- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Let us recall the 1980 presidential election, when almost every one of Ronald Reagan’s primary opponents addressed the Republican National Convention in Detroit that year. These prime-time appearances helped produce a unified convention, a unified party and a mighty candidate who went on to score a historic victory that November, says Craig Shirley, a best-selling presidential historian and Reagan biographer.

Things don’t appear quite so convivial 36 years later.

“In 2016, few of Donald Trump’s primary opponents have or will address the Cleveland convention, thus potentially ensuring a divided party,” Mr. Shirley tells Inside the Beltway, adding that the absence of significant elected officials, plus “heavy-handed tactics used by the GOP establishment to quash any opposition to Trump” could prompt a divided convention.

“If we learn anything from history, it is that united conventions tend to win in the fall while divided conventions tend to lose in the fall. For the GOP, they were divided in 1964, 1976, 1992, 2008 and 2012. In each case, the GOP went on to lose in the fall. The Democrats, conversely, were divided in 1968, 1972, and 1980 and went on to lose that fall,” the historian continues.

“To drive home this point, both parties were united in 1960 and 2000, thus producing two of the closest presidential elections in history. Trump’s mission, if possible, has to be to produce a more unified convention than Hillary Clinton does, though now it looks unlikely,” Mr. Shirley concludes.

WHAT REAGAN SAID IN 1980


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“I’m very proud of our party tonight. This convention has shown to all America a party united, with positive programs for solving the nation’s problems, a party ready to build a new consensus with all those across the land who share a community of values embodied in these words: family, work, neighborhood, peace, and freedom,” Ronald Reagan told the crowd during his acceptance speech at the GOP convention that year.

“More than anything else, I want my candidacy to unify our country, to renew the American spirit and sense of purpose. I want to carry our message to every American, regardless of party affiliation, who is a member of this community of shared values.”  Find the 46-minute speech here

WEDNESDAY NIGHT SHOWCASE

Establishing authentic unity in the Republican Party is likely a cumulative process as the convention surges forward. Here’s a few of the big names who will try to do a little unifying on Wednesday evening. Among those who will have their say, beginning at 7 p.m. ET: Radio host Laura Ingraham, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas, Eric Trump, Newt and Callista Gingrich, and as the big finale, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, the vice presidential nominee.

CONSCIENTIOUS BEACH READS

Always helpful: A targeted list of summertime books for mix politics and vacation. From Regnery Publishing comes this list of new titles: “Well Versed: Biblical Answers to Today’s Tough Question” by James L. Garlow; “The Complete Infidel’s Guide to Iran” by Robert Spencer; “Hillary’s America” by Dinesh D’Souza; “The Problem with Socialism” by Thomas J. D’Lorenzo; “See No Evil: 11 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle” by Joel Pollak; and finally, “Drinking with Republicans: The Politically Incorrect History of Conservative Concoctions” by Mark Will-Weber.

The books are available, or soon will be. Consult Regnery.com

KASICH’S PUSHBACK CONTINUES

Wait, didn’t he drop out of the 2016 presidential race? Messages to the national press corps continue to arrive from “Team Kasich” advising journalists that Ohio Gov. John Kasich has a packed schedule in and around Cleveland through Wednesday.

“Governor Kasich will be attending a series of public and private events to support down-ballot Republicans, talk about creating a stronger economy and national defense, thank his supporters and visit with state delegations from across the country,” his press dispatch advises, adding, “The governor will NOT be available for interviews.”

CONVENTION PARTY OF NOTE

A cheerful event with a noble calling: That would be the “Celebrating Life & Values Luncheon at the Republican National Convention” on Wednesday; the guests include Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins. The two organizations worked in coalition with delegates last week to ensure the GOP platform remained “a solidly pro-life document,” a spokesman says.

And what a lunch. It will be staged at the Hyde Park Steakhouse in downtown Cleveland, where there is a 22-ounce ribeye on the menu, even at lunch. Oh, and let’s not forget the garlic mashed potatoes and wedge salad with the blue cheese dressing, crumbled bacon — and in this eatery, candied pecans and a drizzle of port wine.

POLL DU JOUR

75 percent of Americans say they “have never started their own business”; 65 percent of Hispanics, 80 percent of blacks and 73 percent of whites agree.

50 percent of Americans overall want to run their own business; 74 percent of Hispanics, 64 percent of blacks and 42 percent of whites agree.

39 percent overall would not; 15 percent of Hispanics, 29 percent of blacks and 45 percent of whites agree.

13 percent started a part-time business; 23 percent of Hispanics, 11 percent of blacks and 13 percent of whites agree.

12 percent started a full-time business; 12 percent of Hispanics, 9 percent of blacks and 14 percent of whites agree.

Source: A YouGov poll of 998 U.S. adults conducted July 6 to 8.

Giddy chatter, nervous complaints to jharperwashingtontimes.com.

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