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Posts published in “2024 Republican Primary”

Let Trump Be Trump


Very long ago and far away, Ronald Reagan was governor of California

The first decidedly conservative California governor elected in the day (1966) — not to mention the first seriously conservative Republican — he was seen by some of his supporters as opposed or besieged by moderate or Establishment Republicans, both when he was running for the GOP nomination and then, once elected, inside his administration or outside in the media. (READ MORE from Jeffrey Lord: Yes, Trump Can Win Again)

Indeed, while still considering a 1966 run in July of 1965, Reagan told the New York Times that his Establishment Republican opponents were “trying to paint me into a corner and suggest I’m a kind of right-wing kook.”

Thus it was, according to Reagan biographer Steven F. Hayward in the second volume of his detailed Reagan biography The Age of Reagan: The Conservative Counterrevolution: 1980–1989, that Reagan’s close confidant William Clark (the governor’s executive secretary) originated the rallying cry “Let Reagan Be Reagan.” The slogan resurfaced when Reagan became president, and the GOP moderates and Establishment types in the administration were seen as either holding Reagan back from his conservative instincts or effectively working against him behind the scenes.

This comes to mind as this, that, or the other Never Trumper is out there trying to convince Republicans that it is just too politically dangerous to “Let Trump Be Trump.”

Over there in the Wall Street Journal, my former Reagan staff colleague and now WSJ columnist Peggy Noonan has opined that if Trump were nominated again in 2024, it “would mark the end of the GOP.” She writes:

If Trump Republicans propel Donald Trump over the top in the primaries, they will be doing and will have done two things. They will have made him their nominee for the presidency, and they will have ended the Republican Party.

I don’t mean this rhetorically, in the way of people walking around the past eight years crying, “The party as I knew it is gone.” I mean it literally: The GOP will disappear as a party. Meaning the primary national vehicle of conservative thought and policy will disappear.

New Hampshire “Republican” Gov. Chris Sununu — tellingly — ran to the left-wing Washington Post to headline:

I’m not running for president in 2024. Beating Trump is more important. 

In the same vein as Noonan, the governor says, “Our party is on a collision course toward electoral irrelevance without significant corrective action.” 


In fact, both Noonan and Sununu are, apparently unknowingly, echoing exactly what Establishment Republicans of the day — not to mention the media — thought of … Ronald Reagan. Examples? I noted them here (in 2015!!) in a column titled “Yes, Trump Can Win.” Samples, with bold print for emphasis supplied:

  • Illinois Republican Senator Charles Percy said Reagan’s candidacy was “foolhardy” and warned ominously it would lead to a “crushing defeat” for the Republican Party. “It could signal the beginning of the end of our party as an effective force in American political life.”
  • New York’s Republican Senator Jacob Javits: Reagan’s positions are “so extreme that they would alter our country’s very economic and social structure and our place in the world to such a degree as to make our country’s place at home and abroad, as we know it, a thing of the past.” 
  • Vice President Nelson Rockefeller dismissed Reagan as “a minority of a minority” who “has been taking some extreme positions.”
  •  Former President Gerald Ford: “I hear more and more often that we don’t want, can’t afford to have a replay of 1964.” If the Republican Party nominates Ronald Reagan “it would be an impossible situation” because Reagan “is perceived as a most conservative Republican. A very conservative Republican can’t win in a national election.” Asked if that meant Ford thought Reagan can’t win, Ford replied to the New York Times: “That’s right.” The Times story went on to observe that Ford thought “Mr. Reagan would be a sure-loser in November” and that Reagan held “extreme and too-simple views.” 

Then there was the media of the day saying things like this, bold print for emphasis supplied:

  • Chicago Daily News: “The trouble with Reagan, of course, is that his positions on the major issues are cunningly phrased nonsense — irrationality conceived and hair-raising in their potential mischief… Here comes Barry Goldwater again, only more so, and at this stage another such debacle could sink the GOP so deep it might never recover.” 
  • Time: “Republicans now must decide whether he represents a conservative wave of the future or is just another Barry Goldwater calling on the party to mount a hopeless crusade against the twentieth century.”

On and on — and on and on — went this kind of criticism of Reagan, repeatedly predicting a massive defeat for both Reagan and his Republican Party, dragging the party not just down the drain and but to extinction.

It was, of course, all so much bunk. Reagan was twice elected governor in landslides, and his presidential victories were 44 and 49 state landslides in 1980 and 1984.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Establishment favorites of Mitt Romney in 2012 and John McCain in 2008 got clobbered. And in Chris Sununu’s own family, his dad, John Sununu, lost, according to his Wikipedia entry, four different elections in his career. Two losses for state senator, one for the Executive Council of New Hampshire and one for the U.S. Senate. With four losses behind him, John Sununu went on to finally win election as governor. Patience and persistence, as former Republican President Calvin Coolidge once said, is important.

In fact, just as Reagan’s greatest asset in his 1980 victory was incumbent President Jimmy Carter, so too will Trump’s greatest asset in 2024 be President Joe Biden. Biden’s policies are wreaking havoc on the country in both foreign and domestic policy. Not to mention that combined with his literal, repeated episodes of literally falling flat on his face, America’s enemies across the globe have taken note of his weakness, beginning with the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, resulting in the invasion of Ukraine and, now, threats of nuclear war from Vladimir Putin. All of this combined with Chinese taunting aggression by both sea and air as Chinese ships and planes play games with American ships and planes. And don’t forget the cross-country Chinese weather balloon. (RELATED: Five Quick Things: Biden Falling Down, Again and Again)

In short, Trump should never — and doubtless will never — be deterred by all of this Never-Trump nonsense. 

Just as Reagan sailed on to “Let Reagan Be Reagan,” so too is Trump best advised to “Let Trump Be Trump.”

Not to mention, as with Reagan, Trump can do nothing better than simply be himself.

Which is to say, go about Making America Great Again.

The post Let Trump Be Trump appeared first on The American Spectator | USA News and Politics.

As reported by The American Spectator | USA News and Politics