BILLINGS – In August 1982, President Ronald Reagan, riding a stagecoach and waving a cowboy hat, entered the Metra arena in Billings amid enthusiastic applause, confetti, and cheers of support.
Billings was electrified for the president’s visit, with supporters, protesters, and everyone in between flooding into town for the occasion. The president’s address at the Metra, where he advocated for his tax cuts, touted his defense policy, and showed his adoration of Montana, was part of Billings’ centennial celebration.
After the speech, Reagan made his way down to the Sheraton Hotel (now the DoubleTree by Hilton), where he stumped for U.S. Senate hopeful Larry Williams at a fundraising luncheon. The circumstances of that visit have some parallels with President Donald Trump’s visit to Billings in September 2018: a first-term Republican president, coming to Montana to back a Republican Senate candidate trying to unseat a sitting Democrat. In 1982, Larry Williams was hoping to replace John Melcher in the U.S. Senate, as Matt Rosendale is hoping to oust Jon Tester in 2018.
Williams, who ended up losing that election to Melcher, shared his memories with Q2 from this special time in his life in this week’s Q2 Rewind.
Watch the video above to re-live Reagan’s grand entry into the METRA and hear some of Williams’s favorite memories from his time with the president.