Honoring Gipper's Greatness

In the 1970s, few conservative activists did more to advance Ronald Reagan’s presidential candidacy than New York State Sen. Fred J. Eckert.

When President Gerald Ford brought Eckert to the White House to seek his vote at the 1976 Kansas City GOP convention, Eckert firmly but politely explained why he was unwaveringly for Reagan: “Because détente is surrender on the installment plan, and Ronald Reagan will accept no less than victory over communism.”

Outsmarted and Outclassed

He was the only Republican office holder in New York to be a Reagan delegate.  When New York Republicans actually voted to deny Reagan the opportunity to speak to their delegation prior to the convention vote, Eckert rented their hotel ballroom and brought Reagan as his personal guest to speak to the delegation. An embarrassed liberal New York Republican Sen. Jacob Javits urged the delegation to admit they had been outsmarted and outclassed and to attend.

Undaunted by setbacks, Eckert continued his work for Reagan until he was in the White House. 

During the Reagan Administration, Eckert went on to serve in Congress and as ambassador to Fiji and later as ambassador to the UN Food & Agriculture Organization in Rome.

Now retired from politics and an award-winning travel photographer, Eckert is working on another Reagan crusade: this time to put the former President on Mount Rushmore.

While photographing Mount Rushmore, he pondered that Reagan has been away from the presidency more years than had Teddy Roosevelt when he was added to Rushmore. He knew that there had been calls for carving Reagan’s image on Rushmore and that they had fizzled. Why not, he thought, try to place images of Reagan on Rushmore in the homes and offices of Reagan admirers to try to build a groundswell for the idea.

He turned to acclaimed aviation artist Ted Williams, another Reagan fan, and they developed a double-matted photographic art image of Reagan incorporated into one of Eckert’s images of Rushmore—next to President Lincoln (See photo.). For details, go to

Jack Kemp calls the image “a class work that just might ignite a successful movement to put Ronald Reagan up on Mount Rushmore where he belongs among America’s beloved great leaders. All of us should own it!”

Newt Gingrich also has recommended Eckert’s Reagan on Rushmore image to readers of his widely circulated e-newsletter, “Winning the Future” [a Human Events sister publication.