Mitt Romney is too, no stranger to idealizing Reagan. So one might expect that his widely ridiculed outburst that President Obama sympathized with the attackers who killed four American foreign service officers this week was something Ronald Reagan would have done. Not exactly. Some reporters have wondered whether Reagan attacked President Carter after his failed attempt at rescuing American hostages in Iran during the 1980 campaign. So what did Reagan say as news broke? He called for national unity:
“This is a difficult day for all of us Americans. … It is time for us…to stand united. It is a day for quiet reflection…when words should be few and confined essentially to our prayers.”
George H.W. Bush, also campaigning for the GOP nomination at that time was more direct: “I unequivocally support the president of the United States — no ifs, ands or buts — and it certainly is not a time to try to go one-up politically. He made a difficult, courageous decision.”
And while Reagan did criticize Carter’s foreign policy throughout the campaign, he refrained from attacking the Iran issue during his debate with the president once he sealed the nomination. It’s a lesson Romney can learn from. As he has admitted, “I’ve learned over time, like Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush and others, my experience in life over, what, 19 — 17, 18, 19 years has told me that sometimes I was wrong.” “Where I was wrong, I’ve tried to correct myself.” Now may be time for that correction.
Greg Noth contributed to this post.