Dan Rather Blames Watergate, Reagan Years for GOP’s ‘Strong Turn to the Right,’ Size of 2016 Field

Appearing with journalist Carl Bernstein on Wednesday’s CNN Tonight to promote the upcoming episode of CNN’s The Seventies on Watergate, former CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather decried the Republican Party’s “strong turn to the right” and blamed the size of party’s 2016 field on the Watergate scandal and the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

The topic came up when host Don Lemon asked Rather if he thought that the number of declared GOP candidates (which currently stands at 12) are “too many people and did you have that in the past” and specifically the 1970s. 

Rather first emphasized that “we never had this many candidates in the race when I say this early” before suggesting that there is indeed “a relationship between the 2016 presidential campaign and what happened in the 1970s during the Watergate period.”

From there, the proverbial train came off the rails as the disgraced, liberal CBS News figure declared that:

What happened in the mid 1970s resulted, eventually, in the Republican Party taking a strong turn to the right with the two-term presidency of Ronald Reagan and the Republican party is still struggling, on the one hand, with the success of the Reagan presidencies, which by the way, I would argue, the presidency of George H.W. Bush was the third Reagan term. So, in effect, you had three Reagan terms. 

After reiterating his point that the GOP “took this strong turn to the right coming out the 1970s,” Rather arrived at the conclusion that “the party is still struggling with that which is one of the reasons that they have, what, 16 candidates and counting in the race of the primary at the beginning.”

Roughly a month ago, Rather joined MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show on May 19 to trash another member of the Bush family when he ruled that 2016 Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio would “score in the high 90s on a dumb test” regarding their answers to questions about the Iraq War.

The relevant portion of the transcript from CNN Tonight with Don Lemon on June 17 is transcribed below.

CNN Tonight with Don Lemon
June 17, 2015
10:52 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: The Run for the White House; Bernstein and Rather on 2016 Race]

DON LEMON: When we talk about the presidential – cause the presidential elections coming up. We've got Hillary Clinton, pretty much who’s decided on the Democratic side and then you have 12 people on the Republican side. Is that too many people? And did you have that in the past? In the 70s? Or when you were –

DAN RATHER: No, we never had this many candidates in the race when I say this early, but I would say there's a relationship between the 2016 presidential campaign and what happened in the 1970s during the Watergate period in this sense. What happened in the mid 1970s resulted, eventually, in the Republican Party taking a strong turn to the right with the two-term presidency of Ronald Reagan and the Republican party is still struggling, on the one hand, with the success of the Reagan presidencies, which by the way, I would argue, the presidency of George H.W. Bush was the third Reagan term. So, in effect, you had three Reagan terms. After the Republican Party took this strong turn to the right coming out of the 1970s and the party is still struggling with that which is one of the reasons that they have, what, 16 candidates and counting in the race of the primary at the beginning.

NBDaily Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Media Bias Debate Double Standards Conservatives & Republicans CNN CNN Tonight Video Don Lemon Dan Rather George H. W. Bush Ronald Reagan
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