Obama keeps returning to Reagan

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It could have been a coincidence when Barack Obama gave a major policy speech last week at a building named after former President Ronald Reagan. But it comes from the same campaign that until yesterday had pushed to hold a major foreign policy address at the Brandenburg Gate, where Ronald Reagan in 1987 famously demanded of his Soviet counterpart, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

During his bid for the presidency, Obama has repeatedly praised the political gifts of Reagan, the modern president most revered by Republicans, and whose policies are still held in contempt by many leading liberals.

A year ago Obama compared Reagan favorably to President Bush in a primary debate while defending his pledge to meet directly with the leaders of hostile nations without preconditions. “Ronald Reagan called [Russia] an evil empire,” said Obama, but he also “spoke to the Soviet Union.”

In January, Obama came under fire from within his party after casting himself as an emotive heir to Reagan. “Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America,” Obama told a Nevada newspaper in January, noting that Reagan “tapped into what people were already feeling, which is: We want clarity, we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.”

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