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Tue Aug 7, 2018, 04:27 PM

Paul Laxalt, Senator From Nevada and Reagan Confidant, Dies at 96.

'Paul D. Laxalt, a former United States senator and governor of Nevada who was chairman of Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaigns and advised him in the White House as a close friend, died on Monday in McLean, Va. He was 96.

His family announced the death.

As governor of Nevada from 1967 to 1971, Mr. Laxalt got to know Reagan, then governor of California, when they worked together to clean up the increasingly polluted Lake Tahoe, which straddles the two states’ border.

He went on to serve as Reagan’s campaign chairman in 1976 and 1980 and as general chairman of the Republican National Committee during the Reagan presidency. In private, as “the first friend” as some in the Washington press corps called him, he continued to address the president as “Ron.”

As a Republican senator from Nevada from 1975 to 1987, Mr. Laxalt was known to be firm in his conservatism but always courteous in conveying it. When he led the unsuccessful 1978 fight against the treaties turning over the Panama Canal to Panama, for example, he did not insult or ridicule the Panamanians, as many of his allies did.

“How could I, as a French Basque?” he said in an interview for this obituary in 2006, recalling his understanding of Panamanians’ feeling that they were oppressed by a big power. Still, he insisted in 1978, “It’s absolutely essential that we retain the canal for security purposes, or else it might become a Russian choke point.”'>>>


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