Best-selling author and television commentator Michael Reagan tells Newsmax TV that President Barack Obama is politicizing the death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin to push his anti-gun agenda after failing to do so in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre.
"It seems that's part of the agenda of the president of the United States, is pushing the gun agenda," said Reagan, the son of former President Ronald Reagan, in an exclusive interview on Monday. "It didn't work before with what happened there on the East Coast, and now he's trying to push that agenda again in one way or the other."
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In a wide-ranging interview, Reagan, who heads the Reagan Legacy Foundation, also told Newsmax that the shooting death of Martin, 17, and the subsequent trial of former neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, 29, was a "tragedy" turned into a race "issue that just did not exist."
Editor’s Note: Should Obama Use Zimmerman Verdict to Ban Guns?
He said the case has no winners, even though Zimmerman was found not guilty of second-degree murder by an all-woman Florida jury earlier this month.
"There's people out there in the world we live in — the Jesse Jacksons, the Al Sharptons or what have you — that see race behind every single corner in America," he asserted.
With respect to Obamacare, Reagan said he is hopeful that the Hobby Lobby case will set a legal precedent so that all employers with a moral or religious objection to providing insurance coverage for the morning-after pill and similar emergency birth-control methods will be exempted.
On Friday, Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts chain, was given a temporary exemption from a requirement under Obamacare to offer healthcare coverage for the morning-after pill.
"One of the things wrong in America today is too many of us sit back and wait for someone else to take the lead.
"Our conservative side, if you will, fights battles like we're playing golf on the golf course, and the other side — the left — plays politics like they're playing hockey. We need to get in the hockey game and get out of the golf game if we're going to win the day," Reagan said.
In a recent Newsmax column, Reagan penned that there’s panic at the White House over Obamacare and the administration is suffering "legislative remorse."
He doesn’t understand why Republicans would want to pass legislation to put Obamacare off until 2015.
"If I'm them, put it in place, live by the law, and let those kids, when they wake up on the morning of January 2014, understand how bad Obamacare is so when they vote in 2014, this time they vote correctly," he explained.
Reagan said that Liz Cheney’s decision to challenge incumbent Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi for one of the state’s two seats in the upper chamber should not be looked at as a negative for the GOP, which would like to take back the Senate in 2014.
"It makes you a better candidate. I mean it really does, for an incumbent to be ... challenged," he observed, adding that the Cheney family is very well known in the state since Liz Cheney's father is former Vice President Dick Cheney. "It's very important that ... whoever wins the primary is supported by the loser in the general election."
While the GOP acknowledges that it must become more inclusive to remain a viable political party, Reagan said that reality has not yet caught up with the rhetoric.
"There's parts of the GOP who are trying to become more inclusive. But go to a GOP meeting and see if it is in fact more inclusive," Reagan said. "In many cases, it's not more inclusive. I'm getting a little tired of listening to the pundits on the Republican side tell me, ‘Well, the blacks are never going to be with us so why talk to them? The Hispanics are going to vote for Democrats, why support them or even go talk to them?' If you're not talking to them, no, they're not going to support you."
Reagan said the party should make better use of people like New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, who found a way to win on the GOP ticket.
"Where were these people on the campaign trail of 2012? Why aren’t we going to Susana and saying, 'How did you win? How did a Republican win in a Democrat state?’ What she's going to tell is — as Ronald Reagan did, as Susana Martinez did — they didn't go out and run as Republicans so much as they ran on shared values."
He believes that such a strategy could increase the number of crossover votes for the GOP.
"Republicans need to understand — and these pundits need to understand — the Republican Party has always been the minority party," Reagan explained. "In order to win, you have to get people from the other side of the aisle to come in and vote for you on Election Day. And if you don't have a message that's inclusive, that's just not going to happen, as the proof has been the last couple of elections."
While GOP New York congressman Peter King has said in recent days that he may run for president in 2016 to save the party, Reagan is not overly optimistic for his chances.
"He has saved the party in New York. That's where he should stay," said Reagan. "They need to have a governor who's an executive, who's been there. That is when we do better. When we elected governors to the presidency, we have a better shot at doing what we need to do in Washington, D.C."
Reagan said that he is not particularly worried about finding a GOP candidate who can beat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016 if she seeks the Democratic Party presidential nomination.
"Anybody could beat Hillary Clinton at this point if you have a message and a messenger," he said. "Right now, the Republican Party lacks both. They lack a message. They lack a messenger. And when you lack a message and a messenger, then that person — even though the message may be the wrong message — ends up winning the day like Barack Obama just won the last presidential election.
"Why? Because Mitt Romney didn't really have a message and he was not a very good messenger," he said.
Asked whether President Reagan would have thought the National Security Agency had gone too far in gathering information on Americans, Reagan said he doubts that there would have been a scandal at all had his father been in the White House.
Editor’s Note: Should Obama Use Zimmerman Verdict to Ban Guns?
"You've got to look at it in that way," he said of the 40th president. "He wasn't into growing government. He was into making government, in fact, smaller, not larger."
Reagan noted that despite the many scandals facing the Obama administration in recent months, Republicans have been unable to capitalize on them.
"Barack Obama has so many issues going on in the White House, but again, when you lack a true message as a party and the party's split in a thousand different directions — we have a civil war going on within the Republican Party — then ... all the things going on in the Barack Obama administration don't grab anybody because people, right now, don’t have an alternative.
"There is no alternative, right now, on the planet to Barack Obama."
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