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Leslie C. Arends

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Leslie C. Arends (1895-1985) represented a rural downstate Illinois district in the US Congress from 1935 to 1975. A conservative but pragmatic Republican, he opposed much of the New Deal and remained a staunch isolationist until the American entry into World War II. Becoming minority whip in 1943, Arends helped create the powerful Conservative Coalition of Republicans and Southern Democrats that controlled the domestic agenda from 1937 to 1964. He supported Robert A. Taft over Dwight D. Eisenhower for the 1952 Republican presidential nomination, and was an early supporter of the party's nominees Richard M. Nixon and Barry Goldwater in the campaigns of the 1960s. He organized the GOP opposition to Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society. Arends, however, supported civil rights legislation. He defended Richard Nixon throughout the Watergate affair and his close personal friendship with Gerald R. Ford insured a good relationship with Nixon's successor.