Born in Salt Lake City, Wirthlin was a close adviser to Reagan for more than 20 years and directed Reagan's successful presidential campaigns in 1980 and 1984.
According to a press release, Reagan once said of him, "Dick Wirthlin is the best in the business... When he speaks, I listen." Former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III called Wirthlin "a great man, a great friend and an invaluable counselor to President Reagan."
Wirthlin chronicled his relationship with Reagan in a 2004 book.
He also served as an adviser and pollster to Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.