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Campaign lessons

| Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, 9:27 p.m.

Michael Reagan, the son of President Ronald Reagan, is an author, political consultant and former host of a nationally syndicated radio talk show. Reagan, 67, spoke to the Trib regarding the presidential campaign and his father's legacy.

Q: What does Mitt Romney have to do to boost his standing in the swing states where he's trailing in the polls?

A: He's got to sell himself to the American people that he likes us, that he does understand (the plight of) those who are out of work and those who are looking to get a leg up.

My father was able to do that, to reach out to people, and even though they might have disagreed with his policies, they liked him.

And I think Obama's got something of the same thing going. They may dislike his policies, but people like him more than they like Romney.

His job in these debates is not so much to be on target about the economy — people know about the economy — but to get people to like him and feel comfortable enough with him to vote for him.

Q: How large an issue might the recent violence and instability in the Middle East be in the campaign's final weeks?

A: When it comes to foreign policy, the question that should be asked is “Are you safer today than you were four years ago?”

I would think the answer to that is absolutely not, you are not safer today than you were four years ago.

The president of the United States maybe doesn't realize it, but the puppeteer of what's going on in the Middle East is Vladimir Putin. He's reconstituting the Cold War in the Middle East.

We can't have the Rodney King (type of) foreign policy — “Can't we all get along” — because that is a sign of weakness to the rest of the world.

Q: Do you think Romney can win?

A: Boy, I hope so.

I did this op-ed piece (recently) that asked: Why aren't we mad? Why isn't America mad that you have unemployment over 8 percent, 46 million people on food stamps, you have a dead ambassador, two dead Navy SEALs, a dead embassy information specialist, you have 30 embassies under siege and America isn't upset that these things are going on.

And you know, I remember Bill Clinton in his speech at the (Democrat) convention — I think he finished by now — saying that as bad as it was (when Obama took office), neither myself or any of my predecessors could have solved the problems any quicker. That's why President Obama needs four more years.

I thought to myself, “My dad did it in three.”

Q: Could you elaborate on that?

A: You look back at 1980, we had hostages in Iran, we had almost double-digit unemployment, you had double-digit interest rates, double-digit inflation, gas lines. I mean, this country was in turmoil when my father was elected.

And he never blamed Jimmy Carter for the problems. He just went out there and solved them.

The reason he got re-elected is not because he needed four more years to fix the problems that beset the country before he took office. He got four more years because he earned four more years.

Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media (412-320-7857 or eheyl@tribweb.com).

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