As It Happens

Reagan would be 'distraught' by Trump campaign, says son Michael Reagan

Political pundits have pointed out similarities between Donald Trump and Ronald Reagan. Michael Reagan, son of the former U.S. president, begs to differ.
A cutout of Republican US presidential hopeful Donald Trump (R) and former US President Ronald Reagan (L) are seen during the American Conservative Union Conservative Political Action Conference 2016 in March. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

When you first heard Donald Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again," did it sound familiar?

It should have. It was popularized 36 years ago by another Republican nominee who was using fame earned in the TV and film world to try to unseat the Democrats from the White House.

The slogan helped Ronald Reagan win a major victory over incumbent Jimmy Carter in the 1980 election.

Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan stands before a cheering Republican National Convention in Detroit's Joe Louis Arena in 1980. (Rusty Kennedy/AP)

But the similarities between Trump and Reagan end there, says the former president's son.

"My father was never demeaning to people," Michael Reagan, tells As It Happens guest host Laura Lynch. "He understood in order to get things done you had to work with people on the other side that you may disagree with, and you didn't start by calling them names."

Michael Reagan, son of former President Ronald Reagan, speaks at the funeral service for the former president in June 2004. (David McNew/Getty Images)

Reagan considers himself a Republican. After the convention, he encouraged others to get behind Trump. "But every day, he makes it tougher to live and abide by what I feel I was raised to do: support the nominee of the party," Reagan said.

His father would have agreed, he says. "I think he would be distraught on what is going on with the campaign."

Patti Davis, Ronald Reagan's daughter and half-sister to Michael Reagan, went on Facebook last week and criticized Trump's recent suggestion that "Second Amendment people" should do something about the Hillary Clinton campaign.

"I am the daughter of a man who was shot by someone who got his inspiration from a movie," she wrote, recalling the 1981 attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan by John Hinckley Jr. Davis suggested that Trump's "glib and horrifying comment" could incite more violence.

Michael Reagan thinks Trump was simply misunderstood. But the gaffe does illustrate what Reagan sees as Trump's biggest liability: He can't shut his mouth long enough for the media to turn their attention toward Clinton.

Reagan wrote in an opinion piece last week that Trump's handlers should "lock him into a soundproof booth until November 9th" in order to help the Republicans' chances.

So will Trump have Reagan's support come voting day?

"If I was walking into that voting booth, I probably would vote for Trump today," he says. "But I don't know if I would vote for Trump tomorrow."

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