Last 5 GOP Presidents Would Be Unelectable Today


NEWSWEEK: In the year and a half since Barack Obama was elected president, Republicans nationwide seem to have given up on the whole governing thing and chosen instead to play a long, rancorous game of “I’m More Conservative Than You Are.” They’ve been playing it in Utah, where incumbent Sen. Bob Bennett—lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 84—lost a primary battle this past weekend. They’ve been playing it in Florida, where moderate Gov. Charlie Crist was forced last week to abandon his bid for the Republican Senate nomination and run as an independent instead. And they’ve even been playing it on the national stage, where the RNC recently toyed with the idea of imposing a purity test on potential GOP candidates. Comply with eight of the party’s 10 “Reaganite” principles, the thinking went, and you’re worthy of funding. Fall short, and you might as well be Leon Trotsky. Conservatives would claim that the Republican Party can only regain power by “returning to its roots” and banishing heretics. But a funny thing happened on the way to winning national elections again: the GOP has drifted so far right that it’s retroactively disqualified the only Republicans since 1960 who’ve actually managed to, you know, win national elections. Based on their public statements, policy proposals, and accomplishments while in office, none of the modern Republican presidents—not Richard Nixon, not Gerald Ford, not George H.W. Bush, not even Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush—would come close to satisfying the Republican base if they were seeking election today. MORE

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