On eve of State of the Union: top five presidential orators of modern times

In advance of President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, one author has ranked the top five presidential orators since 1933.

4. Ronald Reagan

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    President Reagan works at his desk in the Oval Office on May 24, 1985, as he prepares a speech on tax revision.
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President Reagan may have been a Hollywood actor, but he had human warmth that could not be faked. In 1986, when the space shuttle Challenger exploded, Reagan addressed the nation’s sadness from the Oval Office:

“I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It's all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It's all part of taking a chance and expanding man's horizons. The future doesn't belong to the faint-hearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we'll continue to follow them.”

Greene considers the Challenger speech one of Reagan’s finest.

“It was such a beautiful example of how Ronald Reagan used his warmth, his fatherly reassuring qualities, to calm and comfort a nation,” said Greene.

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