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Both Ronald Reagan and Mitt Romney began their political careers in elective office by serving as governors of large industrial states. Reagan served two terms as governor of California and Romney served one term as governor of Massachusetts.
It can be said they also started in politics with mostly liberal ideas. Romney began as a liberal Republican and Reagan was a liberal Democrat before becoming a conservative Republican.
Reagan never lost an election, having been successful in his two races for governor and his two campaigns for the presidency. Romney lost a bid for the U.S. Senate when he ran against U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy before running successfully for governor.
Both men, however, were defeated in their first try for the Republican presidential nomination. Reagan, after completing his second terms as governor in 1974, entered the presidential primaries in 1976 against President Gerald Ford and lost his first attempt to become the Republican presidential nominee by 117 votes at the party convention. Romney in 2008 lost his first presidential bid to U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the primaries.
They spent the next four-year period, after 1976 and 2008, preparing for a second attempt at the presidency. They traveled around the country making speeches and setting up local campaign organizations, besides engaging in fund-raising.
In 1980, Reagan, after winning the New Hampshire primary by a decisive margin, went on to win the Republican nomination. This year Romney, after winning most of the primaries, will most likely capture the presidential nomination. Reagan in 1980 ran against an incumbent, President Jimmy Carter, as Romney this year is also running against an incumbent, President Barack Obama.
At the conclusion of the 1980 presidential campaign, Reagan defeated Carter in a landslide, with Carter only carrying five states. It remains to be seen how Romney will do against Obama this fall.
In the case of these candidates, unemployment and inflation were and are key issues in their campaigns. It is fair to say Reagan and Romney had or have little or no foreign policy experience, but it was during the Reagan administration that Communism became less of a threat to the western world.
It was also during and immediately before Reagan’s presidency that Iran and Islamic extremism became a serious foreign policy problem, with the American embassy being taken over by Iranian revolutionaries and the embassy personnel being held as prisoners.
Today, the main problem with the Iranian government is its possible development of nuclear weapons, aside from its negative attitude toward the western world.
Both Reagan and Romney seem to exemplify faith and optimism in America. In the case of Carter, he seemed to criticize our nation for not having faith in the future. He called it a “crisis of confidence.” Obama in some cases has seemed to apologize for past American foreign policy initiatives.
Reagan and Romney want respect for our nation throughout the world. Reagan and Romney look and act presidential. Both of them by the time they were governors had achieved a degree of financial wealth.
The wives of these men have and are playing a major role in their husbands’ campaigns. That was true of Nancy Reagan and it is now true of Ann Romney.
Reagan and Romney were both over 60 when they launched their quest for the presidency after successful lifetime careers.
The question this year is can Romney duplicate the political success of Reagan. He seems to have the ability and determination to do so, but Obama is a more formidable candidate than Carter was. Obama’s campaign fund-raising will be a big help to him.
Some of the similarities in Reagan and Romney are striking but will not necessarily lead to the same results. History repeats itself, but not always in the same way.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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