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CAMPAIGN ’88 : Reagan Plays Recruiter

President Reagan, telling Democrats, “Come home and join me,” said Wednesday that he and other former Democrats “took over” the Republican Party years ago and steered it toward “mainstream” concerns such as the family, the flag and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Speaking at a Columbus Day dinner in West Orange, N. J., Reagan embarked on a rhetorical tour of political history, referring to the “once-proud” party of Harry S. Truman and Franklin D. Roosevelt. He recalled the contentious Democratic National Convention of 1968 in Chicago and said that was when Democrats began their “departure from the mainstream.”

“The party of F.D.R. and Harry Truman couldn’t be killed,” the President said, and added: “The secret is that when the left took over the Democratic Party, we took over the Republican Party.”

The influx of Democrats transformed the GOP into “the party of working people,” concerned with “the family, the neighborhood, the defense of freedom, and, yes, the American flag and the Pledge of Allegiance to ‘one nation under God.’ ”

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