Category Archives: Mentions

Reagan Biographer Praises Trump: We Are Witnessing ‘New Form of Conservatism’


by JULIA HAHN    19 Jan 2016    Washington D.C.

In a Monday interview, acclaimed Reagan biographer Craig Shirley described GOP frontrunner Donald Trump as “a breath of fresh air” and explained that in Trump’s candidacy “We might be witnessing a new form of American conservatism emerging.”

Shirley, who heads the deeply-influential conservative public relations firm Shirley & Banister Public Affairs, explained that Trump’s honest campaign contrasts starkly with that of donor-class favorite Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). Shirley argued that Rubio’s position on immigration—a position, which conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly described as “anti-American” and “dangerous”— may prove to be “a campaign ender” for the young Florida Senator.

Part of Trump’s appeal, Shirley explained, is that Trump, as a successful businessman, knows how the political game works—i.e. he knows how donors are essentially able to buy politicians and get them to them to champion their special interests. Shirley likened Trump’s sincere and populist campaign to Paul’s conversion in the Bible. “He’s on a road to Damascus,” Shirley said of Trump’s campaign to crush the donor-class influence in Washington. “He’s gone through a reformation just like Paul did. There’s something quite refreshing to the American voters, especially Republican primary voters, to somebody who’s willing to confess their sins and ask for forgiveness, and then become… a crusader for reform. I think that’s part of his appeal.”

Shirley explained that in Donald Trump, “We might be witnessing a new form of American conservatism emerging in the persona of his campaign and his candidacy… Part of his appeal is that he’s so honest and so refreshing and so frank in his delivery of speeches and his comments.”

Indeed, Trump has been upfront about his desire to end the open border trade and immigration policies championed by the Ryan-Rubio wing of the party in Washington. In fact, Trump stands alone among the top-polling candidates in his aggressive opposition to Fast-Track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Shirley likened Rubio’s political double-talk to that of President Obama: “It is political double-talk and this is what infuriates the grassroots. This goes back to why Donald Trump is so refreshing. He’s so frank and honest in what he’s saying, even if they disagree with him, at least it’s a breath of fresh air, unlike the political double-talk that we’ve been getting from politicians from Barack Obama to Mitt Romney and now Marco Rubio.”

Shirley said that Rubio’s recent declaration on Meet The Press that he believes illegal aliens should be allowed to remain in the United States is “not going to help him. It’s just going to become another issue, another reason to vote against him, another reason to question him and another reason to doubt him. It’s not going to help him, and he ought to just stop with the political double-talk and just take a page out of Trump and just start talking straight to the American voter.”

Shirley said that Rubio’s statement “could be a campaign ender for Marco Rubio”:

I don’t know what he was thinking. I don’t think he had cleared his thoughts and had a real, prepared, honest answer for that question, which is astonishing if you think about it, because he’s on a national television broadcast, he’s a presidential candidate. He should have prepped himself in some way, shape or form to anticipate these types of questions. And it wasn’t a question out of left field at all! It was a pretty basic question about where he stood on immigration and if he changed his position or not.

Iowa Congressman Rep. Steve King (R-IA) recently explained that Sen. Rubio has not changed his position on the issue at all. “He’s embraced the Gang of Eight bill in the core of its entirety,” King said of Rubio’s comments on Meet The Press. “The Gang of Eight bill was always about amnesty.”

Shirley explained that Rubio’s efforts to dodge questions and mask his convictions stands in stark contrast to Ronald Reagan:

When you don’t have a firm set of convictions, you get up in the morning and ask ‘Where do I stand today? What is my answer yesterday? How can I tweak it or how can I dodge it or how can I amend it?’ That’s what made Ronald Reagan so compelling is that he had a governing framework, which was freedom. So he knew the answer to every question because it was about government power versus personal power and he was always going to come down on the side of personal power and rights and autonomy and privacy and dignity over the government, and that’s what made Reagan so compelling as a candidate, whereas Rubio is uncompelling because he doesn’t seem to have a set framework or a governing framework.

Haley Goes Full Establishment


South Carolina governor bashes Trump & abandons the GOP base that elected her

by Brendan Kirby

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s “rebuttal” to the State of the Union address may well have marked the completion of her journey from the Tea Party to the Establishment.

Mirroring the trajectory of so many Republicans who campaign on conservative principles and then settle into the Establishment after getting elected, Haley has abandoned the people who elected her.

Tuesday night, she decided to use the platform of a prime time State of the Union GOP response to undermine the leading Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump.

“Today, we live in a time of threats like few others in recent memory. During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices,” she said, an obvious reference to Trump. “We must resist that temptation.”

Then, while saying she opposed illegal immigration, she suggested any immigrant who loves America should be welcome, no matter, presumably, whose job they may be taking.

“No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country,” she said.

Haley had burst onto the national scene in 2010 with her upset Republican primary victory in the gubernatorial race, a campaign in which she ran as an unabashed tea party supporter who became one of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s “mamma grizzlies.”

During a 2011 interview with Sean Hannity, she tipped her hat to the populist wave that had put her in office.

“I think the people spoke loud and clear in the last election,” she said. “President Obama needs to admit this is a terrible mistake for our states.”

Ironically, just this past November, she gave voice to the very sentiments that are driving support for Trump.

“You have a lot of people who were told that if we got a majority in the House and a majority in the Senate, then life was gonna be great,” she said. “What you’re seeing is that people are angry. Where’s the change? Why aren’t there bills on the president’s desk every day for him to veto? They’re saying, ‘Look, what you said would happen didn’t happen, so we’re going to go with anyone who hasn’t been elected.’”

Trump, appearing on “Fox & Friends” Wednesday, struck back.

“Well, considering I’m leading in the polls by a lot, I wouldn’t say she’s off to a good start based on what she just said,” Trump deadpanned when asked on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” if he would consider her as a running mate.

Lest there be any doubt that Haley had Trump in mind when she make her remarks, she confirmed on the “Today” show Wednesday that he was one of the voices she was referring to.

“Mr. Trump has definitely contributed to what I think is irresponsible talk,” she said.

The setting of Haley’s remarks — a forum ostensibly designed to offer an alternative vision from the party in the White House — took many observers by surprise. Historian Craig Shirley said on “The Laura Ingraham Show” said Haley’s rebuttal is the first he can remember when a politician used the forum to criticize his or her own party.

Shirley, author of several biographies on Ronald Reagan, suggested that Haley begin immediately to repair the damage.

“She made a mess last night, and she’s got to clean it up,” he said. “And she’s got to move quickly to do so … Conservatives will forgive her. They made the investment in her when she ran as a tea party candidate, when she ran as an angry tea party candidate. And she’s been effective governor. Words got away from her last night.”

But Haley’s remarks did not come out of the blue; it was not the first time she has taken on Trump in public. She was blunt in September during a speech at the National Press Club in Washington.

“Every time someone criticizes him, he goes and makes a political attack back,” she said during a question-and-answer session of that event. “That’s not who we are as Republicans. That’s not what we do.”

Prior to that, Haley rankled some conservatives by removing the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds in response to a mass shooting at a black church in Charleston. Critics thought the move unfairly lent credence to the view that the flag is a racist symbol.

The Republicans running for president in 2012 coveted Haley’s support. She backed Establishment favorite Mitt Romney, who lost by South Carolina a wide margin to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Haley has not made an endorsement in the current race, but it sounds doubtful she will pick Trump. In addition to his lead in national surveys, his current RealClearPolitics polling average in Haley’s home state is 33 percent, 10 points ahead of Sen. Ted Cruz.

On the Fox show, Trump said it was clear from President Obama’s State of the Union address that the president does not like him very much. He said Obama is living in a “fantasy land.” Responding to a BBC report, he criticized the administration’s apology to Iran for violating the country’s territorial waters when a Navy ship experienced mechanical problems. Iran briefly held 10 American sailors.

But Trump focused much of his wrath on Haley.

“She’s weak on illegal immigration,” he said. “And she certainly has no trouble asking me for campaign contributions, because over the years, she’s asked me for a hell of a lot of campaign contributions.”

South Carolina campaign finance reports show that Trump donated $7,000 to Haley during her gubernatorial campaigns.

The American Conservative’s 2015 Books Symposium

The American Conservative

Our writers recommend the year’s best—and a few older gems to be rediscovered.

In Republicans’ dark style, is the Reagan era over?

Christian Science

Marco Rubio’s appeal as the Reaganesque optimist hasn’t caught on, while the intense rhetoric of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz has. 

By Linda Feldmann, Staff writer January 9, 2016

When Marco Rubio notably began 2016 with darker, more aggressive rhetoric, he dampened his image as the sunny, Reagan-like optimist of the Republican presidential field.

“If we get this election wrong, there may be no turning around for America,” Senator Rubio of Florida warned at a recent campaign stop in Mason City, Iowa.

The youthful Rubio still begins his stump speech with talk of “a new American century” and “our exceptional country,” but uses the bulk of his time attacking President Obama, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, and his GOP rivals, according to reports from the trail.

Clearly, GOP front-runner Donald Trump isn’t even trying to be the next President Reagan. Mr. Trump  scowls menacingly from the cover of his latest book, “Crippled America” – a title that screams pessimism. His rhetoric is intense and profane, his first television ad a 30-second litany of fear-inducing images. At the end of the ad, when he promises to “make America great again,” he’s shouting, not smiling.

And Trump’s closest competitor in the polls, Ted Cruz, is hardly Reagan stylistically, though he has tried to cloak himself in the Reagan mantle more than anybody else in the race. “He just doesn’t have Reagan’s personality,” says Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

“Rubio’s the only one who fits that mold,” says Professor Sabato. “But here’s Rubio’s problem: This is a party that doesn’t want sunny and optimistic. They want blood and gore. Rubio doesn’t convey enough urgency.”

Republicans are deeply angry, Sabato says, because in their view, they’ve endured seven years of outrages from Obama, and the country’s going down the tubes and this is the last chance to save it. Voters this cycle want to be understood more than they want to be inspired. So for now, the “Reagan era” is over, at least when it comes to his style.

“Among the Republicans, it’s deader than a doornail,” says Sabato. “As for the general election, we’ll see.”

The larger question for the party is how much to wrap up the future in reverence for Reagan. For a party eager to attract young voters, too much focus on the Gipper can make Republicans appear backward-looking, some party activists say.

Too wrapped in Reagan?

Reagan left office 27 years ago, when the world was a very different place. To people much under age 40, he is a figure in the history books.

In his 2013 book, “Hail Mary: The 10-Step Playbook for Republican Recovery,” Republican strategist Ford O’Connell scolds his party for having what he calls a “Reagan fixation.”

“It undermines the candidates, because it becomes a crutch for their inability to articulate an actual agenda or a forward-looking vision,” Mr. O’Connell writes.

O’Connell understands why some candidates wrap themselves in the Reagan mantle, at least during the primary. These are voters who remember Reagan, “people over age 50 who are mostly white men or married women,” O’Connell says in an interview. “That’s the Republican base, right or wrong.”

Craig Shirley, a public-relations specialist who has written three books about Reagan, disagrees that the party needs to move away from Reagan at any point in the campaign.

“There’s no doubt that Reagan’s shadow looms over the Republican Party more than it has at any time, and actually it continues to grow,” Mr. Shirley says. “Nobody goes around calling themselves a Bush Republican, though a lot of people call themselves Reagan Republicans.”

Even Obama once named Reagan as his model for how to be a transformational president, Shirley notes.

There’s a reason the Republican Party holds presidential debates at the Reagan Library, not the Nixon Library or either Bush Library or the Eisenhower Library: It’s still Reagan’s party.

Still, some candidates are more Reagan-centered than others. At the second Republican debate, held last October at the Reagan Library in California, many of the candidates were effusive in their discussion of the 40th president. One spoke of how his tax plan was modeled on the Reagan tax cuts of 1986. Some spoke of interacting with Reagan. Another spoke of how his Cuban grandfather loved Reagan.

Trump said nothing about Reagan at that debate. That’s not to suggest the New York billionaire is somehow hostile to Reagan’s memory, it just doesn’t seem all that relevant to his candidacy. As one who quit the GOP in 2000 and considered running for president under the banner of the Reform Party, Trump today (once again a registered Republican) doesn’t strike party regulars as a loyal Republican.

And so while he and Cruz are the top two Republicans in the polls, together accounting for 55 percent of Republican voters and both running as antiestablishment outsiders, their respective postures are quite different. Trump’s brand is his own, while Cruz presents himself as the keeper of the Reagan flame.

The Reagan of 2016

Cruz often compares 2016 to the election of 1980 – when Reagan won his first term – and promises a “restoration” of conservatism in every speech.

“It took Jimmy Carter to give us Ronald Reagan,” Cruz told TheBlaze recently. “I believe Barack Obama has set the stage for the same sort of fundamental restoration.”

He predicts victory by following Reagan’s admonition “to paint in bold colors, not pale pastels.”

But while Reagan was known for the well-timed quip, Cruz’s sense of humor is “somewhat forced,” he says.

Over the weekend, Rubio the “happy warrior” came back with a TV ad showing him tossing footballs and engaging in light banter.

“That’s very Reaganesque,” Sabato says.

Shirley, the Reagan biographer, sees elements of Reagan in several candidates – “in Rand Paul, his libertarian belief in the individual; in Ted Cruz, his passionate defense of conservatism; in Donald Trump, his challenge of the status quo.”

“But I would say that Cruz right now probably comes the closest to reigniting the Reagan coalition,” says Shirley.

Other Republicans see Cruz, the tea partyer whose hard-line tactics led to the government shutdown of 2013,  as too much of a purist to be Reagan’s political heir.

“Either you agree with Ted or you’re bordering on being a traitor, and Reagan wasn’t like that at all,” says Henry Barbour, Republican National Committeeman from Mississippi and co-author of the GOP’s post-2012 election report. “Reagan was a strong conservative, but he put the country before his own political interests. Cruz seems to be one who has his own political interests at heart.”

Jeb Bush: ‘My Brother’ George ‘Probably The Most Popular President Amongst Republicans’


by DR. SUSAN BERRY   5 Jan 2016

Republican presidential contender Jeb Bush said Tuesday that his brother – former President George W. Bush – is “probably the most popular president amongst Republicans in this country.”

The former Florida governor was speaking on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and was responding to a question about reported comments from 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney that George W. Bush’s legacy as president would be a burden to his brother.

Jeb Bush denied that his brother has been a factor in his standing in the polls leading up to the GOP primary. An NBC News poll released Tuesday finds Donald Trump with 35 percent of the Republican vote, followed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) with 18 percent, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) with 13 percent. Bush came in at 6 percent.

“The whole idea that he’s a burden — any mistakes I’ve made are my own,” the 2016 contender added. “I’m honored to be part of that family…All the psychobabble that goes along with it, I’ve gotten over it. You guys can meditate on your navels about that — I’m not.”

“Jeb is being very loyal to his brother which is understandable and even admirable, but he’s wrong about his brother’s standing among Republicans,” Craig Shirley, presidential historian and author of Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan, tells Breitbart News. “I would dare say that George W. is pulling up the rear far behind Reagan, Lincoln, Eisenhower and George H.W. Bush.”

“He’d be better off invoking his father than his brother,” Shirley adds. “The wounds of George W. Bush’s presidency are still open and raw, especially among conservatives and tea party devotees.”

The Washington Post reported that Romney said last year it would be difficult for Jeb Bush to go up against Hillary Clinton and to separate himself from his brother’s legacy and compare it with the Clinton presidency.

“I like Jeb a lot, I think he’d be a great president, but felt he was unfairly but severely burdened by the W. years — and when I say the W. years, it’s not only what happened to the economy, but the tragedy in Iraq.” Romney reportedly said. “A Bush-versus-Clinton head-to-head would be too easy for the Democrats.”

“I can beat Hillary Clinton,” Bush said, in response. “Mitt Romney is a great guy and I do consider him a friend…I went out to see him [and] want him to know that I was all in and had a plan to win this. I still do.”

“I have a proven record, a conservative record that brought people towards our cause rather than push them away, and Hillary Clinton needs to be taken on because of her failed record,” Bush added. “You can only do that if you have a good one.”

Bush continued by hammering GOP frontrunner Donald Trump for his admitted past support of the Clinton campaigns.

“[Trump] is a buddy of the Clintons,” Bush said. “He’s the only person on the stage who’s given money to Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton’s campaigns and their foundation. I think he’s probably the only guy who’s invited Hillary Clinton to one of his weddings… He’ll get crushed.”

However, in September of 2013 – on the eve of the first anniversary of the terrorist attack on the United States mission in Benghazi that killed four Americans – Jeb Bush awardedHillary Clinton the Liberty Medal from the National Constitution Center – of which Bush was chairman of the board of trustees at the time.

“Former Secretary Clinton has dedicated her life to serving and engaging people across the world in democracy,” Bush said in a statement regarding his presentation. “These efforts as a citizen, an activist, and a leader have earned Secretary Clinton this year’s Liberty Medal.”