- Speechwriter when President Reagan properly characterized Armenian Genocide
- Served as advisor on nine presidential campaigns
- ‘Lion of California GOP Politics’ has been at epicenter of elections for more than 40 Years
GLENDALE—The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region has announced that Ken Khachigian will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2011 ANCA-WR Annual Banquet for his decades of work as an American campaign strategist, political speechwriter and attorney. Ronald Reagan became the first sitting U.S. president to properly characterize the Armenian Genocide while Khachigian was his speechwriter.
Khachigian is best remembered for his tenure as speechwriter in the Nixon and Reagan administrations. He has served as an advisor in nine presidential campaigns. In addition to his work on the Nixon, Reagan, and Bush-Quayle campaigns, he most recently served as a senior advisor to the presidential campaigns of Bob Dole in 1996; John McCain in 2000; and Fred Thompson in 2008.
In 1970, after graduating from law school, he climbed the White House ranks during his tenure in the Nixon administration, going from staff assistant to Deputy Special Assistant to the President within six years. In 1974, after the Nixon administration had collapsed in the Watergate scandal, he joined President Nixon at his private California residence to help compose his memoirs and to conduct research for Nixon’s interview with David Frost. It was a landmark event that became the subject of the 2008 film ‘Frost/Nixon,’ in which Khachigian was portrayed by actor Gabriel Jarret.
Following his work in the Nixon administration, Khachigian joined Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign. By 1981, he was named chief speechwriter and special consultant to the President. Within the first 100 days, Khachigian wrote Reagan’s inaugural address, his three main economic speeches, and the welcoming address to the hostages held during the 444-day hostage crisis in Iran.
Although he resigned after six months to return to the private sector, he would continue to write many of the major political and policy speeches throughout the President’s two terms, including the 1984 nomination acceptance speech, the 1985 remarks at the former Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany, and the 1988 Republican National Convention farewell address.
It was during the speech at Bergen-Belsen that Reagan famously declared, “… we can and must pledge: Never again,” and the address is widely regarded as the greatest throughout his career. Khachigian also penned the 1981 “Days of Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust”
Proclamation in which Reagan recognized and properly characterized the Armenian Genocide.
Khachigian has been active in California elections since the early 1980s, and is known among politicos and pundits as “the lion of California GOP politics.” Prominent political commentator Bob Novak has written that Khachigian is “perhaps the state’s premier Republican strategist and wordsmith.” He is widely quoted in state and national publications, has appeared on prominent cable and network television programs and frequently lectures before businesses and associations on government affairs and politics.
“With this award, we are recognizing Ken Khachigian for his invaluable contribution to Hai Tahd and American politics throughout the last 40 years,” said ANCA-WR Chairman Andrew Kzirian. “Among his many other achievements, Khachigian proved that the pen is mightier than the sword, succeeding in bringing the history of the Armenian people and most importantly the truth of the Armenian Genocide to the mainstream public consciousness.”
During the 1982 and 1986 California gubernatorial campaigns, Khachigian was senior advisor and principal strategist for Governor George Deukmejian. He also served as campaign chairman, campaign manager and senior consultant to Dan Lungren for his two victories as Attorney General. Khachigian counseled Pete Wilson in his winning U.S. Senate and gubernatorial campaigns; in 1998, he guided the successful statewide retention election of California Supreme Court Justice Ming Chin.
Khachigian completed his undergraduate education at the University of California, Santa Barbara in political science in 1966, and received his Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School in 1969. He is currently a senior partner in the Orange County, California law office of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, and a member of the Government Relations and Natural Resources departments. His practice includes a range of high-level environmental and government relations matters, particularly where legal, government and public issues intersect.
Currently, he serves on the boards of the California Council for Environmental and Economic Balance; the California Chamber of Commerce; the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace Foundation; the UCSB Foundation; and Campaigns & Elections Magazine.
He and his wife, Meredith Khachigian, serve on the board of directors of the Armenian Eye Care Project, which has helped thousands of Armenians restore and maintain their vision through prevention and early intervention programs. They have two daughters: Merissa Khachigian, who serves as the Director of State Government Affairs at Oracle; and Kristy Khachigian, who is the Director of Executive Education at TechAmerica.
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.