"Ronald Reagan was a fifty-three-year-old movie actor, past president of the Screen Actors Guild, and former host of the television show General Electric Theater when he gave a dramatic nationally televised speech the year before for Barry Goldwater, the Republican presidential nominee. Goldwater lost in a landslide, but the speech had cast Reagan in the new role of potential candidate. Already a hero to conservatives, Reagan reached out to moderates when he announced his candidacy for governor in 1966, in a speech that called for reform of the state's tax system and restoration of the California dream. "Our problems are many but our capacity for solving them is limitless," Reagan said." "Though Governor Pat Brown and the state's Democrats underestimated him as a fading star who had been upstaged by a chimpanzee in the film Bedtime for Bonzo, Reagan ultimately defeated Brown by nearly a million votes. Being a candidate came naturally to Reagan, but governing did not and he was at first outmatched by State Assembly Speaker Jesse Unruh. Reagan set to work fulfilling his campaign promises of tax relief, cuts in spending, and fixing the "mess at Berkeley," where student protests had turned violent." "After a rock start he took the measure of Unruh and surprised friends and foes alike by agreeing to a huge tax increase in his first term that provided an immense stream of revenue which cushioned Reagan throughout his eight years as governor. He developed an environmental policy that preserved some of California's most scenic valleys and wild rivers, and he signed what was then the nation's most permissive abortion-rights law. In his second term Reagan negotiated a landmark welfare-reform bill with Democratic legislators. Throughout, he expressed a vision, determination, and self-deprecating sense of humor that would combine to carry him to the White House."--Jacket.