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Devils Lake Journal - Devils Lake, ND
  • Philip Maddocks: After Romney victory in Wisconsin, Republicans agree to coalesce behind Ronald Reagan

  • The late Ronald Reagan is on the cusp of taking firm control of the Republican nominating contest for the first time, rallying a broad spectrum of conservatives behind him and neutralizing his most powerful critics who claimed his death would make it impossible for the party icon to claim a third term in the oval office.


     

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  • The late Ronald Reagan is on the cusp of taking firm control of the Republican nominating contest for the first time, rallying a broad spectrum of conservatives behind him and neutralizing his most powerful critics who claimed his death would make it impossible for the party icon to claim a third term in the oval office.
    “If not now, when? And if not Ronald Reagan, then who?” Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin told a packed crowd at a “Mourning in Obama’s America” rally held Thursday in Dixon, Ill., in front of a statue of a young Ronald Reagan on horseback.
    Mr. Ryan said Republicans do not have the luxury of waiting until the party’s convention this summer to join forces behind a nominee and start confronting the sitting president.
    “We have to step up and show the American people that we are willing to not only recycle old ideas but to recycle an old president if that’s what takes to win in November,” he said. “Who would make the best president? Who has the best chance of winning? Ronald Reagan wins on both points.”
    One-time Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, smiling broadly as he took the microphone from Mr. Ryan at the rally in Dixon, seemed unbowed by the logistical hurdles posed by trying to elect a former president who not only was dead but whose name was not on any of the primary ballots.
    “People will say, ‘How can he go on?’” Mr. Santorum said, dismissing the Reagan skeptics. “Some college-educated elites have suggested that it would take an act of God for Ronald Reagan to win the Republican nomination,” he said. “I don’t know about you, but I believe in acts of God.”
    Mr. Reagan’s name and legacy have been mentioned frequently in debates and on the campaign trail during the Republican presidential primary, but it is only this week that the former president suddenly became a full-fledged candidate.
    As party leaders grew increasingly eager to take on President Obama, a coalition of Republican Party heavyweights swiftly jumped at the opportunity to endorse Mr. Reagan, whom they consider a vibrant and exciting alternative to the four living candidates still left in the GOP race.
    The group of big-name Republicans backing the former president include Mr. Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman and a favorite among tea party conservatives, former president George H.W. Bush, and the late William F. Buckley Jr., who this week broke his silence since his death in 2008 to throw his full support behind Mr. Reagan.
    Mitt Romney, who was the frontrunner for the Republican nomination until Mr. Reagan’s hat was thrown in the ring, was gracious during a concession speech following his victories this week in Wisconsin, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.
    Page 2 of 2 - “There has been plenty of opportunity for debates and discussion,” Mr. Romney said while flanked by what he called “the loves of my life,” his wife, Ann, and the remodeling plan for his beach house in La Jolla, Calif. “We need to acknowledge and recognize that nobody is perfect except President Reagan, so there is only one clear choice for this nomination.”
    Republican Party leaders who had remained neutral in the race said Mr. Romney’s victory in Wisconsin convinced them this was the time for Republicans to rally behind Mr. Reagan.
    “I can’t walk 20 yards down the aisle of the grocery store without someone saying, ‘I wish Ronald Reagan were running in this primary.’ Well now he is,’” Mr. Ryan said, adding that he made his endorsement decision because Mr. Reagan — at least as he remembers it — seemed to have a better grasp of the deep fiscal burden facing the country. “It’s time,” he said, “to bring back the Laffer curve and have Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall.”
    Mr. Ryan said that he was not troubled by Mr. Reagan’s deceased status, saying the former president “was never a 9 to 5 guy” and has always been “more of an ideas man, a big-picture thinker” who prefers to leave the details to others.
    “I don’t see his death being any sort of obstacle to carrying out the duties of the office,” he said. “As long as President Reagan has a talented, hardworking staff to take care of the day-to-day stuff, this country should be in as good shape as it was in the ’80s.”
    Philip Maddocks is a political satire columnist for GateHouse News Service. He can be reached at pmaddocks@wickedlocal.com.
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