Telling Texans that he wasn’t partisan, President Barack Obama praised Richard Nixon among those he believed were the Republican presidents who did important work because of the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Obama Finds Praise for Nixon

In this Jan. 1974 file photo shows President Richard Nixon giving his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington. Is “strong” losing its strength? Presidents of both parties have long felt compelled to sum up the state of the union with a descriptive word or two in their State of the Union addresses. Mostly the same word. For many years now, “strong” has been the go-to adjective. Gerald Ford listens at left. (AP Photo, File)

Others were Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower. Obama talked about this during two different speech in Austin, Texas Thursday. He separately mentioned that Ronald Reagan was popular among Republicans.

“I wasn’t raised sharply partisan,” Obama said at a Democratic fundraiser at the home of Hollywood director Robert Rodrguez. “My mom, she had good old-fashioned liberal, progressive values but she wasn’t involved in politics and my favorite president is a Republican named Abraham Lincoln.”

“And so my attitude is that, historically, both parties have done really important work,” Obama said. “You have Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, started the national parks, and Dwight Eisenhower build the Interstate Highway System, and Richard Nixon started the EPA.”

Later that day, he spoke at a public event the Paramount Theatre in Austin, where he again praised the only president to resign from office.

“I want to assure you, I’m really not that partisan of a guy,” he said. “My favorite president is the first Republican president, a guy named Abraham Lincoln. You look at our history and we had great Republican presidents. Teddy Roosevelt started the national park system. Dwight Eisenhower built the interstate highway system. Richard Nixon started the EPA.”

A Quinnipiac University poll this month that found Obama was the worst post-World War II president, Nixon ranked third among the worst. Reagan ranked as the best post-World War II president in the same survey.

Obama later mentioned Reagan only in passing when he talked about immigration reform.

“I don’t expect them to agree with me on everything, but at least agree with me on the things you used to be for before I was for them” Obama said of Republicans. “They used to be for building roads and infrastructure. Nothing has changed. Let’s go ahead and do it. Ronald Reagan passed immigration reform and you love Ronald Reagan, so let’s go ahead and do it.”

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