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US Presidential Elections and Foreign PolicyCandidates, Campaigns, and Global Politics from FDR to Bill Clinton$
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Andrew Johnstone and Andrew Priest

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780813169057

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813169057.001.0001

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1984, Regional Crises, and Morning in America

1984, Regional Crises, and Morning in America

The Predawn of the Reagan Era

(p.271) 12 1984, Regional Crises, and Morning in America
US Presidential Elections and Foreign Policy

David Ryan

University Press of Kentucky

Despite Reagan’s favorable treatment in the recent historiography and his close association in contemporary public discourse with democracy promotion, key elements of the Reagan Doctrine presented an electoral liability in the run-up to the 1984 elections. This chapter examines the impact of regional conflicts in Nicaragua and Lebanon on the overall attempts to modify Reagan’s image for the 1984 elections. While foreign policy issues were rarely a primary concern during the election, Reagan’s pollsters and strategists wanted to diminish the early 1980s association in the public of the candidate as a warmonger as confrontation with the Soviet Union still resonated. Moreover, the prospects of intervention in Nicaragua frequently invoked the negative memories and reverberations of the Vietnam War. As Reagan’s identity was recast across 1984 through overtures to China and the Soviet Union, it was imperative to operate a form of damage control over the issues of Nicaragua and Lebanon. Keeping these issues out of the electoral discourse was considered to be crucial.

Keywords:   1984 election, Ronald Reagan, Walter Mondale, Reagan Doctrine, Nicaragua, Lebanon

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