No other GOP candidate has invoked Ronald Reagan more than Newt Gingrich. Nate Silver has been keeping count and Newt has invoked the former President 55 times as compared to Mitt Romney, who has only done it 6 times. Perhaps that's because Newt is trying to erase his history of bashing Reagan when it came to the fight against the USSR:
But not Newt Gingrich. He voted with the caucus, but his words should be remembered, for at the height of the bitter struggle with the Democratic leadership Gingrich chose to attack . . . Reagan.
The best examples come from a famous floor statement Gingrich made on March 21, 1986. This was right in the middle of the fight over funding for the Nicaraguan contras; the money had been cut off by Congress in 1985, though Reagan got $100 million for this cause in 1986. Here is Gingrich: “Measured against the scale and momentum of the Soviet empire’s challenge, the Reagan administration has failed, is failing, and without a dramatic change in strategy will continue to fail. . . . President Reagan is clearly failing.” Why? This was due partly to “his administration’s weak policies, which are inadequate and will ultimately fail”; partly to CIA, State, and Defense, which “have no strategies to defeat the empire.” But of course “the burden of this failure frankly must be placed first on President Reagan.” Our efforts against the Communists in the Third World were “pathetically incompetent,” so those anti-Communist members of Congress who questioned the $100 million Reagan sought for the Nicaraguan “contra” rebels “are fundamentally right.” Such was Gingrich’s faith in President Reagan that in 1985, he called Reagan’s meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev “the most dangerous summit for the West since Adolf Hitler met with Neville Chamberlain in 1938 in Munich.”
Calling Reagan a failure and comparing what he was doing to Adolf Hitler? And this isn't from the "liberal media" or some unnamed source. This article appears in the very conservative National Review and is authored by Elliot Abrams, former Bush and Reagan administration official.
But what makes this even more interesting is how Newt constantly tries to take partial credit for the fall of the Soviet empire. He states it in every debate, yet history shows he was a man opposed to what Reagan was doing.
It's going to be interesting to see how Republicans, especially those that view Reagan as the messiah, will react to this recollection of history. I bet the Romney campaign is eating this up today.