Here's What Ronald Reagan's Son Thinks His Dad Would (And Wouldn't) Do In 2016
Although the Republican establishment may be geared up to roll with Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee, whether grudgingly or not, there are still pockets of conservative holdout that seem, well, pretty durable. While the #NeverTrump movement may have always been more aspirational than realistic — and indeed, polling suggests most Republicans want their party to get behind him, erratic and inflammatory nature and all — some people are still willing to say "hell no." For example: Ronald Reagan's son Michael is no Trump fan, as he announced on Monday that he wouldn't vote for the presumptive GOP nominee in the California primary, and that he thinks his father wouldn't have supported him either.
Michael, 71, lived through his father's presidency in his late 30s and early 40s. In other words, he was a fully-formed adult during the thick of the Reagan administration, and was therefore probably more than capable of gleaning insights into his father's worldview, beliefs, and in all likelihood, whether or not he'd want to support a candidate like Trump.
And to hear him tell it, this would've been the first Republican nominee in modern memory that wouldn't have earned the support of the 40th president. It's an especially stinging accusation when you consider that Ronald Reagan's so synonymous with the so-called "11th commandment" in GOP politics: "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican."
Now, you'd probably naturally assume it'd be hard to dispute this claim. Even if you happen to disagree about what our 40th president would've thought about this 2016 race, it's kind of hard to argue that point with one of the man's own children. But that was sort of the tact Trump spokesperson Katrina Pierson took in addressing the comments on CNN on Tuesday — she insisted that it was "unfortunate" that Michael Reagan tweeted what he did, because "he doesn't know what Ronald Reagan would do."
Pierson was challenged on this by CNN's Wolf Blitzer, but she didn't back off from the point. Regardless of whether Ronald Reagan would or would not have backed Trump against Hillary Clinton, however, it sounds an awful lot like Michael won't be changing his mind before November — he's always been quite reverential of his father, and if he really believes Ronald would've bucked tradition and refused to support Trump, it makes all the sense in the world that he'd feel the same.
The big question is whether other Republicans who venerate Reagan, or other GOP nominees who seem a lifetime ago — like George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole clear through to Mitt Romney — will feel similarly, or will follow this lead. If enough of them do, maybe it'll make a difference come November, although considering the ever-alluring draw of "party unity," you probably shouldn't get too ahead of yourself.