5 GOP pres. candidates praise Reagan, berate Obama
November 5th, 2011
12:24 AM ET
3 years ago

5 GOP pres. candidates praise Reagan, berate Obama

Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) - On Friday evening in Iowa, five Republican presidential candidates spoke to a gathering of Republicans and followed a similar tack: speak well of Ronald Reagan and speak ill of President Barack Obama's leadership and policies.

The occasion: the Iowa Republican Party's Ronald Reagan Dinner in Des Moines, the group's largest annual fundraiser. Attendees paid between $75 for general seating and up to $1,500 for a VIP table of 10.

"Sixty days from right now we start the process of choosing Barack Obama's Republican successor and it starts here in Iowa," state GOP Chairman Matt Strawn said in his opening remarks, bringing the crowd to its feet.

Iowa's first-in-the-nation presidential caucus is on January 3.

Following Strawn was GOP Sen. Rand Paul, who addressed the crowd by video message.

"America will thrive again when we have a leader who embraces and extols the greatness of our founding documents, the greatness of capitalism and the unlimited potential of freedom," the Kentucky senator said. "I think that leader is my father. And I hope you will give him your consideration."

With that, the father took to the stage. Texas Rep. Ron Paul opened his speech with high praise of the nation's 40th president.

"Of all the presidents that I have met over the many decades, President Reagan was the one I knew the best and visited with the most and had the most in common," Paul said.

Conservatives have previously criticized Paul for his past comments about Reagan. In 1987, Paul disassociated himself from the GOP out of frustration with Reagan administration policies. Texas Gov. Rick Perry needled Paul on that issue during a GOP debate at the Reagan Library on Sept. 7.

"I strongly supported Ronald Reagan," Paul said in response to Perry at the debate.

"I supported him all along ... But in the 1980's we spent too much, we taxed too much, we built up our deficits. And it was a bad scene."

At the dinner, Perry followed Paul. Among other comments, the Texas governor reiterated some action items he'd take as president: imposing a pay freeze for Congress and federal employees – "outside of the military and the public safety areas" - until the budget was balanced; taking a "wrecking ball" to runaway government spending and regulation; and grasping bold reforms.

"I happen to believe there's a clear choice in this race: between the status quo tinkerers who represent the establishment. My approach is to break up the Washington establishment with fundamental reform of the tax code," Perry said.

The governor also elicited a laugh with a reference to the Occupy Wall Street movement.

"You might say we're involved in a project called 'Operation Occupy the White House,'" Perry said.

Michele Bachmann, speaking after the Texas governor, laid out her messages using optimistic words. At one point, she even borrowed Obama's 2008 campaign message.

"As I look out at all of you, what I see is the epicenter of hope and change for our country," Bachmann said. "That's the Republican Party of Iowa."

The Minnesota congresswoman also praised Reagan.

"We have to have a commitment that is absolutely grounded in cement that our nominee will be an individual who will stand strong and make sure that there is no compromise with repealing 'Obamacare' 100%. No compromise with repealing Dodd-Frank - the jobs and housing destruction act - 100%. No compromise abolishing the tax code and creating it with a Ronald Reagan style pro-growth tax code. No compromise with liberty, no compromise," Bachmann told the crowd.

As he often does, Rick Santorum highlighted his faith and family values. The former Pennsylvania senator also reiterated a common criticism of conservatives.

"We want to take all the regulations that the Obama administration has put into place that costs businesses over a $100 million and repeal them," Santorum said.

"Those that we can't repeal permanently, we'll replace them with ones that are more friendly to business. And we will send a message, day one, that manufacturers and processors and all businesses are welcome back here in America to grow our economy."

Newt Gingrich was the last GOP candidate to speak. The former House Speaker has recently chastised Mitt Romney and Perry for squabbling during debates, recently comparing the two men to "kids" on a playground.

At the dinner, there was no such language from Gingrich. Instead, he called the field his "competitors" – with the president being his only "opponent."

Gingrich did highlight his differences from others in the field, however.

"I am the only candidate in this race who, at a national level, has balanced the budget four consecutive years, led an effort across the system for the first tax cuts in 16 years, led an effort which led unemployment to drop 5.6% to 2.4%, and created a national majority for the first time in 40 years," Gingrich said.

–Follow Shannon Travis on Twitter: @ShanTravisCNN

Also see:

Pro-Cain group attacks media over controversy


Perry: Our campaign didn't have anything to do with it

Lawyer for Cain accuser hopes to release statement Friday


Filed under: 2012 • Iowa • Michele Bachmann • Newt Gingrich • Rick Perry • Rick Santorum • Ron Paul • Ronald Reagan
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. thomas

    Ronald Reagan would have thought them all to be week and without VISION !

    November 5, 2011 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  2. Sgt. Joe

    Wow....very original.

    November 5, 2011 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  3. Dee

    People need to remember that Reagan was a good President but he was also a great actor that is why he could deliver speeches.

    Michele Bachman instead of criticizing the President needs to be on the Hill helping to pass the Jobs Bill she said she could create all these jobs what is she waiting for.

    Gingrich is another story he will surely be vetted he has no respect for women, wives, and his family. Especially the wife that was in the hospital sick with cancer that he told about his infidelity. His character will certainly have a great impact on him being elected a candidate for the President of the US.

    The media is going to have a field day he thinks he has gotten off easy but he has not.

    November 5, 2011 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  4. T in Dallas

    Gee...what did you think they'd say about Reagan and Obama? ....and Neutered Newt trying to appear presidential which is not hard to do in this cast of clowns

    November 5, 2011 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  5. Squigman

    And this is news? What would have been news, would have been the opposite. Berating Reagan, and praising Obama, would have been news.

    November 5, 2011 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  6. Little Jimmy Truth

    That's true about Ronald Reagan. He was great president.

    November 5, 2011 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  7. manhandler

    There you go again........There you go again.....There you go again.....There you go again......

    November 5, 2011 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  8. normajean @ verizon ,com

    It is so easy for these men to champion someone who is no longer here. Many of them would have questioned his policies just as they do President Obamas because Reagan was an individual with his own way of thinking that didn't always find favor with his political counter parts. ...For instance.. Reagan said " Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost " This is in opposition to the way some of these men seem to believe considering their current actions!!!As with most presidents, he was a good man but he also was his own man!!!!
    !

    November 5, 2011 02:56 am at 2:56 am |
  9. MaryM

    Reagan RAISED TAXES.

    November 5, 2011 03:20 am at 3:20 am |
  10. Donkey Party

    All of the GOP-bagger candidates and members of congress holding the country and economy hostage should be shot for treason.

    November 5, 2011 03:33 am at 3:33 am |
  11. no1atall

    I'm sorry, I didn't see Cain's comments at the dinner posted; was he not invited? Was this a meeting of the 'real' republican candidates? Was claiming the Koch brothers as "brothers from another mother" his swan song? Even he could not be that stupid by chance. This must be his way out of a nomination that he knew all along that he would not ever receive.

    November 5, 2011 03:40 am at 3:40 am |
  12. frank in valparaiso

    Ron Paul is the only one that is close to honest about how St Ronnie started destroying the economy of this country. From his tax cuts to the waste in the defense budget. At least he had the sense to pull out of Lebanon instead of getting us into another quagmire.

    November 5, 2011 03:54 am at 3:54 am |
  13. Not fooled

    Google 10 things Conservatives don't want you to know about Ronald Reagan

    November 5, 2011 04:55 am at 4:55 am |
  14. Not fooled

    If President Obama could have raised taxes 11 times like Reagan did this country would be in good shape.
    After he cut taxes in 1981 unemployment went up to 10.8 %. 7-8--10 are real kickers.

    November 5, 2011 05:22 am at 5:22 am |
  15. AlaskaPalin

    Obama is doing well on terrorism (farc leader killed). If he destroys iran nuke program he'll get an A rating but for now B+ on foreign policy. He gets D on the economy. He gets F on social issues. His overall ratings is E+. Not good enough to be given a second term.

    November 5, 2011 05:34 am at 5:34 am |
  16. Clwyd

    As a former Goldwater Republican, way back when, I think the both Ron and Barry would turn over in their graves if they saw the present sate of the republican party that refuses to negotiate and compromise. They have become a party of corporate controlled zombies! The republican party today is what has turned me into a Democrat! A very liberal one at that!

    November 5, 2011 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  17. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    So they spoke well of a President who signed amnesty for illegal immigrants, raised taxes for large numbers of Americans, secretly funded rebellion against a sovereign government by selling arms to another country to raise the monies to support that rebellion. A President who did not believe in 90% of the policies of today's conservatives, especially as they infringe against personal liberty. A Man who could not get nominated today because he would be considered too moderate or even (gasp) LIBERAL!

    November 5, 2011 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  18. Sandy

    They praise the man who helped dig the ditch we are in now, but berate the guy trying to dig us out of it, a guy who they won't even help. Uh, ok. (roll eyes).

    November 5, 2011 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  19. zb

    Ronald Regan: so the guy who tripled the national debt; cut taxes on the rich and raised them on the poor; engaged in secret and silly wars and a war against sick and poor, bargained with terrorists; made us dependent on foreign oil; caused the 1987 stock market crash; and generally did his best to make the world safe for more exploitation is the Republican/Tparty's idol. Did I mention he probably had Alzeihmer's while he was in office. Makes perfect sense the Republican/Tparty would idolize a legend in their own mind. I suppose between Herbet Hoover and Nixon they didn't have much to choose from.

    November 5, 2011 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  20. diridi

    This clearly denotes that these five idiots do not know the "TRICKLE-DOWN" effect and its fiasco. Shame on these Animals.

    November 5, 2011 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  21. Keith Bambei

    Comparing Reagan to Obozo is like comparing Jack Nicklaus to a weekend hacker with a 30 handicap!

    November 5, 2011 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  22. once upon a horse

    President Reagan was also in favor of raising taxes on the wealthy to help pay for the economy. I wonder if they played THAT tape, you can find it on YouTube. Nancy Reagan is in favor of stem cell research...wonder if the GOPers commented on THAT. Reagan would be called a RINO in todays far right Republican Party. In fact according to his daughter he would be somewhat ASHAMED of it.

    November 5, 2011 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  23. Independent Voters

    The no good republicans really hate our president. The american people love our president and we dont need any haters in office so we going to vote the republicans out of the office.

    November 5, 2011 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  24. Dave

    Please... None of these self-righteous idiots are going to beat Obama. All they can talk about are simple-minded bumper-sticker solutions that got this country into place it's in now. I never thought much of Reagan, but he was a deep thinker compared to these buffoons.

    November 5, 2011 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  25. vet in tx

    I wonder if they mentioned Reagan when he negotiated trading hostages for weapons to Iran, or gave amnesty to millions of illegals, or when he raised taxes at least 7 times, they did right?

    November 5, 2011 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
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