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Nancy Reagan dies at 94: The world reacts

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>President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan wave to onlookers in Washington following his swearing-in ceremony. (Photo: AP)

Remembrances of Nancy Reagan are rolling in following the announcement of the 94-year-old former first lady’s death on Sunday.

Among the first to pay tribute: former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

“With the passing of Nancy Reagan, we say a final goodbye to the days of Ronald Reagan,” Romney said in a statement posted to Facebook. “With charm, grace, and a passion for America, this couple reminded us of the greatness and the endurance of the American experiment. Some underestimate the influence of a First Lady but from Martha and Abigail through Nancy and beyond, these women have shaped policy, strengthened resolve, and drawn on our better angels. God and Ronnie have finally welcomed a choice soul home.”

President Barack Obama and first lady Michele Obama offered their condolences:

Nancy Reagan once wrote that nothing could prepare you for living in the White House. She was right, of course. But we had a head start, because we were fortunate to benefit from her proud example, and her warm and generous advice. Our former First Lady redefined the role in her time here. Later, in her long goodbye with President Reagan, she became a voice on behalf of millions of families going through the depleting, aching reality of Alzheimer’s, and took on a new role, as advocate, on behalf of treatments that hold the potential and the promise to improve and save lives. We offer our sincere condolences to their children, Patti, Ron, and Michael, and to their grandchildren. And we remain grateful for Nancy Reagan’s life, thankful for her guidance, and prayerful that she and her beloved husband are together again.


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President Obama escorts former first lady Nancy Reagan to a signing ceremony for the Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission Act at the White House. (Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

“Nancy Reagan was totally devoted to President Reagan, and we take comfort that they will be reunited once more,” former first lady Barbara Bush said in a statement Sunday. “George and I send our prayers and condolences to her family.”

Former President George W. Bush released a statement of his own:

Laura and I are saddened by the loss of former First Lady Nancy Reagan. Mrs. Reagan was fiercely loyal to her beloved husband, and that devotion was matched only by her devotion to our country. Her influence on the White House was complete and lasting. During her time as First Lady and since, she raised awareness about drug abuse and breast cancer. When we moved into the White House, we benefitted from her work to make those historic rooms beautiful. Laura and I are grateful for the life of Nancy Reagan, and we send our condolences to the entire Reagan family.


Former President Bill Clinton recalled Nancy’s “strength of character”:

Hillary and I were deeply saddened to learn of Nancy Reagan’s passing. Nancy was an extraordinary woman: a gracious first lady, proud mother, and devoted wife to President Reagan — her Ronnie. Her strength of character was legendary, particularly when tested by the attempted assassination of the president, and throughout his battle with Alzheimer’s. She leaves a remarkable legacy of good that includes her tireless advocacy for Alzheimer’s research and the Foster Grandparent Program. We join all Americans in extending our prayers and condolences to her beloved children and her entire family during this difficult time.


“You didn’t have to be a Reagan Republican to admire and respect Nancy Reagan,” New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said. “She was a tower of strength alongside her husband, had strong beliefs, and was not afraid to chart her own course politically. She persuaded her husband to support the Brady Law, and their advocacy was instrumental in helping us pass it.”

“Elaine and I join the nation in mourning the loss of Nancy Reagan,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday. “In many ways the Reagan love story was classic Hollywood, but it was unmistakably human too. Hands intertwined, Nancy and Ron rose to the pinnacle of political power, weathered cancer and personal heartbreak, and braved the depths of Alzheimer’s cold embrace — always together. I know every American felt Nancy’s immense pain when she, kissing Ronnie’s casket, mouthed a tearful farewell to the best friend she once said she couldn’t imagine life without.”

California Rep. Nancy Pelosi released a lengthy statement mourning Reagan’s loss:

Today, officially and personally, our nation mourns the loss of former First Lady of the United States Nancy Reagan. As First Lady, Nancy Reagan devoted her time and energy to fighting drug use among children and young adults – bringing national attention to the issue with her ‘just say no’ campaign. A loving and nurturing wife and mother, Nancy Reagan devoted herself to caring for President Reagan during his battle with Alzheimer’s. In 2001, Mrs. Reagan courageously spoke out in support of stem-cell research, channeling her family’s private struggle into public advocacy on behalf of the millions of Americans fighting this disease. In June 2009, as Speaker and as a Californian, I was honored to welcome Mrs. Reagan to the Capitol and see her joy as we dedicated the statue of President Reagan in the Rotunda. I hope that it is a comfort to the entire Reagan family that so many around the world appreciate her life, mourn their loss and are praying for them at this sad time.


Related slideshow: Nancy Reagan through the years >>

“Nancy Reagan embodied what it means to represent America as First Lady and her dignified and warm demeanor inspired America,” Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. “Mrs. Reagan will go down in history as a woman who left her own mark on the White House and our country. She was a longtime friend and supporter of many in our party, and will be sorely missed. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Reagan family and all those who she so deeply touched over the years.”

Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz recalled the legacy of Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign:

Her ‘Just Say No’ campaign to keep children from abusing drugs had a long-lasting impact that no doubt saved lives. And her work later in life to support the National Alzheimer’s Association and stem cell research helped advance the science of finding a cure for a devastating disease that affects millions of American families every day. As we celebrate her life and legacy as a partner, confidant and adviser to President Reagan, and as a leader and philanthropist in her own right, we should also honor her passing by reflecting on the progress we can make when our elected officials work together across the aisle, as the Reagan administration did on issues ranging from immigration to nuclear arms control, making our people more prosperous and our nation more secure.


Others took to Twitter to express their grief and gratitude.


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