CNN: Reagan Closer To Hillary Clinton On Some Issues, GOPers ‘Would Hate That Guy’

Posted on Sun 01/17/2016 by

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By Brad Wilmouth ~

On Friday’s Erin Burnett OutFront on CNN, during a segment devoted to discrediting President Ronald Reagan’s conservative credentials and painting modern Republicans as far right, host Erin Burnett proclaimed that Republicans “would hate that guy,” and joined with CNN presidential historian Douglas Brinkley in suggesting that Democrat Hillary Clinton’s views on some issues are closer to Reagan’s.

Introducing a report by CNN’s Tom Foreman, Burnett (pictured) began:

Erin Burnett OutFront - 07_40_35 PMTonight, the shadow of Ronald Reagan looming large over the Republican race for President. The 2016 hopefuls, they just, you know, I’ve been noticing this, they never miss an opportunity to praise the nation’s 40th President, to say that they would be like him. But is the Ronald Reagan that they think they know the real Ronald Reagan? Tom Foreman is out front.

After recalling that Reagan’s name has been mentioned many times recently by Republican presidential candidates, Foreman tried to undermine Reagan’s popularity by recounting, without showing a source, the average approval ratings for President Reagan as being lower than for Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Foreman: “Reagan did not have the highest approval rating for his time in office. Indeed, the next two Presidents — George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton — each ranked higher.”

Not mentioned was the Republican President’s landslide 1984 reelection in which he almost carried all 50 states with nearly 58 percent of the national popular vote.

Without noting that Reagan generally cut tax rates while the tax increases that occurred mostly amounted to the closing of loopholes making for a relatively flatter tax, the CNN correspondent challenged Reagan’s tax-cutting credentials, and suggested political similarity to modern Democrats. Foreman:

And Reagan’s record is complicated. He was a critic of government who made it bigger, a foe of taxes who raised them, a conservative capitalist who busted the air traffic controllers union but, at other times, defended labor rights. So sometimes even Democrats invoke his name to justify their plans.

Foreman further distanced modern Republicans from Reagan as he concluded: “So the thing is, these candidates are not really trying to recapture the policies of Ronald Reagan. What they want is the enthusiasm and the unity that he brought to their party because they’re convinced, Erin, that if they get that they might win one more for the Gipper.”

Host Burnett then brought aboard Brinkley and made her declaration that Republicans would “hate” a modern political figure like Reagan. Burnett:

You know, it’s amazing here, in one debate, 30 times, and I was watching last night, and I kept hearing it, and I kept hearing it. And, you know, yes, Ronald Reagan famous, right, the shining city on a hill, right, the aspirational, inspirational vision of America that he put forth. Yet he tripled the national debt. Yet he grew government. Yet he raised taxes. These guys would hate that guy.

Brinkley began by voicing agreement:

Well, there are two Ronald Reagans. There’s St. Reagan that the Republicans love, and then there’s the historic Ronald Reagan where you could really look at his record. The bottom line is, I think that Republicans like the strength of Reagan and the cause and effect. When Reagan went in 1987 to Berlin and said, “Tear down the wall,” and then the Berlin Wall came down in ’89 a little bit later. And then he called the Russians the “evil empire,” and then the Soviet Union broke down. So it’s sort of the martial language of Reagan they like, but the real point is, he won two presidential elections.

After both noted that the former Republican President could win elections if he were running today, Burnett added: “Which is amazing because, as you and I were talking just before Tom’s piece ran, you were noting that Ronald Reagan would be more liberal than Jeb Bush, who is, you know, basically getting kicked out of the party because people like Donald Trump say that he’s just a weak liberal.”

The two then went even further over the top as they likened Reagan to Democrat Hillary Clinton on some issues:

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY: That’s right because he, it used to be in the ’80s people thought Ronald Reagan represented the right wing or the conservative wing of the party. No. It’s kept getting more right and more right and more right. So today Reagan would be kind of a centrist Republican. He’d be more like Jeb Bush, maybe even more liberal than Jeb Bush on some issues.

ERIN BURNETT: More like Hillary Clinton, dare I say?

BRINKLEY: More, a little bit more like Hillary Clinton on issues like immigration, for example. So, you know, it’s understandable, though, that, as Reagan mania is going on, he’s the patron saint of the conservative movement.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Friday, January 15, Erin Burnett OutFront on CNN:

7:40 p.m. ET
ERIN BURNETT: Tonight, the shadow of Ronald Reagan looming large over the Republican race for President. The 2016 hopefuls, they just, you know, I’ve been noticing this, they never miss an opportunity to praise the nation’s 40th President, to say that they would be like him. But is the Ronald Reagan that they think they know the real Ronald Reagan? Tom Foreman is out front.

(…)

TOM FOREMAN: …Reagan did not have the highest approval rating for his time in office. Indeed, the next two Presidents — George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton — each ranked higher. … And Reagan’s record is complicated. He was a critic of government who made it bigger, a foe of taxes who raised them, a conservative capitalist who busted the air traffic controllers union but, at other times, defended labor rights. So sometimes even Democrats invoke his name to justify their plans.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: That wild-eyed socialist, tax-hiking, class warrior was Ronald Reagan.

MITCH MCCONNELL, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: What people remember about Ronald Reagan was not that he was a solid conservative, but that he was cheerful, optimistic, and upbeat about the future of America.

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience.

FOREMAN: And what Republicans remember is that Reagan knew how to take on the Democrats and win. The Reagan record is complicated enough when you really look at all the details of it. For example, on the national debt, Democrats will always say we tripled the debt, and Republicans will say, “Well, but you’re not looking at the whole picture of the economy.” So the thing is, these candidates are not really trying to recapture the policies of Ronald Reagan. What they want is the enthusiasm and the unity that he brought to their party because they’re convinced, Erin, that if they get that they might win one more for the Gipper.

(…)

BURNETT: You know, it’s amazing here, in one debate, 30 times, and I was watching last night, and I kept hearing it, and I kept hearing it. And, you know, yes, Ronald Reagan famous, right, the shining city on a hill, right, the aspirational, inspirational vision of America that he put forth. Yet he tripled the national debt. Yet he grew government. Yet he raised taxes. These guys would hate that guy.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, there are two Ronald Reagans. There’s St. Reagan that the Republicans love, and then there’s the historic Ronald Reagan where you could really look at his record. The bottom line is, I think that Republicans like the strength of Reagan and the cause and effect. When Reagan went in 1987 to Berlin and said, “Tear down the wall,” and then the Berlin Wall came down in ’89 a little bit later. And then he called the Russians the “evil empire,” and then the Soviet Union broke down. So it’s sort of the martial language of Reagan they like, but the real point is, he won two presidential elections.

BURNETT: He could win.

BRINKLEY: He could win. And he’d probably win today if you just put his name on a ballot in primaries and caucuses.

BURNETT: Which is amazing because, as you and I were talking just before Tom’s piece ran, you were noting that Ronald Reagan would be more liberal than Jeb Bush, who is, you know, basically getting kicked out of the party because people like Donald Trump say that he’s just a weak liberal.

BRINKLEY: That’s right because he, it used to be in the ’80s people thought Ronald Reagan represented the right wing or the conservative wing of the party. No. It’s kept getting more right and more right and more right. So today Reagan would be kind of a centrist Republican. He’d be more like Jeb Bush, maybe even more liberal than Jeb Bush on some issues.

BURNETT: More like Hillary Clinton, dare I say?

BRINKLEY: More, a little bit more like Hillary Clinton on issues like immigration, for example. So, you know, it’s understandable, though, that, as Reagan mania is going on, he’s the patron saint of the conservative movement.

BURNETT: I like that: the patron saint. And 30 mentions in one debate. Just worthy to look at what the real record was.

Brad Wilmouth contributes posts to the NewsBusters site and he was a former news analyst for the Media Research Center.

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