How Often Was Ronald Reagan Mentioned In The Second GOP Debate? Let's Count Just How Many Times The Gipper's Name Was Invoked

If you hold a Republican presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Library with his Air Force One right behind the candidates, get ready for a lot of references to Ronald Reagan. But exactly how many times did the candidates mention Reagan during their second debate? Let’s go through and count.

It's no secret that Ronald Reagan is a beloved conservative hero (the first GOP debate saw his name brought up 14 times). Republicans credit him with ensuring years of economic prosperity and cementing U.S. power on the international stage. Even so, The Gipper was evoked with extraordinary frequency Wednesday night for various purposes, from self-comparison to (occasionally dubious) historical references to rhetorical poses. Over the course of the three-plus-hour debate, the candidates managed to mention their conservative hero on topics ranging from self-promotion to immigration to abortion to who should be on the $10 bill.

Many of the candidates have touted themselves as the next Reagan coming so it's little surprise the actor-turned-commander-in-chief was so frequently cited as a hero. So here goes, a count of how many times the GOP presidential candidates mentioned Ronald Reagan in their second debate. (We discounted references to the library unless it was directly related to the former president.)

Jeb Bush: 5


Bush's first attempt at honoring Reagan actually got cut off by Tapper, but he would go on to reference Reagan five times in total, including touching on the "Reagan Rule" to defend his decision to defund Planned Parenthood while governor of Florida. Bush said he wanted to take the Reagan approach should he become president, which he characterized as "hopeful" and "optimistic" (compared to Donald Trump approach"):

Mike Huckabee: 1

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He didn't mention Reagan by name, but he did use the library as a segue to laud the former prez:

Chris Christie: 1


Considering that Christie once reportedly name-dropped Reagan six times in one minute, a single reference is pretty surprising:

Rand Paul: 3

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When asked how he envisioned America's future, Paul cited the oft-told story of how a young Rand met Reagan:

John Kasich: 2


During his introduction to the American people, Kasich commented on the massive aircraft sitting behind the candidates in an attempt to put himself literally side-by-side with the former Republican president:

Marco Rubio: 3

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Rubio has often cited Reagan as a personal hero, and apparently the Gipper used to be his grandfather's hero, too. Rubio said that his Cuban immigrant grandfather "loved Ronald Reagan," and later explained just what made Reagan a great president in his eyes:

Carly Fiorina: 0


No Reagan mention here, but she did namedrop Steve Jobs.

Ted Cruz: 1

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Cruz went to the pretty straightforward unimaginative route to celebrate the 40th president of the United States:

Ben Carson: 2

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Reagan was a lifelong Democrat before switching to the Republican Party in 1962. Carson apparently shares that narrative:

Scott Walker: 5

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Walker tied with Bush with the most Reagan nods. He first introduced himself by thanking Nancy Reagan for hosting, and then praised Reagan, saying, “He knew how to go big and go bold,” He then compared himself to the Gipper: "… and that’s what I did when I took on the status quo in my state.” It's a legacy that Walker seems to think he'll follow, which includes a come-from-behind win in the election:

Donald Trump: 0


No surprise, Trump stuck to the script and talked about Trump.

Total: 23 times. That's a lot of Reagan.