Republicans need to stop looking back at Ronald Reagan and instead seek out a new leader who can build foward-moving coalitions and be a “cheerleader for America” if they want to win back the White House, says Michael Reagan, the late president's son.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Reagan didn't hesitate when asked what role he would like for his father's legacy to play in the upcoming election.
“I think it is wrong for us to look for Ronald Reagan,” he said. “We were lucky to have him during our lifetimes. But if there is a role, look at who he truly was. … And you know, he was a man who cared about this country. He was a man who loved this country. It was always 'morning in America' for him. I want to find somebody who starts putting out positive messages about America like Ronald Reagan did. Somebody who is a cheerleader for America. Remember him for who he was. Don't try to redefine him in your image and likeness, define him in what and who he was.
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“Remember, he was a man who changed the world and he changed it by building coalitions. Pope John Paul ... Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev, Tip O'Neill. To do these things he had to find areas of agreement and move forward. And you also have to remember, you always don't get everything you want right off the bat. You have to work towards an end. Look at politics as a football field. You have to go a 100 yards to score a touchdown. Ten yards at a time is OK as long as you score. I'm getting tired of hearing people throwing touchdown passes and when nobody catches it, they go home.
“If we don't hang together in the next election, we won't take back the Senate nor the White House. And we'll have four more years of our rights being taken away by this administration. We need to find areas where we work together, not apart.”
Reagan, who spoke at the National Rifle Association’s annual conference in Pittsburgh recently, had harsh words for the hopefuls who are looking to win the nomination to face off against President Barack Obama in next year’s election.
In a brutally frank assessment of the potential Republican candidates, he picked them apart one by one, saying he did not believe either former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee or former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin would run. Of the others, he said former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney needs to “talk to people who are at the water cooler, not the person who owns the water cooler,” and former Sen. Rick Santorum needs more than just the pro-life issue to win the presidency.
He said both Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and businessman Herman Cain have to reach out beyond their tea party base if they are to be serious candidates.
“It’s like if I’m only doing Fox [News] and I’m a candidate and everybody who watched me on Fox votes for me. I’m only going to lose by 57 million votes.” He said Bachmann could be a viable vice presidential candidate if she expanded her horizons, but was not ready for the presidency.
Reagan, the oldest of Ronald Reagan’s three surviving children, described former House Speaker Newt Gingrich as having “more baggage than bags,” adding: “That’s a problem for Newt.”
He praised Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels for showing leadership by defunding Planned Parenthood in Indiana, but says he “has to learn to command a room a little bit better,” while former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has “the least baggage of anybody,” but “needs a little shot of charisma.”
“Every one of them has work they could do and things they need to learn,” said Reagan. “First they need to learn to listen and move forward from there.
“If you could take some of these candidates to show the passion of Michelle Bachmann it would upgrade and uplift the males in the race,” he added.
“When my father passed away in 2004, we didn’t lose a former president; I didn’t lose a father; the world lost a cheerleader. Let’s find a cheerleader.”
But Reagan still believes the GOP can win in 2012. “We have a great board of directors,” he said. “But we need to find the chairman of the board. If we find the chairman of the board we’ll win.”
Despite his criticism of the potential candidates, Reagan’s harshest words were for Obama. “Jimmy Carter’s the only one happy with the Obama administration,” he said. “It means he will not go down as the worst president this country’s ever had.
Reagan, who has written a new book, “The New Reagan Revolution,” said most politicians need to take a leaf out of his father’s playbook and listen more. “We have a president now who really doesn’t listen to anybody. He listens to himself and he needs a lot of help and the help he’s put around him has no concept of what to do.
“Look at the world that we live in today. You look at the dollar against the euro, you look what’s going on in the Middle East, there’s no leadership. You can’t say America needs to take a second position to anybody and put somebody else in charge.
“My God, France is in charge of what’s going on in the Middle East? Give me a break. You need to have America strong. Right now America is not strong because the leadership is not strong.”
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