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Molly Moorhead
By Molly Moorhead October 11, 2011

Perry switched to GOP at younger age than Reagan

Texas Gov. Rick Perry wasn’t always a Republican.

His opponents like to remind him of that, as Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann did in a Republican presidential primary debate at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. And Perry likes to respond that another notable Republican once had a "D" behind his name too.

"I, like most people in the state of Texas and those southern states, grew up a Democrat. Michael Reagan and I were talking just the other day, Charlie, that I came to the Republican Party sooner in age than his dad, Ronald Reagan, did," Perry told debate moderator Charlie Rose on Oct. 11, 2011.

Perry said something similar to conservative commentator Sean Hannity during a radio appearance in August 2011. His words then, also repeated from a conversation with the former president’s son: "I became a Republican sooner in my life than your dad did."

PolitiFact Texas checked it out.

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According to biographer Edward Yager, Reagan, who was born Feb. 6, 1911, "was registered Democrat from the time that he voted for (Democrat Franklin Roosevelt) in 1932, when he was 21."

Yager said that he hadn’t seen copies of Reagan’s voter registration cards but that "virtually all the sources that refer to" Reagan’s party affiliation indicate that he was registered as a Democrat.

He remained a Democrat even as he supported Republican presidential candidates, according to Melissa Giller, director of communications and programs at Reagan’s presidential library.

The library’s website says Reagan made the switch and registered Republican in the fall of 1962, when he was 51.

As for Perry, born March 4, 1950, he won his first three political races for a Texas House seat as a Democrat, then switched parties in 1989 to challenge a Democratic agricultural commissioner. A Texas Tribune storysays Perry announced he was changing parties on Sept. 29 of that year in a press conference outside the Texas Capitol.

On the day of the press conference, Perry was 39 years old, 12 years younger than Reagan when he made his switch. We rate Perry’s statement True. 

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Perry switched to GOP at younger age than Reagan

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