Closing out Wednesday’s NBC Nightly News, liberal correspondent and MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell played the role of Ronald Reagan biographer in using the late former president to attack the current Republican presidential field and ruled that Reagan’s “message was infused with sunny optimism” and represents “the flip side of today's angry rhetoric.”
Roughly an hour before the main Republican debate at the Reagan Library, Mitchell began the segment by explaining that “the other Republican race” has been “[t]he candidates racing to compared themselves to Ronald Reagan,” but quickly declared that the Gipper “skewered his opponents with a self-deprecating quip” and “not an attack.”
Mitchell brought up Donald Trump’s adoption of Reagan’s phrase “to make American great again,” but reverted back to bashing the GOP: “Reagan’s message was infused with sunny optimism, the flip side of today's angry rhetoric.”
These comments allowed Mitchell to tee up NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss, who opined: “He said once, I hope history will say I tried to appeal to people's best instincts, not the worst fears.”
Continuing the latest example of the liberal media giving a conservative from the past a dose of sudden respect, Mitchell hyped that “Reagan compromised with Democrats on taxes and immigration.” Again chiding Republicans and painting them with a broad brush, Mitchell blasted them for the claim that “while today’s candidates talk about building walls...Reagan enacted immigration reform.”
Passing herself off as a fan of all things Reagan, Mitchell declared that the 40th President “saw America as a shining sit on the hill” and “[a] country welcoming people in, not shutting them out.”
Wrapping up her report, Mitchell put a bow on the matter with these thoughts on Reagan: “In Reagan's words, a shining city teaming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace.”
The transcript of the segment from September 16's NBC Nightly News:
LESTER HOLT: The memory of former President Ronald Reagan is looming large over tonight's GOP debate, taking place in the library that bears his name, but how do Reagan’s principles compare to those laying claim to his legacy. Here’s NBC’s Andrea Mitchell.
ANDREA MITCHELL: It’s the other Republican race. The candidates racing to compare themselves to Ronald Reagan.
DONALD TRUMP: He is somebody that I actually knew and liked and he liked me.
REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER (Wisc.): I remember our wedding anniversary because it is Ronald Reagan's birthday.
MITCHELL: Jeb Bush even undressed to show his Reagan connection.
JEB BUSH: Reagan and Bush.
MITCHELL: He was the great debater.
PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN [in 1984]: I'm not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience.
MITCHELL: But he skewered his opponents with a self-deprecating quip, not an attack says his son Michael.
MICHAEL REAGAN: He honestly believed in the 11th commandment, thou shalt not talk ill of another Republican.
MITCHELL: Donald Trump has even taken Reagan’s slogan, “to make America great again,” but Reagan’s message was infused with sunny optimism, the flip side of today's angry rhetoric.
NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: He said once, I hope history will say I tried to appeal to people's best instincts, not the worst fears.
MITCHELL: And Reagan compromised with Democrats on taxes and immigration. So, while today’s candidates talk about building walls –
TRUMP: They’re bringing crime, they’re rapists.
REPUBLICAN SENATOR TED CRUZ (Tex.): And I led the fight in the Senate to defeat amnesty when the Democrats tried to pass it.
MITCHELL: Reagan enacted immigration reform.
MICHAEL REAGAN: You solve a problem in the Ronald Reagan way with a wink and a nod and you get together and get things solved.
MITCHELL: Reagan saw America as a shining sit on the hill. A country welcoming people in, not shutting them out.
PRESIDENT REAGAN [in 1989]: If there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.
MITCHELL: In Reagan's words, a shining city teaming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace. Andrea Mitchell, NBC News, Washington.