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Nancy Reagan: Condolences pour in for 'tower of strength' first lady

The news of the former first lady's death Sunday at the age of 94 brought a flood of tributes, condolences and reminiscences.
First Lady Nancy Reagan turns around and waves to a crowd alongside the river Ill where she was invited for a boat ride in this picturesque quarter, May 8, 1985, Strasbourg, France. (Anonymous/AP)
First Lady Nancy Reagan turns around and waves to a crowd alongside the river Ill where she was invited for a boat ride in this picturesque quarter, May 8, 1985, Strasbourg, France. 

The news of Nancy Reagan's death Sunday at the age of 94 brought a flood of tributes, condolences and reminiscence.

Many noted the substantial impact she left on the country and the world, and the deep commitment and love shared between the former first lady and her late husband, President Ronald Reagan.

"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," said President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama in a statement.

"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," the president and first lady said.

"I am saddened by the passing of my step mother Nancy Reagan ... She is once again with the man she loved. God Bless," wrote Ronald Reagan's adopted son, Michael Reagan.

Former President George W. Bush lauded Reagan's work to raise awareness about drug abuse and breast cancer. "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," he said in a statement.

His mother, former first lady Barbara Bush said Reagan was "totally devoted" to her husband."

"We take comfort that they will be reunited once more," Bush said. "George and I send our prayers and condolences to her family."

President Bill Clinton said he and Democratic presidential candidate and former first lady Hillary Clinton were "deeply saddened" to hear of Reagan's death. "Nancy was an extraordinary woman: a gracious First Lady, proud mother, and devoted wife to President Reagan—her Ronnie," Clinton wrote. "Her strength of character was legendary, particularly when tested by the attempted assassination of the President, and throughout his battle with Alzheimer's."
"My thoughts & prayers are with Nancy Reagan's family and friends. Very sad to learn of her passing," wrote Chelsea Clinton in a tweet.

President Jimmy Carter said: "Rosalynn and I are saddened by the passing of former First Lady Nancy Reagan. She will always be admired for her strength of conviction and her lifelong devotion to her husband."

President Richard Nixon's daughters, Tricia Nixon Cox and Julie Nixon, said Reagan was "a constant source of support for our parents and our family."

"Her love for her husband and our nation endeared her to people of all walks of life, while her crusade against drugs and dedication to bettering the lives of young people everywhere changed millions of lives," they said.

"No matter your party or political ideology, this is a sad day for America," said Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. "Nancy Reagan was an exemplary first lady. ... Nancy Reagan had a good heart, and she will be dearly missed."

"Nancy Reagan, the wife of a truly great President, was an amazing woman. She will be missed," said GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz said the Reagan family was in his prayers. "Nancy Reagan will be remembered for her deep passion for this nation and love for her husband, Ronald," he said.

"President Reagan has been reunited with his wife and partner but America and the Reagan family have lost a woman of grace and strength," said Republican presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich. "Nancy Reagan's dedication to our country was matched only by that of her husband. Theirs was one of our nation's great love stories and a model of shared devotion to our country. America is stronger and better for their service."

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio said Reagan was "a true example of integrity and grace."

New Jersey Gov. and former Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie said Reagan "embodied grace and poise for generations of Americans."

"Nancy Reagan was the rock behind one of the greatest leaders of our time. She was her husband's greatest source of strength through the toughest decisions he made as president," Christie said.

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said even those who weren't "Reagan Republicans" admired and respected the former first lady. "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," Schumer said, referring to the pivotal gun safety measure.

"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. "Mrs. Reagan will go down in history as a woman who left her own mark on the White House and our country."

"Americans from coast to coast will mourn Nancy Reagan's loss as we take this time to remember her legacy, as a public servant, as a private citizen, and as a wife and mother," said RNC co-chair Sharon Day.

Chief Strategist for the Republican National Committee Sean Spicer said the world and country lost "an amazing woman."

Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said "Mrs. Reagan understood the enormous responsibility that comes with representing our nation from the White House on the world stage, and she was beloved by the American people for her grace and dignity in that role."

"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," Wasserman Schultz added.

Former Republican presidential candidate — and recent newsmaker arguing for bringing class back to politics — Mitt Romney said in a statement that Reagan's passing marked the end of "the days of Ronald Reagan."

"With charm, grace, and a passion for America, this couple reminded us of the greatness and the endurance of the American experiment," Romney said. "God and Ronnie have finally welcomed a choice soul home."

"Ronald Reagan could not have accomplished everything that he did without his wife Nancy," said House Speaker Paul Ryan. "She loved her husband, and she loved her country. This was her service. It was her way of giving back. And all of us are very grateful."

"President Reagan was famous for his smile, and Nancy was usually the reason he was smiling. During her husband's presidency and the difficult years that followed, Nancy Reagan was a rock of strength and unconditional love, and a leader in her own right on matters close to her heart," said former House Speaker John Boehner. "May they now both rest in peace in God's loving arms, reunited for eternity."

"Nancy Reagan was an example to us all of graciousness, loyalty and dignity in good times and bad. She was an exemplary First Lady, and a generous friend. I will always be grateful for her and her husband's many kindnesses to my family.," said Se. John McCain, R-Ariz. "And I will always remember her as a dear friend and patriot and as one-half of a love story that Hollywood couldn't have written any better."

House of Representatives Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said that Reagan "touched the heart of a nation and made the world a better place."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell highlighted the bond between Nancy Reagan and her husband. "In many ways the Reagan love story was classic Hollywood, but it was unmistakably human too," he said in a statement. "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."

"Our loss is heaven's gain. First Lady Nancy Reagan will be remembered for her bravery & integrity," said House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise.

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called Reagan one of his "heroes."

She served as First Lady with unbelievable power, class and grace and left her mark on the world," Schwarzenegger said. "She's with her Ronnie now, but those of us she left behind will miss her dearly."

Maria Schriver, who, like Reagan served as first lady of California, noted on MSNBC that Reagan was "deeply devoted to her husband."

"She served our country and the state of California with class," Schriver said in a statement.

"We're saddened by the loss of Nancy Reagan," said a tweet from NASA, accompanied by a picture of the former first lady admiring a space shuttle.

The Girl Scouts of America said in a statement that Reagan would be remembered for her "courage, confidence and character" in service to America and the Girl Scouts. Nancy Reagan served as the honorary national president of the Girl Scouts from 1981-1989.
"On behalf of all Canadians, I offer condolences to the Reagan family and the United States following the death of Nancy Reagan," said Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Meanwhile, U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Reagan was an "iconic first lady, always by the side of Ronald Reagan, a committed campaigner" He said her death was "a great loss to America."

John Barletta, a retired United States Secret Service agent and Ronald Reagan's protector, said the love between the president and first lady was palpable. "I saw her dedication to him first hand, especially in the final years. She never wanted to leave his side," he said. "Now both President and Mrs. Reagan are gone, but their memories will remain in the hearts of millions. I was fortunate to know — and love — them both."

Author and actress Joan Collins said she lost a "friend." She called Reagan's passing "the end of an era."

"Nancy and Ronald Reagan were one of the great love stories of the American presidency," said Craig Shirley, a Ronald Reagan biographer, who has written three books about the late president. "Nancy Reagan was not only the First Lady; she was a Great Lady." 

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