Michael Reagan: GOP turns sure victory into defeat
Wait until next year — 2016, that is.
That’s what disappointed Republican spinners kept saying Tuesday night as they watched Mitt Romney’s hopes crash and burn in swing state after swing state.
How many times did I hear a Republican talk about how their party’s deep bench of future all-stars will return it to power in Washington in four years?
But all the Ryans, Rubios, Bushes, Haleys and Christies in America can’t put the GOP — or the country — back together again.
The GOP is a wreck — and not just in California, where the party’s registration is now below 30 percent.
Look how easily the Republican Party managed to turn what should have been a sure victory over an incompetent and dangerous incumbent into an embarrassing defeat.
First they tore each other to shreds in a bitter primary, smearing their eventual nominee in debates as a rich, uncaring profiteer who put working people out on the street and shipped their jobs overseas.
Then, while Obama’s ads in the battleground states reinforced the Republican-made caricature of Mitt, the Romney campaign did just about everything wrong.
It squandered the GOP convention and tried to make their candidate into “Mitt the Moderate.” Team Romney also shunned their natural allies in talk radio and didn’t reach out for help from conservatives like me.
I would have been glad to help the Romney campaign in Ohio or Pennsylvania, where I worked for my father in 1980. I offered, but the phone never rang. It didn’t ring for Bill O’Reilly or for the other major radio and TV talk shows, either.
But Team Romney’s biggest mistake was playing prevent defense after his big victory in the first debate. It was a terrible, fatal blunder.
Instead of hammering away at the horror of Obamacare, the cover-up in Benghazi and President Eye-Candy’s four years of failure, Romney ran the last five weeks hoping the clock would run out before Obama could recover.
But you don’t play prevent defense when you are running in second place in Ohio, Virginia, Florida — and Tuesday’s results proved it.
Hurricane Sandy struck Mitt a final blow, giving Obama the chance to look presidential and making Mitt disappear from the media for four days.
But give credit to Obama’s Chicago Gang. They ran a much better campaign — on the ground and in the air. They got out the vote and Obama got out his message of class envy and federal entitlements for all, without any trouble from his toadies in the media.
Now bigger deficits, higher taxes and a stagnant economy lie ahead for as far as the eye can see. And socialized medicine — which my father warned was coming to America 50 years ago — is going to soon become a reality via Obamacare.
Team Romney blew an easy win because it had a poor game plan. But it also lost because the Republican Party is all talk and no guts when it comes to fighting for real conservatism — Ronald Reagan conservatism.
GOP bigwigs constantly praise my father. For years they’ve used him to suck true conservatives into the party, but they’ve never really embraced Reaganism or its ideals.
They didn’t in the 1980s and they still don’t today. They only talk about him. The party bosses don’t really think like him.
Most of those Republican candidates who lost Tuesday played the same game of pretend. “I’m like Ronald Reagan!” “No, I’m like Ronald Reagan!”
But most of them aren’t like my father. They weren’t waving the “bold colors” of real conservatism he talked about in 1975. The banners of the losers — like Mitt’s — were colored in “pale pastels.”
The GOP needs a new playbook. Unless it starts embracing my father’s conservative ideals instead of just paying lip service to them, the so-called “Party of Ronald Reagan” may never win another national election.
Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Email comments to Reagan@caglecartoons.com.