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U.S. ELECTION WRAP: Reagan Expert Sees GOP Ruin and Rebuild || Bloomberg

U.S. ELECTION WRAP: Reagan Expert Sees GOP Ruin and Rebuild

By Kim Chipman and Gregory Giroux

The message sent by the rising number of Republicans who say they won’t attend or won’t speak at the party’s national convention is clear: “It’s a vote of no confidence in Donald Trump,” according to Ronald Reagan biographer Craig Shirley.

  • “The Republican Party is in the process of destroying itself — that’s the bad news,” Shirley says in an interview. “The good news is the Republican Party has destroyed itself before and rebuilt”
  • While Shirley, who’s authored three books on Reagan, is among those not planning to attend next month’s convention in Cleveland, he’s not suggesting other Republicans follow suit
    • “Party loyalty does count for something,” he says, noting that the two most prominent Republicans who stuck by Barry Goldwater in 1964 went on to become presidents: Richard Nixon and Reagan
    • “If you want a future in Republican Party politics you want to go,” he says. “You can be loyal to your party without being loyal to your candidate”
  • Trump or no Trump, he adds, today’s conventions just aren’t as fun or dynamic as they once were
    • “Consultants have ruined the spontaneity and importance of political conventions,” he says, calling the gatherings “infomercials”
  • Former GOP presidential contenders Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Gov. John Kasich both tell New York Times they haven’t sought a speaking slot at the convention; Trump said last week that he won’t invite his two former rivals to give speeches unless they endorse him, which neither has done
  • Politico yesterday reported that few of more than 50 prominent Republicans they spoke to said they plan to go to Cleveland

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Craig Shirley: High Court McDonnell Decision Victory Over ‘Out-of-Control Judiciary’ || Newsmax

Craig Shirley: High Court McDonnell Decision Victory Over ‘Out-of-Control Judiciary’
By Cathy Burke   |   Monday, 27 Jun 2016 10:17 PM

Presidential historian Craig Shirley hailed a Supreme Court decision Monday that tossed out Republican former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell’s corruption convictions, declaring it a victory over “an out-of-control judiciary.”

In an interview with “Newsmax Prime” host J.D. Hayworth, the Ronald Reagan biographer said the decision brought to mind the case of former Reagan administration Labor Secretary Ray Donovan.

After Donovan’s acquittal in 1987 of New York state charges of fraud and grand larceny, Donovan asked: ”The question is, should this indictment have ever been brought? Which office do I go to to get my reputation back?”

“We have an out-of-control Justice Department,” Shirley said, saying that was proved with its “illegal prosecution of Sen. Ted Stevens,” the late Alaska politician who was toppled by a corruption conviction, whose indictment was later dismissed because of prosecutorial misconduct.

Shirley said the high court decision Monday again illustrated over-reach of prosecutor who went “falsely after Bob McDonald.”

Video at link:  Now!

How the 1976 GOP convention set Reagan on the path to power || Q & A in the Christian Science Monitor

How the 1976 GOP convention set Reagan on the path to power

By Randy Dotinga

Former California Governor Ronald Reagan was a rather unlikely candidate for the highest office in the land when he arrived in Kansas City in the summer of 1976 for the Republican National Convention. A hotheaded politician known for his bitter standoffs with student protesters, the former Hollywood actor had once co-starred with a chimp named Bonzo.

But his rival, Gerald Ford, didn’t have a firm hold on his job. An accidental president who’d never been voted to any office beyond congressman, he’d annoyed much of the nation by pardoning Richard Nixon. And despite his history as an all-American football player and war hero, Ford found himself lampooned as a bumbler. To make matters more dicey, Reagan couldn’t stand him.

The race between the two men was close when the Kansas City convention began in August 1976. History tells us Ford would win the nomination and and go on to lose to Jimmy Carter in November.

As another GOP convention looms this summer, 40 years later, many American history buffs don’t realize how close the race was and how the convention prepared Ronald Reagan for victory just four year later.

Historian and political consultant Craig Shirley, who worked for Reagan’s campaigns in the 1980s and personally knows many GOP bigwigs, chronicled the surprising convention story in his 2005 book Reagan’s Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started It All.

In an interview with the Monitor, Shirley talks about the acrimony, the shenanigans and the disunity. But thanks to a graceful decision by his rival, he says, a superstar is born when Reagan speaks “straight from the heart.”

Q: It’s fairly uncommon for incumbent presidents to face opposition when they run for another term. Why was President Ford so weak?

He was an unelected president and had only been voted in from one congressional district in Michigan. As a result, he had a very tenuous hold on the leadership of the party, and no Republican had made an investment in him. He didn’t have the diehard conservative support that Nixon enjoyed.

But he misunderstood that, and he proceeded to pursue all of Nixon’s liberal policies like continued detente with the Soviets, overtures to China, wage and price controls and a lot of liberal domestic foreign and domestic policy initiatives.

Q: Reagan couldn’t stand Ford. What was behind their acrimony?

What really set Reagan off was that there were a lot of personal insults emanating from the Ford White House that got back to Sacramento. For example, in October of 1974, Ford gave a jokey speech to the Gridiron Club and said Governor Reagan doesn’t dye his hair. It’s just turning prematurely orange.

They weren’t on the same wave length, and it was worse between Nancy Reagan and Betty Ford.

Q: What happened regarding the visit of Soviet dissident writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn?

Solzhenitsyn came to Washington and was welcomed by Senators Jesse Helms and Joe Biden and unofficially by Ronald Reagan, who wrote columns and did radio commentaries.

But Ford, at the urging of Henry Kissinger, refused to meet Solzhenitsyn, even though he’d met with the Strawberry Queen of West Virginia. This knuckling under to the Soviets really teed off Reagan.

Q: Did Reagan really have a chance to win by the time of the GOP convention in 1976?

It was a seesaw battle all through the spring and into the summer. Republicans gathered in August in Kansas City without knowing who their nominee would be. Neither Reagan or Ford had enough votes for a first ballot nomination.

There were several hundred uncommitted and wavering delegates, and it all contributed to an surreal atmosphere of high drama and not knowing who the nominee was going to be.

It was a battle of the titans. These were two giant political leaders. One is president of the United States, and the other is a leader of the conservative movement.

Q: I have a sense that Ford wasn’t a tough politician, but I might be swayed by Chevy Chase’s portrayal of him as a clumsy oaf. What kind of political operator was he?

By contrast to Nixon, anyone would look like a nice guy. But let there be no doubt that Ford was a tough, hard-nosed political operative. After all, he’d attempted to impeach a Supreme Court justice in the 1960s.

Q: What was his background?

He grew up poor, an orphan, and he’d been an all-American football player and a legitimate hero in World War II.

What was it like at the Kansas City convention?

It was extremely hot, extremely humid. The men all wore polyester suits, and women had bouffant hair and synthetic pant suits. Everybody smoked, and a blue cloud would materialize over the convention hall each evening.

Q: What are some of your favorite stories of shenanigans at the convention?

The Ford boys and some Ford supporters were accused of dumping trash on the Texas delegates, who were all for Reagan. One of Ford’s sons says it was confetti. It wasn’t confetti.

Then there was the matter of a phone being pulled out of its holder by a Utah delegate. The phone ended up in the possession of Vice President Nelson Rockefeller. He was photographed with it over his head, cackling, trying to show he’d taken it back. But a lot of people saw it as a metaphor for Rockefeller not being able to talk to his own party.

Q: By your account, Reagan was able to turn his fortunes around at the end of the convention and put himself in a good position to run again in 1980. What happened?

He was not supposed to speak the last night of the convention. He’d already lost the nomination by 67 votes, just a handful of delegates.
Ford speaks and knows he’s still presiding over a divided party and the only way to unite them is to get Reagan down from his skybox to speak to the audience.

Reagan gives an extemporaneous speech. It’s straight from the heart, a peek into the big issues on his mind about freedom, peace and security, and nuclear war.

Q: How did the audience react?

As he’s giving a speech, a Ford supporter from Florida turns to one of Reagan’s aides, and she says, “Oh my God, we’ve nominated the wrong man.” This was probably the feeling of a lot of Ford people that night after Reagan spoke.

Q: What was the legacy of the convention for the general election in 1976, which was won by an upstart Democrat named Jimmy Carter?

The Republican party was divided, split evenly between Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford. Parties with divided conventions tend to lose in the fall, and parties with united conventions tend to win.

Ford wins the nomination and goes on to lose the election narrowly. But Reagan wins hearts at the convention and has laid the foundation to run again in 1980 if he wants to.

Q: What did it all mean for Reagan’s future?

If Ronald Reagan doesn’t run in 1976, then he doesn’t run in 1980, and there’s no Reagan revolution, and none of the monumental great ideas of the time.

By running in 1976, he becomes a better candidate, more thoughtful. The Reagan in 1964 or even 1976 is often angry – angry at student protesters, at Gerald Ford, at the economy, at the humiliation of Vietnam.

In 1980, he runs as a much more thoughtful conservative. He doesn’t talk about limitations. He talks about a limitless future.

Randy Dotinga, a Monitor contributor, is immediate past president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors.

Trump Is Not Ronald Reagan — Nor Should He Try To Be || Investor’s Business Daily


Trump Is Not Ronald Reagan — Nor Should He Try To Be

When Ronald Reagan won the nomination in 1980, he received over 61% of the GOP primary vote. Donald Trump has, to date, received 41%.  (Arnie Sachs - CNP/Newscom)

By Craig Shirley and John Heubusch

No president in the last 50 years is cited, invoked, or referenced more often than Ronald Reagan. His name in politics is so ubiquitous that it wouldn’t be a campaign season without candidates being compared to The Great Communicator.

In the 2016 GOP primary season, various candidates clamored over each other to channel President Reagan.  Some like Governor Scott Walker did so through a resume of fiscal disciple and conservative principles as a public servant, others like Ted Cruz often cited Reagan’s 1976 and 1980 campaigns as inspirations. Clearly some attempts were more genuine than others, but as Samuel Johnson once said, “Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those we cannot resemble.”

Even the opposite end of the political spectrum tries to channel President Reagan’s legacy to their own ends. A Feb. 11 issue of Time had Reagan and Obama on the cover comparing the two men and claiming they shared a “bromance.” We should note that it is our professional opinion that Reagan would never consent to being in a “bromance” with anyone on general principle.

In truth, there is very little to compare the two presidents, especially on philosophy. Reagan believed fervently in liberty and the primacy and dignity of the individual while Obama champions a central state and an activist government built on liberal mores. President Obama is the consummate American liberal and Reagan was the consummate American conservative. They were and are quite literally polar opposites.

For the record, Reagan never said he wanted to be the next FDR, or the next Calvin Coolidge. He was far too self-confident and inner directed. He did quote the Framers and Founders often, as he sometime cited Roosevelt, but he never said anything resembling “I am going to be the next John Kennedy.” He articulated his own vision for America informed by the lessons of those leaders who came before him but never sought to cloak himself in the largess of another.

 While Donald Trump adopted the slogan of Reagan on the baseball cap he wears, there was tremendous substance behind “making America great again.”

To be fair, Donald Trump has less and less compared himself to Reagan.  Trump has technically won the nomination but not yet the election. Trump also oddly claims he’s received more primary votes than any other Republican candidate in history, but that is a result of a growing population, not popularity.

When Reagan won the nomination in 1980, he received over 61% of the GOP primary vote.  Trump has, to date, received 41% of the Republican primary vote. While the numbers don’t quite match, the specter of Reagan is still floated by many.

The real culprits of false comparisons to President Reagan are some third-party activists and columnists and commentators, reaching for the easy and superficial but deeply flawed comparisons between the two men. These reports are often informed by nothing more than a few anecdotes and a light history lesson.  One true similarity of both is their names adorn many buildings and other structures. However, the honors to Reagan were done by admirers; the honors to Trump are part of his brand.

More directly, Reagan advocated a strong border, but illegal immigration was simply not the problem in 1980 that it is today. However, President Reagan  did sign the Simpson Mazzoli Act and as he wrote in his diaries that evening, it was to get control of our borders. Congress never held up its end of the bargain with the bill  —  its will to address the border problem with funds and resources proved to be weak and President Reagan and key advisors such as Ed Meese saw the deal as the worst compromise of his eight year administration.

Reagan spoke of conservatism as based upon a God-inspired individual. In 1980, he used the phrase, “Man with God.” Reagan was able to synthesize his two favorite philosophers, Solzhenitsyn and Paine, believing that if Man was at the center of the universe, it was because God put him there and, moreover, if every man is inspired by God, then God is in each man at the center of the universe.  As is inscribed on President Reagan’s tombstone, “there is purpose and worth to each and every life.”

We asked the respected polling firm of McLaughlin and Associates to add in a couple of questions to their weekly omnibus survey asking Republicans about the Trump and Reagan comparisons and the results were revealing.

When Americans were asked if Trump and Reagan were similar, 25.5% said yes, but 58% said no, Reagan and Trump were not similar. When asked if Trump would be as successful a president as Reagan, 33.2% said yes and 48% said no, with 18.7% unsure.

This is not to suggest that because most do not see Trump as Reagan or having the potential to be as successful, that they don’t want him to be either. The American people have always had a healthy skepticism of politicians. What people want is a leader who can take the lessons of President Reagan — as Reagan took the lessons of FDR, Jefferson, and Washington — and advanced the nation forward. No doubt, the challenges of globalization and new technologies present opportunities and potential hostilities in equal measure.

Trump can walk President Reagan’s path where he so chooses for now but if he wishes to truly honor it, he must advance beyond it. As George Bernard Shaw said, “Imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery; it is the sincerest form of learning.”

As convention nears, Ted Cruz continues to hold out support for Donald Trump || San Antonio Express News

As convention nears, Ted Cruz continues to hold out support for Donald Trump

WASHINGTON — As Republicans start to coalesce around Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, a high-stakes game is playing out over what role defeated rival Ted Cruz could play at the party’s national convention in July.

 Almost three weeks since the Indiana primary, which knocked Cruz out of the race, the U.S. senator from Texas continues to withhold his support for the outspoken real estate mogul, whom he attacked as “utterly immoral” and a “pathological liar.”

At stake for Cruz is a coveted speaking slot at the convention, a platform that served as a launch pad to the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama.

With his eye on 2020, Cruz faces a difficult time of choosing between his conservative principles and the pragmatic need for party unity in the face of the coming fall clash with presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Officials in the camps of Trump and Cruz — the top two rivals in the GOP nomination battle — declined to comment on their plans for a possible stage appearance by Cruz, who will arrive at the convention with a throng of about 567 delegates.

 “Conversations about the program are just beginning,” said Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski. “This is very much something we do alongside the campaign and have now started that process.”

The negotiations are likely to be delicate, according to GOP operatives and analysts with experience in national conventions. The sensitivities involved could resonate from the top party echelons down to the grass-roots base.

“It certainly would not make sense for Ted Cruz not to have a speaking slot at the national convention,” said Dr. Robin Armstrong, a Cruz supporter and RNC member from Friendswood. “If he did not have a role at the convention, I would be shocked. If everyone is talking about unity going forward in November, that would be a good step toward it.”

Former Texas GOP Chairman Steve Munisteri, a veteran of the 1976 convention battle between Reagan and President Gerald Ford, said much could depend on the final position Cruz takes on Trump.

“In order to have a speaking spot, you have to have endorsed the nominee,” said Munisteri, one of the Lone Star State’s 155 convention delegates. “That’s the question that comes first.”

Although decisions about speakers and other facets of the nationally televised convention program technically are up to the party, Munisteri said the most critical decisions are heavily influenced by the nominee’s campaign.

“My experience is that the presumptive nominee decides who speaks at the convention, and I would be surprised if the person deciding who speaks would agree to let somebody speak who’s not behind him,” Munisteri said.

Some analysts suggest that the decision may not be so clear-cut for Trump, particularly as he seeks to woo skeptical conservatives in what some now call the Cruz wing of the party.

“I don’t know how much Trump can control, but at this point, Trump probably needs Cruz more than Cruz needs Trump,” said Reagan biographer Craig Shirley. “Trump needs a unified convention, and Cruz leads an important constituency.”

Shirley’s chronicle of the contested 1976 convention between Reagan and Ford often is cited in Republican circles as a model for how Cruz could use a passionate convention speech to set the stage for another White House bid, as Reagan did.

After losing to Ford in a bitter floor fight, Reagan famously was invited at the last minute to join the incumbent president on stage. However unprepared, Reagan galvanized the crowd in a way Ford had not.

Shirley’s account came from Reagan field operative Kenny Klinge, who recalled a Ford delegate from Florida turning to him and saying, “Oh my God, we have nominated the wrong man.”

Few would expect Cruz to steal the show from Trump, a reality TV star who built his campaign on massively raucous televised rallies. Shirley, however, sees opportunities in Cleveland for both men, despite their bitter rivalry.

“What it requires is for both of them to get past the past and focus on the future,” Shirley said. “Both have an interest in unity. Cruz gets to speak and lay the groundwork for a future run, and Trump gets a unified convention. So, they both have a shared interest during one narrow slice of history.”

There also are risks. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett recalled the 1992 Republican convention in Houston. The main business at hand was nominating President George H.W. Bush for re-election, but it is better remembered for long-shot rival Pat Buchanan’s opening-night “Culture War” call to arms for a nationwide battle over social values.

“A lot of people look back on that and say that it damaged Bush,” said Emmett, a Republican who supported the former president’s son, Jeb Bush, in this year’s primaries. “But in this case, I don’t think there’s anything Cruz says that can damage Trump.”

While the maverick billionaire has made no public overtures to Cruz since he became the presumptive GOP nominee, he still is laboring to win the support of other top Republican luminaries, from 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Some analysts say Cruz, as a link to the party’s grass-roots base, actually could be more important to Trump.

“Cruz has structural power, because he has delegates, and he has symbolic power, because he is seen to be the heir apparent to the Republican nomination,” said University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus.

There are risks for Cruz, as well.

“The party is closing ranks, and you don’t want to be the person who was not part of the team,” Munisteri said.

Either outcome in November could have a downside for a GOP rival who holds out: A Trump victory would leave Cruz isolated within his own party; while a Clinton victory could be blamed on conservative disunity.

If the convention presents a delicate dance for the two rivals, Rottinghaus sees the potential for a face-saving accommodation in which Cruz could campaign against Clinton without explicitly endorsing Trump.

“I think the Trump campaign would be happy to have Cruz fill the role of ‘attacker in chief’ even if he never says ‘Donald Trump is going to be the next president,’” Rottinghaus said.

Weighing on Cruz’s decision is a Texas delegation that has grown increasingly reconciled to Trump, even as most of the delegates’ loyalties remain with Cruz, including more than half the 48 delegates who are bound to Trump.

That was seen at this month’s state GOP convention in Dallas, where Cruz got standing ovations and Trump’s name hardly came up. “The Trump people just didn’t show up,” said Texas GOP strategist Brendan Steinhauser.

A similar display could be awkward in Cleveland.

“There’s certainly some frustration and anger. There’s some major disappointment among Cruz supporters,” Steinhauser said. “So, I think they will focus on other things.”

That would be the inevitable debates over the national party’s platform and rules, both potential battlegrounds with implications for a 2020 Cruz candidacy.

While some Cruz holdouts remain, Texas GOP officials say the majority are going to Cleveland determined to beat Clinton. That means backing Trump — with or without Cruz.

“I expect there will be a great emphasis on unity as we move forward to Cleveland, but I think people need to have time to adjust to it,” said Texas GOP Party Chairman Tom Mechler. “It’s still pretty fresh from what happened a few weeks ago in Indiana.”

As Cruz supporter Armstrong put it: “We all understand who the nominee is. We’re not all happy about that, but we’re going to get on board. You’ve got to put on your big-boy pants, your cowboy boots and spurs, and move forward.”