Michael Reagan: “You can’t be a Trump Republican and a Reagan Republican.”
Many conservatives opine that what we need after Obama’s disastrous presidency is the same cure we had after Jimmy Carter’s disastrous presidency: a Ronald Reagan.
This desire isn’t lost on the Republican candidates for president. Many are comparing themselves to President Reagan in the hopes of stoking, even fulfilling, that hope. One such comparison to President Reagan was recently made by Donald Trump who compared his very recent Democrat background to that of President Reagan.
The Hill reported at the time:
In response to questions about the business mogul’s previous status as a card-carrying Democrat, Trump said that he was in good company.
“If you look at Ronald Reagan, and he was a Democrat, he was actually, Don, he was a Democrat with a very liberal, or at least a pretty liberal bent, and he became a Republican with a somewhat conservative — I wouldn’t say very, but he was a conservative Republican,” Trump said.
Michael Reagan takes issue with this comparison and penned a powerful response in The New Hampshire Union-Leader that begins: “Mr. Trump, I knew Ronald Reagan. And you’re no Ronald Reagan! Of course, I am stealing that line — with a twist.”
Donald Trump shouldn’t mind. He’s been stealing my dad for his own purposes. Trump frequently invokes Ronald Reagan’s name to defend his sudden, 180-degree switch from being a life-long, pro-Clinton Democrat to a Reagan Republican.
Both men did make a switch, but almost all the similarities between the two end there. Ronald Reagan’s odyssey from Hollywood liberal to conservative backer took place over almost two decades.
Starting with his 1964 “Time for Choosing” speech that galvanized Americans for Barry Goldwater, dad began a 16-year effort of crisscrossing America to support conservative candidates for office. My dad also served eight years as California’s governor. When he ran for President, he had a proven conservative track record.
Donald Trump doesn’t have one. In fact, Trump still can’t explain his sudden change from being a liberal Democrat. When dad ran in 1980, Trump donated the maximum amount to Jimmy Carter. As the Wall Street Journal reported, Trump also donated to a PAC for Walter Mondale, who ran against dad in 1984.Trump has criticized some candidates for their indiscretions made during their childhood. But what can you say for a grown adult who supported both Carter and Mondale over Ronald Reagan?
Reagan then goes on to share a lesson that he learned from his dad about judging people by their actions, not their words.
One of my dad’s most important lessons to me was how to uncover a phony. He told me not to judge people by what they say; judge them by what they actually do. As President, dad used this “trust but verify” principle on the Soviets and it worked. Voters today should apply Reagan’s verify principle on Trump.
During the 2008 election, Trump told CNN that he wanted President George W. Bush impeached. Then, during Obama’s first year in the White House, after he rammed through Congress a $800 billion stimulus and proposed a radical health care takeover, Trump praised the President, saying he was “amazing” and “truly phenomenal.”
Obama’s then chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel was a player in passing Obamacare. Rahm eventually left the White House to run for Chicago’s mayor. In 2010, Trump actually donated $50,000 to Rahm’s mayoral campaign! Just last year Trump told “60 Minutes” he wants single-payer health care like they have in Canada and Britain. It’s nothing less than socialized medicine.
For most of his life Trump had been a Democrat, backing strong gun control and abortion rights. Today he says he’s for the Second Amendment and pro-life. But when asked who he’d like for the Supreme Court, he suggested his sister, a sitting federal judge. It turns out she’s liberal and pro-choice.
Trump also donated to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. In 2012, after she had served almost four years as Secretary of State, Trump had nothing but praise for her. He told CNN: “I think she does a good job … The record of Hillary Clinton and how did she do as Secretary of State, probably above and beyond everybody else.” Folks, this was in 2012.
Reagan also notes that Trump, who now supports a “touch-back” amnesty program, lambasted Mitt Romney in 2012 for his, in Trump’s words, “crazy policy of self-deportation which was maniacal,” Trump said. . . . “It sounded as bad as it was, and he lost all of the Latino vote,” Trump said. “He lost the Asian vote. He lost everybody who is inspired to come into this country.”
In short, Reagan states, “You can’t be a Trump Republican and a Reagan Republican. It’s time to choose.”
In an interview with NewsMax, Reagan had more to say:
Reagan also argued his father would be “absolutely appalled” if Trump wins the GOP presidential nomination.
. . . . “I get so tired of people coming to me saying ‘he reminds me of your father’ and I just go, ‘how?'” Reagan said. “Donald Trump never supported Ronald Reagan. He supported [Walter] Mondale, he supported [Jimmy] Carter. Those are the people he supported against the nomination and election of Ronald Reagan.”
“And If you look at what he has said and you look at what he’s done over the years, it has nothing to do with conservatism and everything to do with liberalism,” Reagan added.
In light of Trump’s attempt to invoke President Reagan and of Michael Reagan’s response, it’s worth watching clips of both men during their respective debates and thinking about whether or not they are alike.
First up, Donald Trump:
And next, then-Governor Ronald Reagan: