In addition to the problems in Lebanon and Grenada, the Reagan administration had to deal with an ongoing contentious relationship with Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi. 1984 Reelection and Gorbachev In November 1984, Ronald Reagan was elected in a landslide, defeating Democratic challenger Walter Mondale. Reagan carried 49 of the 50 U.S. states in the election, and received 525 of 538 electoral votes—the largest number ever won by an American presidential candidate. Yet his second term was tarnished by the Iran-Contra affair, a convoluted "arms-for-hostages" deal with Iran to funnel money toward anti-communist insurgencies in Central America. Though he initially denied knowing about it, Reagan later announced that it was a mistake partially at the behest of the first lady. During his second term, Reagan also forged a diplomatic relationship with the reform-minded Mikhail Gorbachev, chairman of the Soviet Union. In 1987, the Americans and Soviets signed a historic agreement to eliminate intermediate-range nuclear missiles. That same year, Reagan spoke at Germany's Berlin Wall, a symbol of communism, and famously challenged Gorbachev to tear it down. More than two years later, Gorbachev allowed the people of Berlin to dismantle the wall, ending Soviet domination of East Germany. After leaving the White House, Reagan returned to Germany in
September 1990—just weeks before the country was officially reunified—and, with a hammer, took several symbolic swings at a remaining chunk of the wall. Later Years and Death After leaving the White House in January 1989, Reagan and wife Nancy returned to their home in Los Angeles, California. In 1991, the Ronald W. Reagan Presidential Library and Center for Public Affairs opened in Simi Valley, California. In November 1994, Reagan revealed in a handwritten letter to the American people that he had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Nearly a decade later, on June 5, 2004, he died at his Los Angeles home at age 93, making him the nation's longest-lived president at that time. (In 2006, Gerald Ford surpassed him for this title.) A state funeral was held in Washington, D.C., and Reagan was later buried on the grounds of his presidential library in California. His wife Nancy Reagan died of heart failure in 2016 at the age of 94 and was also interred at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Center for Public Affairs.
- Fall '15
- Cold War, President Ronald Reagan