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Mrs. Kirkpatrick, joined the Reagan 1980 campaign team as foreign-policy adviser. After the election, she was in Miami addressing a Hebrew University fundraiser when he telephoned. “How are you, Mr. President-elect?” she said, to which he replied, “I’d be a lot better if you’d agree to go to New York and be my ambassador to the United Nations — and a member of my Cabinet.”

Republicans concluded that no one in either party could articulate Mr. Reagan’s foreign policy better than Mrs. Kirkpatrick, a former foreign-intelligence researcher and a confirmed Francophile who wrote her doctoral dissertation while bringing up three sons and who consulted her political-science professor husband on all matters of import.

She became the most visible, highly placed Reagan Democrat in the administration, signaling millions of others that it was all right to vote for a conservative Republican and eventually, to follow her lead and change her registration to Republican — as she did after leaving government in 1985.

Mrs. Kirkpatrick says her legacy has been to help bring about a realignment in American politics and to radically change the atmosphere at the United Nations: “I wanted to make it clear we were there to stand up for U.S. interests and principles.”