Former senator takes job as Reagan presidential scholar

Associated Press • Mar 22, 2007 at 12:48 PM

RICHMOND - Former U.S. Sen. George Allen, whose affable demeanor and conservative philosophy invited comparisons to fellow Republican Ronald Reagan, has a new job traveling the country to promote the ideas and principles of the nation's 40th president.

"It couldn't be more perfect," Allen said Wednesday after the Young America's Foundation announced his appointment as its Reagan Ranch Presidential Scholar.

Allen, 55, was widely considered a possible presidential candidate before losing his re-election bid in November. He said in a telephone interview that his position with the foundation is part-time, and he continues to explore other job prospects.

A major aspect of Allen's foundation job will be speaking about Reagan and his conservative ideas at college campuses across the nation.

"One of the things I said back in December was that I want to continue advocating missions and principles that I think are important," said Allen.

But he said he won't do all the talking on his campus visits.

"It will be enjoyable to be soliciting ideas, having conversations with young people about America's future," said Allen, who noted his audience members will be about the same age he was when Reagan asked him to chair Young Virginians for Reagan in 1976.

Allen also will represent the foundation at events marking Reagan's life and accomplishments - his birthday and the anniversaries of the Reagan tax cuts and the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, for example.

Other duties include a radio show and writing a monthly op-ed piece.

"We're happy to welcome George Allen into our ranks," said Edwin Meese III, the former U.S. attorney general and co-chairman of the Reagan Ranch Board of Governors. "His energy and enthusiasm for Ronald Reagan's ideas will inspire a new generation of young people." The conservative, nonprofit Young America's Foundation purchased and is preserving the former Reagan ranch in California. It also promotes conservative ideas through seminars and other activities at the Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara, Calif. Allen said he first met his "modern-day political hero" shortly after Reagan was elected governor of California in 1966. Reagan sometimes would drop in on the practices of the Los Angeles Rams, coached by Allen's father. "Of course, I liked what he did as governor and was always telling people how great Ronald Reagan was," said Allen, whose family moved to Virginia after his father became coach of the Washington Redskins. Allen often cited Reagan's influence - and Thomas Jefferson's - during a political career that included stops in the Virginia House of Delegates, the U.S. House of Representatives, the governor's office and the Senate. His signature accomplishments as governor from 1994 to 1998 were abolishing parole, reforming the welfare system and toughening public school standards and accountability.

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