Two well-known conservative pundits weighed in immediately after the GOP debate to declare Texas Rep. Ron Paul the clear loser due to his response to a question about Ronald Reagan.
Wednesday’s forum momentarily turned into an old-fashioned Texas shootout when Paul and Texas Gov. Rick Perry began wrangling over who better represents the conservative tradition of revered former President Ronald Reagan.
Ironically, their exchange occurred in the presidential library of the conservative icon whose 11th Commandment was “Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican.”
Paul began the exchange by stating: “You know, the governor of Texas [Perry] criticized the governor of Massachusetts [Romney] for RomneyCare. But he wrote a really fancy letter supporting HillaryCare. So we probably ought to ask him about that.”
Perry replied that he was agricultural commissioner of Texas at the time, and was hoping that the healthcare reforms proposed during the Clinton administration would help take care of Texas farmers.
“We had no idea it was going to be the monstrosity that’s known as Hillary Care,” Perry said.
Perry then pointed out that Paul had written a letter in 1987 stating he would quit the Republican Party due to Reagan’s policies. Paul replied by praising Reagan’s message, while also appearing to double-down on his criticisms.
“I strongly supported Ronald Reagan,” Paul insisted. “I was one of four members of Congress who supported Reagan in ’76, and I supported him all along. And I supported all his issues and all his programs.
“But, in the 1980s, we spent too much, we taxed too much, we built up our deficits, and it was a bad scene. Therefore I support the message of Ronald Reagan. The message was great,” Paul said. “But the consequence -- we have to be honest with ourselves -- it was not all that great: Huge deficits during the 1980s. And that is what my criticism was for, not for Ronald Reagan’s message. His message is a great message.”
Pundits warn criticizing Reagan at his presidential library could seriously strain Paul’s credibility with the GOP faithful who continue to admire “the Gipper.”
“He always does well with libertarians, we know that,”
InsiderAdvantage CEO Matt Towery tells Newsmax. “But you can’t go into Ronald Reagan’s house and put down Ronald Reagan. I like a lot of what he says, but you can’t get away with that.”
Former Bush senior staff member Bradley A. Blakeman said Paul was the big loser in Wednesday debate “because he’s just so out of it.”
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