Nation: Meet the Real Ronald Reagan

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the whole top echelon of his campaign staff on New Hampshire primary day in February.

Though that was a bold move, the long imbroglio and its aftermath raise some serious doubts about Reagan's ability to handle subordinates. After Sears left, Reagan for months was responsible for an untidy and ineffective operation.

The staff now seems better organized; it has been strengthened by the rehiring of Deaver and, more recently, Stuart Spencer, which illustrates another side of Reagan. Spencer had helped elect and re-elect Reagan as Governor, but in 1976 he joined Gerald Ford. During that year's California primary, Spencer coined the slogan, "Governor Reagan couldn't start a war, but President Reagan could." Nonetheless, at convention time this year Reagan welcomed Spencer back as a part-time consultant, and by the second week of September, Spencer was serving full time on the campaign plane. Usually he sits just a yard from Nancy Reagan, who curdled at the warmonger talk four years ago and who is known to hold a grudge. To her husband, winning is more important than any grudge, which he seldom feels anyway.

Indeed, for a former actor, Reagan shows a narrow range of emotion of any sort. He rarely displays genuine delight or anger, a reserve that has served him well during the campaign. He has replied to Jimmy Carter's attacks with a kind of puzzled hurt that has been far more effective than rage. Reagan's substitute for strong emotion seems to be humor, both memorized and spontaneous. He is a walking repertory theater of show-biz anecdotes, one-liners, elaborate routines (interestingly, he almost never tells a political anecdote). On the campaign plane, Nancy Reagan has made a ritual of rising a few moments after takeoff to roll an orange toward the emergency exit at the rear, which she usually manages to hit. When she is not along, Reagan takes over the routine and converts it into an act. Sometimes he is a bowler, sometimes a football player, frequently a pitcher squinting toward an imaginary catcher, shaking off sign after sign, going into a full windup before finally releasing the orange, which almost never hits the exit.

For all his geniality, Reagan seems very much a loner. The company of politicians, Nevada Senator Paul Laxalt and one or two others excepted, does not interest him. In fact, he has few intimates in any walk of life. He is not particularly close to his children. Only Nancy seems to receive much real warmth from him.

Nancy and his love of horses, Old West brica-brac, cowboy shirts and boots, anything Western. Riding is more than a hobby, far more important to Reagan than, say, golf is to Gerald Ford or running to Jimmy Carter. It answers a need that Reagan finds difficult to put into words. Says he: "I always had the biggest yen in the world to ride. I don't really know where I got it."

At Rancho del Cielo, his 688-acre spread in the Santa Ynez Mountains, north of Santa Barbara, Reagan is a man transformed, serene, under no compulsion to entertain. He shows off the fences that he and the hired man, Lee Clearwater, put up together. He displays his black thoroughbred, Little Man, a handsome brute that knows its master. From about 30 yds. away the horse responds to Reagan's call, trotting up for a pat on the nose and a piece of carrot.

Wandering around the hilly acreage, oblivious

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