Mr. Regnery attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied political science and joined the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, a conservative student organization co-founded by Mr. Buckley. He quit before graduation to assist on Senator Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign.
In the 2017 interview with Buzzfeed, one of the few times he spoke to the news media, he claimed that his efforts on behalf of Mr. Goldwater included what he called “Operation Dewdrop,” in which he attempted to deter Democratic voters in Philadelphia by hiring a plane to seed the skies with dry ice, in the hopes of making it rain. He failed — albeit, he recalled, he burned his fingertips on the ultracold dry ice containers.
Mr. Regnery then returned to Chicago, where he worked at Joanna-Western Mills. He became the company’s president in 1980 but was dismissed a year later, after many quarters of poor financial performance. According to his own account, he spent the rest of his career in a variety of businesses, while also dabbling in Illinois politics.
In his memoir, he told how he first began to turn against the Republican Party after listening to a speech in 1993 in which the economist Milton Friedman declared that the end of the Cold War meant that the free-market economic ideas of the Reagan period had won. In an early indicator of that breach, according to a 2017 feature in Mother Jones, Mr. Regnery campaigned unsuccessfully for Illinois secretary of state in 1994 on the Term Limits and Tax Limits Party ticket
Five years later, he convened a Who’s Who of white supremacists for a conference in Florida, where he delivered a speech, “For Our Children’s Children,” in which he said the only way to save America’s white identity was for it to break up into several smaller countries, one each for the country’s various ethnic groups.
His prejudice become more obvious. He declared ambitions in 2004 to launch a whites-only dating site. It never happened, but he continued to worry that white people were in danger of extinction: In 2006 he delivered a speech in Chicago in which he claimed, “The white race may fall from master of the universe to an anthropological curiosity.”
By then he had abandoned most of his links with mainstream Republicans, and they with him. T hat same year the leadership of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, which he had joined in college, withdrew him from its board.