John Sears, Who Helped Guide Nixon And Reagan to The White House, Dies at 79

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tags: Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, politics, John Sears


Mr. Sears was a precocious political operative who joined Nixon’s law firm in his 20s and helped engineer his boss’s triumph in the Republican primary of 1968, ultimately leading to Nixon’s victory over Democrat Hubert H. Humphrey in the general election.

Eight years later, Mr. Sears became known for leading Reagan’s challenge to President Gerald R. Ford, which nearly resulted in a political coup that would have seized the GOP nomination from a sitting president. The daring maneuver, which fell short at the Republican National Convention, raised Reagan’s national profile and led to his victory in the 1980 presidential election.

By then, however, Mr. Sears was watching from the sidelines, forced out of his job after clashes with other political advisers and Reagan himself — and for what many observers considered an icy disdain for his candidate’s intellect, conservatism and jovial manner on the campaign trail.

Once hailed by Washington Post political writer Lou Cannon as “the resident mastermind of Republican politics,” Mr. Sears had little ideological commitment to politics. Instead, he saw his role as a master of electoral gamesmanship.

After helping coordinate Nixon’s campaign in the Northeast in 1968, Mr. Sears worked in the White House. Friction between him and Nixon’s inner circle, including Attorney General John N. Mitchell and top advisers H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, led to his increasing isolation.

Mr. Sears’s openness to the media led to further suspicion, and it was later revealed that White House officials were tapping his phone. He left the Nixon administration in September 1969, as many of his antagonists stayed on and became caught up in the Watergate scandal.


Read entire article at Washington Post

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