It was an 80s flashback at the Ronald Reagan Building, fully equipped with glow bracelets, Atari games, giant dangling Rubik’s cubes, and breakdancers busting moves to a cover band. Not a bad way for Fred Ryan, President and CEO of Politico and Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and GE Chairman and CEO, Jeff Immelt, to get a party started. Add in Tom Brokaw and Andrea Mitchell and you have a Washington style party to celebrate the Centennial birthday of the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan.
Thanks to the new GE ads, we remember Reagan as a Hollywood heartthrob and popular host of General Electric Theater, which aired on CBS radio and television. GE honored their beloved star with a party and conversation on Wednesday. Jeff Immelt reminisced about starting with the company back in 1982 while Reagan was in office (Immelt’s father worked at GE, too).
NBC’s Tom Brokaw moderated the panel discussion and aside from interviewing the president several times, shared a birthday with him: February 6. Panelists included Politico’s Mike Allen, CNN Sam Feist, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Reagan White House Staffer Ed Meese, and former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer.
Reagan was remembered as “The Great Communicator “ and Fleischer did not doubt the president could still wear the title in today’s media environment. “If Ronald Reagan had a Twitter account he would know what to say in 140 characters or less.”
Reagan only needed four words to go down in history. Ed Meese recalled how anotherspeechwriter, Peter Robertson, told the president that “tear down this wall” was too strong and the State Department would not be happy with the phrase. Reagan insisted, telling Mr. Gorbachev and the rest of the world to knock down the Berlin Wall on June 12, 1987, essentially the beginning of the end of the Cold War.
The Reagan Library has more information on centennial celebrations taking placethroughout the country.
Check out photos from the party and panel discussion below: