In speaking at the tribute honoring the Ronald Reagan centennial on Friday night, former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin invoked his now-famous speech “A Time for Choosing.”
Times reporter Maeve Reston noted that Reagan gave the televised speech in October 1964 on behalf of Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater and I thought it would be interesting to explore some of the details. The Times was a stalwart Republican paper in this era and endorsed Goldwater for president, so it seemed likely that there might be some coverage of Reagan’s speech.
My research found that if the address has become one the landmarks of Reagan’s political career, it certainly didn’t start out that way.
In fact, The Times’ clips and other news sources show that for nearly two years before his televised address, Reagan had been delivering a speech on the theme of “A Time for Choosing” to business and political groups. Given the time references in the televised version (“Senator Humphrey last week…”) , it’s evident that Reagan revised the work and I will defer to Reagan scholars to compare drafts of the speech, although I imagine it would be a fascinating project.