Tag Archives: Donald Trump

What Trump can learn from Reagan and the ’76 delegate fight

April 11 at 12:08 PM
As we approach what may be the first contested GOP convention since 1976, Donald Trump is complaining that Ted Cruz is using “crooked shenanigans” to win delegates and deny him the Republican presidential nomination. But Cruz is doing exactly what Ronald Reagan did in ’76 in his insurgent campaign for the GOP nomination — running a well-organized ground game designed to win every available delegate at state and local conventions across the country. Trump’s failure to respond with a ground game of his own could cost him the nomination.

Like Trump today, the Ford team complained about Reagan’s tactics. As Craig Shirley recounts in his masterful history of the 1976 campaign, Ford’s chief delegate hunter, James Baker, complained to Time magazine that Ford’s people were being “out hustled” by Reagan, declaring “These Reagan people don’t care; they’re absolutely ruthless. They want all of it.” Reagan traveled across the county addressing state and local conventions, and called uncommitted delegates inviting them to private dinners (adding “By the way, do you mind if I bring along John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart?”).

Marc Thiessen writes a weekly column for The Post on foreign and domestic policy and contributes to the PostPartisan blog. He is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the former chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush.
Unlike Trump today, Ford responded in kind, inviting unbound delegates to the Oval Office and sending operatives to state conventions to flip Reagan delegates to his side. In a handwritten letter recently released by the Jesse Helms Center, Reagan wrote Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) — who had saved his campaign by delivering North Carolina for Reagan — about his frustrations with the Ford team’s tactics. “I’ve never been so disgusted in all my life,” Reagan told Helms. “In every convention the W.H. gang are there manipulating, trying to get the rules changed, etc. . . . Don’t get me wrong, I still think we’ll take him. But Jesse it almost seems as if they are out to win a convention instead of an election.”

Ted Cruz is out-hustling Trump. On Saturday, Cruz spoke at Colorado’s state GOP convention and shut Trump out, winning all 34 of the state’s pledged delegates. Trump complained: “There was no voting. I didn’t go out there to make a speech or anything.” Well, whose fault is that?

Trump also didn’t give a speech in North Dakota, but Cruz did — and won 18 of 25 delegates. In Louisiana, a state Trump won by just 3.6 percentage points, the Wall Street Journal reports that Cruz “may wind up with as many as 10 more delegates from the state” than Trump. Why? Because Cruz successfully courted the state’s five unbound delegates and won over five Marco Rubio delegates who became free agents after the senator from Florida suspended his campaign.

By picking up handfuls of delegates in these and other states, and beating Trump in key primaries such as Wisconsin, Cruz hopes to deny Trump the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the nomination on the first ballot. Then Cruz is taking another page out of the Reagan playbook. As Shirley notes, in ’76, the Reagan team loaded state delegations with Reagan supporters who “although bound on a first ballot at the national convention . . . would be freed to vote their individual preference on any subsequent ballots.”

Cruz is similarly working to elect delegates who, while bound to support Trump on a first ballot, will support Cruz on subsequent ballots. In Virginia’s 9th Congressional District, for example, two of the three delegates electedtold The Post that “they would vote for Cruz if voting on a GOP nominee goes into multiple rounds.” In Georgia’s Coweta County — which Trump won by 12 percentage points — Cruz supporters won an estimated 90 percent of the county’s delegates to the state and district conventions that will choose Georgia’s delegates at the Republican National Convention. In Michigan, Cruz’s campaign believes it has elected its supporters to at least five of the 25 delegate slots pledged to Trump. It has been a similar story in South Carolina,Indiana, Tennessee, South Dakota and other states.

There is nothing wrong with this. Cruz is fighting for every available delegate according to the rules, just as Reagan did. And who is Trump to complain? Trump defends his businesses’ multiple bankruptcies by saying he had simply “taken advantage of the laws of the country” that are available to all Americans. Well, Cruz is taking advantage of the rules of the state parties that are available to all the candidates.

If Trump can’t compete, he has no one to blame but himself. Back in February, after losing Iowa to Cruz, Trump admitted he “never realized” the importance of building a field organization. But instead of going out and building that field organization, he has done the opposite. Politico reportsthat “Since March, [Trump] has been laying off field staff en masse around the country.” Trump brags about how rich he is, but he has run his campaign on the cheap, relying on provocative tweets and his massive advantage in free media to win primaries. He’s now learning that Twitter and free media can’t win delegates.

Trump likes to compare himself to Ronald Reagan. Well, if he doesn’t stop complaining and start campaigning, he may end up as Reagan did in ’76 — the runner-up.

Newt Gingrich and Craig Shirley: Reaganism is Alive and Well

Gingrich is former Speaker of the House. Shirley is a Reagan biographer.

We understand the frustration some members of the GOP establishment must be feeling over the rise of Donald Trump. Trump’s success (compounded by Ted Cruz’s success) is putting the old order on trial. But just because the establishment class is feeling the heat today doesn’t mean that the Party of Reagan Is No More, as Peter Wehner contended in an essay for TIME.

In fact, the good news is that Reaganism is alive and well in America and in the GOP. It remains the dominant philosophy among center-right Americans.

It is the old, Washington-centered GOP establishment that is threatened with diminution at best and extinction at worst.

Very few people call themselves a “Nixon Republican” or a “Bush Republican,” but many if not most in the GOP call themselves “Reagan Republicans.” Just last month, hundreds of Republican organizations celebrated their annual “Reagan Day Dinners” or “Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinners.” To the best of our knowledge, no one celebrated dinners named for other GOP presidents. This is not going to change.

It’s true that Reagan’s philosophy of less government and more freedom combined with a muscular but careful foreign policy went through a dismemberment during the later Republican presidencies, but Reaganism is staging a strong comeback. Even today, many of the candidates for the 2016 nomination have invoked Reagan’s policies in detail and with fondness, and talk of bringing the party back to Reaganism.

Most understand the difference between Reagan’s conservatism based in the American Revolution—a conservatism that puts its faith in individuals—and the old Washington establishment’s more European brand of conservatism, which puts it trust in big systems. The division within the Republican Party about bailouts is just one example of this fault line.

Reagan was faced with his own “Black Monday” in 1987, but refused to panic, believing in the marketplace. Reagan knew that presidents, as Harry Truman said, had to say “no” more often than “yes.” Within months, the markets settled down and returned to their vigor, without new bureaucracies and unaccountable bailouts.

We’ve heard before that Reaganism is over. After narrowly losing the nomination to Gerald Ford in 1976, the GOP political class and their supplicants in the media wrote off Reagan. The New York Times opined, “the battle will be carried on with new leadership…”

We heard it again in 1980, after Reagan lost the Iowa caucuses to George Bush. We heard it again in 1982, after the GOP lost House races. We heard it again in 1988, when the GOP nominee, George H. W. Bush, rebuked Reaganism, calling for a “kinder, gentler,” political philosophy. And we heard it in 2000 when “compassionate conservatism” was pushed to replace limited government conservatism.

Meanwhile, we have to remember the shape of the party in 1976. It had 18 percent approval, controlled only one legislature and governorship (Kansas), and had no elected officials in some parts of the south. The national Republican Party was so broke that it closed the offices for three weeks in December just to save on the electricity. The Republican Party had 140 House members and only 38 Senators, meaning the Democrats could ram through the Congress anything they wanted to—and that’s what they did.

Reagan led the GOP to a stunning victory in 1980. He trailed Carter by 25 points in March but his message resonated with the American people and he won a stunning victory. He carried in twelve senators with him (shocking Washington Republicans none of whom thought they could win the Senate) and gained 34 seats in the House along with hundreds of state legislators.

Unfortunately, the Bush 41 presidency was a detour into tax increases and cooperation with liberal Democrats. It lasted one term.

The party only began to stage a comeback in 1994 when it made the election a referendum on Clinton’s liberalism in contrast to Reagan conservatism. The GOP won in a landslide and long-shots like Joe Scarborough in Florida won because they ran as pure Reaganites. No one in the Washington establishment thought the GOP could win the House in 1994, but the Reaganite GOP forced Bill Clinton to say, “The era of Big Government is over.”

What Wehner is missing is that this perennial competition between Reaganism and the old Washington based GOP establishment is not going away. It is a semi-permanent split in the GOP. The GOP establishment argues over how fast or slowly to grow government, rather than how fast or slowly to grow personal freedom, which is the view of Reaganism.

It may be lamentable to Wehner, but Reaganism is not dead. It’s just that millions of Republican voters who identify with Reaganism believe that, at a time when the bureaucratic state is stretching the limits of its powers everywhere we look, the Trump-Cruz outsiders are far more likely than the comfortable Washington establishment in achieving Reagan’s vision of a freer, stronger and more prosperous America.

Newt Gingrich is the former speaker of the US House and the author of 27 books. Craig Shirley is a Reagan biographer and presidential historian and the author of the newly released Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan.

Mitt Romney will go down as the Nelson Rockefeller of the 21st Century

Mitt Romney will go down as a sad foot note in history, the Nelson Rockefeller of the 21st century. Too much time and money on his hands, too few ideas.

Before Ronald Reagan was Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan wasn’t Ronald Reagan. In the 60’s and 70’s, Ronald Reagan was often derided by the eastern elites, by the academia, by the establishment of the Republican Party. He was considered the George Wallace of the Republican Party, a Grade B Actor with premature orange hair, and even in 1980, when he started to break loose and head towards the nomination, the party elders in a panic went to see Gerald Ford to try to get Gerald Ford back in the race to stop Ronald Reagan.

Craig Shirley: The Fall of the House of Bush


by CRAIG SHIRLEY   21 Feb 2016

That plummeting sound you hear is the fall of the House of Bush. Unfortunately for the family, it is not falling silently into the woods and there are plenty of people to hear it and witness it and, in time, kick over the dead embers of Bushism.

With Jeb Bush’s dismal loss in South Carolina comes the end of the Bush dynasty, which given the rise of President George HW Bush in 1980 (and even before with Senator Prescott Bush) as Ronald Reagan’s running mate, and later two presidencies, it lasted well over 30 years. Only the Adams’s, the Roosevelts, and the Kennedys could make the same claim as goes political dynasties.

Years ago, Sports Illustrated ran a cover story on the Green Bay Packers the year after Vince Lombardi left and the team had reverted back to losing. The headline read, “A Dynasty Totters” and I recall the wistful feeling as I held that issue. Years later, I am experiencing that same sentiment even as conservatives often disagreed with the family.

The embarrassment of the Bush family will be difficult and this is cheerless for that proud and patriotic family.

While the Bush family was smart in an Ivy League sort of way, it was never clear if they were as wise as presidents should be. It seemed as if they too often asked “Can we do this?” rather than “Should we do this?”

Harry Truman once said a president’s job is to say yes and no, but mostly no. Bush 41 didn’t say no to the hectoring he received from the Big Government Republicans to raise taxes and Bush 43 didn’t say no to the neocons wanting to invade and occupy Iraq.

Ironically, it may have been Governor Jeb Bush who was the most conservative, the most affable and the most temperamentally suited to be president and had he won in 1994, things might have been radically different.

Somehow, I doubt Jeb will run again in four years if the Republicans fail to wrest the White House from the Democrats although he will still be younger than Ronald Reagan was in 1980 if he chooses to do so.

Meanwhile, Politico has been running the same old tired clichés about Bush’s now lifeless campaign such as “running on fumes” and other unimaginative phrases. They don’t see the historical significance in Bush’s unsuccessful effort.

There is great meaning in Jeb Bush’s demise. This is not simply the loss of Carly Fiorina or Rick Santorum.

Jeb’s loss is the loss of an entire culture. It means the established order is waning, the donor class of the GOP no longer holds sway, and the power no longer resides with the party committees.

It means those writers and organizations and publications and individuals who subscribed to a New World Order and Big Government Republicanism are also in steep decline. It is yet another indications that the party is returning to the federalism of Ronald Reagan, to American conservatism. The party is going back to the future.

One of those neocon periodicals recently called Trumpism a “virus” for questioning the Iraq War. Donald Trump should not have said that President George Bush “lied” but that is besides the point. The need for a debate about the war has remained unspoken out of simple party loyalty. John Kennedy once said sometimes party loyalty demanded too much. The Republican Party is overdue in having this debate.

Many Reaganites had their differences with the Bush family including 41’s tax increase along with the “kinder and gentler” rebuke of Ronald Reagan, a New World Order, and 43’s “compassionate conservatism” and nation building in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bush 43 also greatly increased federal spending and basically left a burning hole in the ground where Reagan’s conservatism used to reside. Thus the rise of the tea party movement and anti-establishmentism.

Despite party’s the turn away from Reagan some years ago, most refuse to believe that the Bush family was malicious. Oh, they were probably jealous of the affection in the party and the country for the Gipper, but that was not the prime motivator for their differing approach to governance. They simply came from a different part of the jungle, saw the world differently.

The party has now moved beyond Bushism but this was a long time coming. With each election, the Bush point total went gradually down, from 1988 to 1992 to 2000 to 2004 and now with Jeb’s gloomy performances, it is over. Along the way there were blips up but mostly down as the party became more conservative, more populist, more anti foreign adventures and yes, more anti Bush.

Governor Bush was simply caught up and crumpled in the hand of history, as the Republican Party searches once again for its soul. We’ve seen this before, in 1964 and again in 1980. The problem after 1988, when Ronald Reagan left with historically high approval ratings and a coherent and winning philosophy for the GOP, was the establishment could not resist toying with success. The GOP became a house divided against itself though it is clear what the outcome will be.

The country does not need two big government parties.


Craig Shirley is a New York Times bestselling writer, a presidential historian, a Reagan biographer and author of the new book, Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan.

Reagan historian on the GOP debate: Donald Trump ran from the fight


‘So much for the comparisons between him and Reagan’

– The Washington Times – Thursday, January 28, 2016

Not everyone has accolades for the billionaire candidate, who has on occasion been compared to Ronald Reagan.

“Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump says he will not attend a debate scheduled for Thursday night in Des Moines, an unexpected twist just days before voters here launch the election process,” points outs Reagan biographer and presidential historian Craig Shirley.

“Ronald Reagan never ran away from a fight. Now apparently Donald Trump did just that. So much for comparisons between him and Reagan. Ronald Reagan is widely known as The Great Communicator. Donald Trump may be more aptly known as ‘The Mouth.’ ” Mr. Shirley says.