Campaigning for Richard Nixon, who was running for the governorship of California, Reagan changes his political registration from Democrat to Republican. The move had been some time in coming, as Reagan had grown increasingly disenchanted with Democratic Party policies, particularly in regards to the size and scope of the federal government. (Reagan had also helped lead the Southern California Democrats for Nixon during the 1960 presidential campaign; "This is no longer the Democratic Party I joined as a young man," he said at the time.)
From Reagan's book "An American Life" (1990):
I spoke to a Republican fund-raising event near my home in Pacific Palisades and a woman in the audience stood up in the middle of my speech and asked me: "Have you reregistered as a Republican yet?"
"Well, no, I haven't yet," I said, "but I intend to."
"I'm a registrar," she said, and walked down the center aisle through the audience and placed a registration form in front of me. I signed it and became a Republican, then said to the audience, "Now, where was I?"
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library says this took place in the fall of 1962.
Note: Over the years, Reagan would be quoted as saying "I didn't leave the Democratic Party; the Democratic Party left me." That famous line echoes Nixon's acceptance speech at the 1960 Republican National Convention: "And in this campaign I make a prediction. I say that just as in 1952 and 1956 millions of Democrats will join us -- not because they are deserting their party, but because their party deserted them at Los Angeles two weeks ago."
1965 photo of Nixon, Reagan and Barry Goldwater from The Phoenix Gazette.
* "How Reagan Became Reagan" (Steven F. Hayward, Claremont Review of Books, fall 2004): @
* "The Education of Ronald Reagan: The General Electric Years and the Untold Story of His Conversion to Conservatism" (Thomas W. Evans, 2008): @
* "Life Before the Presidency" (Miller Center, University of Virginia): @
* "Encroaching Control" (Reagan speech from 1961): @