In 1984, Muhammad Ali endorsed Ronald Reagan for president and the reason given for the endorsement of Reagan’s re-election may have been one of the shortest answers the wordy Ali ever gave to any question.
“He’s keeping God in schools and that’s enough,” Ali told reporters when asked to elaborate on his endorsement, as the New York Times reported in 1984.
Longtime Republican campaign consultant Ed Rollins, who was the National Campaign Director for the 1984 Reagan re-election campaign, recalled Muhammad Ali’s endorsement in an interview with FOX News’ Uma Pemmaraju on Saturday.
“In 1984, the campaign that I ran for Reagan, he basically endorsed Jesse Jackson in the Democratic primary, where Jackson lost to [former Vice President Walter] Mondale.
“He came over and endorsed us,” Rollins told Fox. “We used him in billboards.
“We had these great billboards of him and Floyd Patterson and Joe Frazier — sort of an ‘America loves a champion’ — with Reagan throwing a punch at him.
This must be the billboard Rollins is referring to:
”He’s keeping God in schools and that’s enough.” pic.twitter.com/4rCQzgem1j
— Tom Van Dyke (@DykeVanTom) June 4, 2016
“He was a phenomenal person,” Rollins remembered.
Newsmax reports that there were several other Republicans Ali endorsed, to the chagrin of progressive leftists who view Ali as one of their “social justice warriors.”
He startled many longtime fans in 1984 by endorsing President Ronald Reagan for re-election. Ali also backed friend and former New Mexico Gov. David Cargo in a losing race for Congress in 1986, proclaiming Republican Cargo was “the right white.” He also stumped for South Carolina’s conservative former State GOP Chairman Van Hipp for Congress in 1994 and helped Republican Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch win re-election in 1988.
“I like Orrin,” Ali told reporters in 1988, “He’s a nice fella. He’s a capable man and he’s an honest man. And he fights for what he believes in.” Ali said he had been particularly moved the year before watching Hatch in the televised Iran-Contra hearings and in the hearings on Robert Bork’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.
But it was “The Champ’s” support of Reagan in ’84 that made the most headlines. Having backed Rev. Jesse Jackson in his unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, Ali announced in October of that year that he was switching his support to Republican Reagan.