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Is Mitt Romney the Next Gipper?

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Immediately following Mitt Romney's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, the son of America's most iconic -- and for many, most beloved -- president tweeted that since the passing of his father, America hasn't had a true "cheerleader" until now.

 

 

To wit, one thing Reagan was perhaps best known for, was his ability to bring people together by finding the common thread that bound them. The Gipper, as he was affectionately dubbed, appealed to Americans' sense of optimism, rather than exploit their basest fears and negativity. Strategists often recall that he focused on strength not weakness, and boosted the nation's confidence, rather than prey upon its insecurities. He reminded the country why America was the greatest nation on earth, rather than denigrate it in the public square for its shortcomings.

It was Reagan's penchant for diplomacy, honing in on that with which those on both sides of the aisle could agree, that made him so effective. To this end, he rarely touched on tense social issues like abortion, ceding that the GOP was a "big tent party" comprising people of all walks and beliefs. He knew that no president -- no leader anywhere in the world -- would ever get everyone to see eye-to-eye on such issues, and so instead chose to focus on the economy and the Cold War as the unifying issues of his time.

Oddly, it is said that Obama, too, has studied the great communicator with a view toward emulating his style and modus operandi. Yet with his divisive class and race warfare rhetoric, and consistent focus on America's failings, the current president seems to be channel exactly the opposite of what Reagan embodied.

But is Mitt Romney really invoking Reagan's finer points?

An examination of his current campaign theme coupled with Thursday evening's speech at the Republican National Convention seems to indicate that he just might be.

A Washington Times column points out that the former Massachusetts governor plans to mirror Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign by posing voters with the burning question: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”

“That question can’t be answered in the affirmative by many voters,” senior Romney adviser Kevin Madden told the Times on Thursday.

This concept is underscored by Romney's own words at the convention, when he noted that regardless of blame, or promises, or anything else Obama could attempt to sell voters this election, one thing he cannot do is tell Americans that they are better off now than they were when he was first elected.

“This president can ask us to be patient. This president can tell us it was someone else’s fault. This president can tell us that the next four years he’ll get it right. But this president cannot tell us that YOU are better off today than when he took office,” the Republican nominee said during his speech.

Adding another Reaganesque layer to the Romney platform, The Washington Post also dissected the following moments from Romney's RNC speech and compared it to those of the conservative icon. The Times cites:

On American exceptionalism: Romney — “I refuse to believe America is just another place on the flag”; Reagan — “I don’t agree that our nation must resign itself to inevitable decline, yielding its proud position to other hands.”

On states’ rights: Romney — “This president’s answer to every problem is to take power from you”; Reagan — “The federal government has taken on functions it was never intended to perform and which it does not perform well.”

On the economy: Romney — “With the economy in crisis, [Obama’s] answer is to borrow money we can’t afford and throw it at Washington bureaucrats and politicians”; Reagan — “The people have not created this disaster in our economy; the federal government has. It has overspent, overestimated, and over-regulated.”

On the future: Romney — “The principles that made us a great nation and leader of the world have not lost their meaning...I believe in America”; Reagan — “I believe that you and I together can keep this rendezvous with destiny.”

The fact that Romney seems to be channeling Reagan in both his speech and overall campaign platform also makes sense when considering that Obama has been compared to Jimmy Carter perhaps more than any other president.

In fact, during his speech Thursday evening at the Republican National Convention, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich compared the two presidents, saying that Obama and Carter both "took our nation down a path that in four years weakened America's confidence in itself."

Is Obama the Jimmy Carter of our time and is Mitt Romney our next Gipper? Perhaps by morning in America, the country will know.

 

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