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Making Sense

Where's the Fire?
By Michael Reagan


October 10, 2007
Wednesday PM

Tuesday night's debate between the Republican candidates for the GOP presidential nomination showed once again why the majority of conservatives can't get excited over any of the current hopefuls.

Widely touted by the media as show-and-tell time for Fred Thompson ­ as the appearance that would make or break his candidacy ­ all that emerged from his corner was an acceptable performance, neither hot nor cold.

He showed that he has a good grasp of the economic facts, but there was none of that fire that Republicans crave to see in their standard bearer. He didn't damage himself, but he didn't set himself above his rivals either.

gif Republican Debate

Republican Debate
Artist Pat Bagley, Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

On the subject of the debate -- the economy -- Duncan Hunter showed the best grasp of the facts, especially the trade issue, while Thompson basically spoke in platitudes on the subject.

Over all, the debate showed there is not one candidate the voters can look at and say, "This is the guy we want to run the country."

The only real misstep was Mitt Romney's statement about going first to his attorneys if he had to go to war against Iran. He could learn a lesson from my father. He didn't go to his attorneys when he had to attack Grenada and Libya. He went to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He knew you can't sue your way to victory.

Mitt is a great and accomplished statesman, but his problem is that he looks too darn good. People suspect that there has to be something wrong with anybody who looks and acts that perfectly. Unfortunately, he comes across as a smooth salesman trying to sell you something you don't need.

He should mess up his hair and look a little bit disheveled or he'll remind people of the Democrat's carefully coiffed pretty boy, John Edwards.

As Ann Coulter wrote in her new book, the best-qualified of all the candidates is Rep. Duncan Hunter. During the debate he was the candidate who provided the best information about the economy and had a first-rate suggestion of what we need to do.

He keyed in on what must be one of the most important economic issues ­ trade.

He talked about our shocking $800 billion trade deficit, and what the Chinese are doing to us. Duncan understands that when anybody cites Ronald Reagan as a free-trade advocate in defense of our present trade policies, they need to remember that in my dad's playbook, protection of the American people came before anything else.

Take the case of Harley-Davidson. My father protected this American manufacturer of motorcycles against lower-priced Japanese imports. When he acted in behalf of an American company, Kawasaki and Honda reacted by moving their plants to the U.S. and created American jobs for American workers.

His policy was so successful that although he gave five years of protective tariffs to Harley-Davison, they didn't even need that long a time before they could turn their company around. Given a level playing field they proved their superiority as an American manufacturer.

Ronald Reagan did the same thing with semiconductors, and the auto and steel industries. He also forced the Japanese and others to open up their markets to American products so that trade would be fair. When that didn't happen he would impose tariffs on those products coming into the U.S., thus protecting American manufacturers.

Sure, he was a free trader who wanted too open up trade, but he always sought first to protect the sovereignty of the United States and its manufacturing base. He did not confuse free trade with giving the store away.

The effects of our current trade policies and the horrendous trade deficit they have produced are a gun pointed at the heart of our economy, and the Republican who can stand up and tell the truth about this problem and its solutions will be the one who emerges from the pack.


Mike Reagan, the eldest son of the late President Ronald Reagan, is heard on more than 200 talk radio stations nationally as part of the Radio America Network.
Look for Mike's new book "Twice Adopted". Order autographed books at

E-mail Michael Reagan at

Copyright 2007 Michael Reagan, All Rights Reserved.
Distributed exclusively to subscribers for publication
by Cagle, Inc.

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