Ronald Reagan’s European Tour

A tour of Europe cemented Ronald Reagan’s reputation as an international statesman and helped secure his re-election.

President Ronald Reagan and wife Nancy toast each other at the bar of O'Farrell's Pub in Ballyporeen, while on a four day visit to the Republic of Ireland, 3 June 1984. PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo.

On 6 June 1984 American audiences watched Ronald Reagan deliver his address on the 40th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy. Speaking at Pointe du Hoc, the promontory around three miles west of Omaha Beach captured by American troops on 8 June 1944, the speech was part of a carefully choreographed ten-day tour of Europe designed to showcase Reagan at his most ‘presidential’ in a bid to boost his re-election chances ahead of that year’s vote. It was also an opportunity to upstage his would-be Democratic rivals Walter Mondale and Gary Hart, then embroiled in an increasingly ugly battle for their party’s nomination. As CBS reporter Lesley Stahl observed at the time: ‘When it comes to political one-upmanship, Ronald Reagan is a master. Upstage the winner of the California primary – piece of cake: have lunch at Buckingham Palace with the Queen of England.’

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