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Ron Reagan: Mom Nancy's love created 'the Ronald Reagan we all came to know'

Ron Reagan, the son of former first lady Nancy Reagan, said his mother will be remembered for her 52-year love affair with his father.
/ Source: TODAY

A day after former first lady Nancy Reagan's death at 94, Ron Reagan remembered the influential role his mother played in Ronald Reagan's life and presidency.

"She loved her husband more than anything in the world, and I think you can make the case that the Ronald Reagan that we all came to know as president would not have existed without Nancy Reagan,'' Reagan told Matt Lauer in a phone interview on TODAY Monday.

The couple were married for 52 years before Ronald's death in 2004 after a battle with Alzheimer's disease. Ron, 57, remembered Nancy often serving as the pragmatic side to his father's usually sunny disposition.

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"My mother was more aware of, I think, the dark corners of life, and the darker aspects of human nature,'' Ron said. "Her view was more 'I'm gonna watch, and if I think you're good for my husband then you've got a friend for life. But if I think that you're bad for my husband or you're hurting him in some way, oh you know, you better watch out because now you've got an enemy, and it's not an enemy you want.'''

Nancy grew particularly protective of her husband after he was shot in 1981 and survived the assassination attempt.

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"I don't think that she ever had another day during his presidency where there wasn't some fear involved, and particularly, of course, when he went out in public at all,'' Ron said.

Their memorable love affair and devotion to one another is something the younger Reagan views as defining a significant part of her legacy.

"Once they had bonded together, they really were inseparable,'' he said. "I mean, it sounds cliche, but I don't think that they ever spent a day apart where they didn't call [or] speak on the phone. He wrote her letters all her life, all his life.They were in love. And they stayed in love for 52-some odd years."

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.