Miller Center

Interview with James A. Baker, III


Photo of Baker, James A.

James Baker evaluates his nine-year involvement in Reagan's public life, from the 1980 GOP primary campaign, where Baker served as campaign chairman to Reagan's main rival, George H.W. Bush, to his exit from the administration in August 1988. The interview begins with an overview of Baker's role in Gerald Ford's 1976 campaign and George Bush's 1980 campaign -- both in opposition to Reagan -- and how Baker came to join the Reagan campaign in August 1980. Baker spends most of the morning session on his four years as Reagan's Chief of Staff, discussing the organization and key members of the White House staff, and his role in policymaking during the first Reagan term. He also gives his perspective on the major events of the first term, including the assassination attempt, the Soviet downing of Korean Airlines Flight 007, the war in Grenada, the nomination of Sandra Day O'Connor to the United States Supreme Court, and relations with the Soviet Union. In the afternoon session, the focus shifts to the second term and Baker's tenure as Secretary of the Treasury, with discussions on the job swap with Donald Reagan, the 1986 tax reform, and the Canadian Free Trade Agreement. The interview concludes with Baker's decision to leave the administration in 1988 to run the presidential campaign of Vice President Bush.

Copyright 2005 The Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. Publicly released transcripts of the Ronald Reagan Oral History Project are freely available for non-commercial use according to the Fair Use provisions of the United States Copyright Code and International Copyright Law. Advance written permission is required for reproduction, redistribution, and extensive quotation or excerpting. Permission requests should be made to the Miller Center, P.O. Box 400406, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4406


The contents of this interview are not yet open to the public.