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Republicans Prefer Reagan to Bush in Presidential Debate (posted May 4, 2007)

President Ronald Reagan was invoked frequently by GOP presidential candidates at the first Republican debate of the 2008 election. Appearing at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, the 10 GOP aspirants saw Reagan much more than George W. Bush as the model for their own thinking. Between Reagan's strong foreign policy and tax-cutting proclivity, the current generation of Republicans sought to position themselves as the rightful heir to the conservative president.

Strangely absent from many of their answers was the name of George Bush. Few invoked him even when they were supporting his policies. Recognizing that his popularity has dropped not just among the electorate in general but Republicans as well, these candidates are starting to distance themselves from the current incumbent. With national polls showing Democrats with a 19 percentage point advantage over Republicans in the 2008 race, look for that distancing to become more pronounced as we move into next year.