Donald Trump has grown quite fond of invoking the legacy of Ronald Reagan. His reasons for doing so are obvious, since conservatives maintain a fountain of goodwill for the 40th president. Trump has been wily while drawing comparisons, too. He loves trucking out his associates to sing his praises, and he sent former wife Ivana out to tell the story of how an important person told Donald — way back in the 1990s — that he must run for president. Ivana said it was “Reagan or somebody,” so it literally could have been anyone. Yet she planted the idea that maybe, possibly, in a bizarro sort of world, Ronald Reagan encouraged the future President Trump.
Trump has run with this idea, and maybe he even believes it. He draws references while explaining his own morphing stances, which he sees as an example of evolving like Reagan. But Reagan’s own son, Michael, feels much differently. This week, he pushed back against Trump with this announcement that he wouldn’t vote for the real-estate mogul in the California primary.
Then Michael added his father’s name to the mix, saying Donald’s rise would signal the first time his father would decline to support the GOP nominee. He name-checked RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, who’s been weakly defending Trump’s antics.
Michael replied to Twitter criticism by calling Trump an “embarrassment.” He also said Ronald would be thinking “the GOP left me.”
Michael’s serious about removing his father’s name from Trump’s rhetoric. Earlier this week, he spoke with Newsmax about how Paul Ryan made a huge mistake in endorsing Trump. He also said the Reagan family is completely revolted every time Trump compares himself to the former president. Michael said the feeling runs throughout the Reagan clan, which is “absolutely insulted” by anyone who claims such similarities.
Wolf Blitzer picked up on this friction and cornered Trump spokesperson Katrina Pierson on the issue. Blitzer wanted to know if Trump found this to be a “very particularly painful rebuke,” but Pierson said Michael can’t claim to know how his father would think:
“I think it’s unfortunate that he would go far to assume that because he doesn’t know what Ronald Reagan would do because, in fact, I think Ronald Reagan would probably support Mr. Trump, considering how he has been a Republican who has been out there who has broadened the Republican base … The people have spoken, and I believe Ronald Reagan would support his nominee.”
To all of this, Michael responded, “Oh yes I can.”
Here’s Pierson’s video interview with Blitzer. She’s as brazen as always, but at least she left the bullet necklace at home.