Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Romney, look to Nixon and Reagan

Interesting article from Politico. Worth the read below.

Romney, look to Nixon and Reagan

By: Julian E. Zelizer
Feb 26, 2008 08:20 PM EST
Richard Nixon
Nixon lost to John F. Kennedy in 1960 in one of the closest presidential elections in American history.

With Mitt Romney long gone from the Republican presidential nomination fight, he needs to start thinking about what to do next. If he wants to run again in 2012 or 2016, good role models would be Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

Nixon lost to John F. Kennedy in 1960 in one of the closest presidential elections in American history. Many Republicans felt that the Kennedy family had stolen the election through their connections in Illinois. When Nixon lost his campaign to become governor of California in 1962, his political career seemed dead; he famously told reporters that they would not have Nixon to “kick around anymore.”

But Nixon didn’t give up. He embarked on a six-year project to reconstitute his public image by refining his ideas and strengthening his political connections. The ideas component of his rebuilding effort included a lot of writing and a lot of talking. Nixon, the famous red-baiting anti-Communist, set out to develop an image of himself as a diplomat and statesman in foreign affairs. In 1967, Nixon published an article in Foreign Affairs stating that China needed to be integrated into world affairs, even if its political system remained abhorrent.

While working as a lawyer in Manhattan, Nixon also delivered speeches throughout the country criticizing President Lyndon Johnson’s handling of Vietnam. Johnson complained to Sen. William Fulbright (D-Ark.) that Nixon “questioned and denounced us” yet he “hasn’t talked to any of the State Department people, any of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He has no conception of what’s going on about it.”

Nixon did not neglect politics, however. Staking his reputation on improving Republican numbers in Congress, Nixon campaigned for candidates nationally in the 1966 midterm elections and played a central role in mobilizing support for the GOP. He raised about $6.5 million and campaigned in solidly Democratic districts. When conservatives did well, Nixon received enormous credit, and many Republicans were indebted to his effort. Of 108 Republicans for whom Nixon campaigned, 77 won.

Reagan depended on the same combination of politics and ideas after losing the Republican nomination to President Gerald Ford. Tapping into the energy of the conservative movement, Reagan challenged the incumbent by criticizing d├ętente with the Soviets and, more broadly, for having weakened America in the struggle against Communism. But Ford pulled out a victory in the final stages of the contest, narrowly winning the GOP nomination on the first ballot at the GOP convention in Kansas City.

When Ford lost the general election, Reagan kept politically active. He hosted a syndicated radio show to hone his messages and rhetoric, using the broadcasts to outline a bold vision of conservatism. When speaking about national security, Reagan continued to call for a massive buildup of the defense system and for the government to spend on weapons and aviation technology in place of ground troops.

(Click here for the rest of the article)

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