Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was joined by President Ronald Reagan’s son Michael on Monday morning in Jacksonville, Florida. Michael Reagan is supporting Mr. Gingrich for the presidency and helping Mr. Gingrich fend off critics who say that the former speaker did not have a politically close relationship with his father.
“One of the reasons I was glad Michael agreed to come on is that there’s been a question raised by the establishment as to whether or not I was really in any way active with Ronald Reagan,” said Gingrich to a group of supporters in meeting room at the Jacksonville Hyatt Regency. “And I figured if his son was prepared to campaign with me, for any person with an open mind that should settle that issue once and for all.”
Mr. Reagan explained to the audience why he endorsed Speaker Gingrich saying, “I think I owe it to him, because of what he has done for the Republican Party over the years,” he said. “I remember way back in the 1980’s during the Reagan revolution and I also remember there was a 1990’s, when he delivered to us the first Republican majority in over 40 years no one else who has ran for office has done that.”
Conservative movement activists, writers, and leaders, some of who had worked with President Reagan, have written scathing articles in various publications or appeared on television have denounced Mr. Gingrich’s political favorability with President Reagan, including Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, and Elliott Abrams.
“It doesn’t concern me, but yeah, it does. The way they’re attacking Newt Gingrich and cherry picking to be able to attack him, I worry if those people would have supported Ronald Reagan today,” Michael Reagan told me. “Would Ronald Reagan be a Reagan conservative in their eyes today? And my issue with that is, he may not be…(to them). And that’s a concern to me in this election.”
Mr. Reagan believes some of his father’s actions as governor of California would gain the scorn of conservatives today.
“My father wasn’t a purist either. My father did raise taxes as governor of California. He did sign an abortion bill. He did sign no-fault divorce,” he said. “Those things are an anathema to conservatives. He did those as governor of California. Would they nominate Ronald Reagan today?”
Mr. Reagan will be campaigning with Speaker Gingrich throughout Florida on Monday.