Some leading conservative voices, including a handful of potential 2024 Republican presidential contenders, will start flocking to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library this week to speak out on the critical questions concerning the future direction of the GOP.
Kicking off the speaking series, which is titled “Time for Choosing,” is former House Speaker Paul Ryan. The former Republican lawmaker from Wisconsin will travel to the famed presidential library situated in the hills of Simi Valley, Calif., to launch the speaking series with a Thursday address.
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Also taking part in the discussions about the future of the conservative movement – with speeches at a later date – are former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former South Carolina governor and former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, and Sens. Tim Scott of South Carolina and Tom Cotton of Arkansas – all of whom are considered to be possible GOP candidates in the next race for the White House.
The speaking series comes as the GOP searches for the best path forward after losing the White House and the Senate in the 2020 elections. And it comes as the 2022 midterm election cycle – where the Republicans aim to win back both chambers of Congress – starts to heat up and as former President Trump vows to remain a kingmaker in party politics as he repeatedly flirts with a 2024 White House run.
The speakers, which also include former Reagan speechwriter and Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, will be asked to address why they are a Republican, what the GOP should stand for, how the party is succeeding and failing, what domestic and foreign policy positions are critical for the party to take into the future, and what Republican philosophies the entire party can agree upon.
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“The ‘Time for Choosing’ series will help Republicans better understand the importance of having a forward-looking, positive and optimistic agenda on which to contest the 2022 mid-terms as well as show the political impact of putting the emphasis on America’s future,” veteran GOP strategist and Fox News contributor Karl Rove said.
Roger Zakheim, Washington director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, spotlighted that “having lost the presidency and Senate majority, Republicans must take a fresh look — through reasoned, intellectual discussion — at the issues, ideas and policies that will define the Republican Party for decades to come.”
It’s no surprise that the Reagan Library, which showcases the legacy of America’s 40th president and hero and legend to the country’s conservatives, is providing the national stage for the discussion on the GOP’s future.
Rove, the political guru who helped orchestrate both of George W. Bush’s presidential election victories and who as a younger strategist worked on Reagan’s 1984 presidential reelection campaign, said “that the Reagan Library will host these speech is a terrific reminder that the 40th president showed how leadership based in conservative principle could change America and the world for the better.”
And Zakheim stressed that “the mission of the series is not to promote Reaganesque policies and approaches. Reagan was modern-minded in his own time and knew that as times change, new challenges and solutions abound.”
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Ryan, the first speaker in the series, emphasized that he looks “forward to addressing these fundamental and timely questions, but more importantly I am eager to hear how other Republican and conservative leaders, each with their own convictions and priorities, address the same questions.”
And Ryan, a member of the Fox Corporation board of directors, said he’s “confident that our substantive, reasoned dialogue will do a service to the legacy of President Reagan and the party he once led.”
The speaking series name comes from Reagan’s 1964 address in support of Sen. Barry Goldwater, the conservative lawmaker from Arizona and 1964 GOP presidential nominee. Reagan, a long-time Hollywood midlevel star and TV actor, host and announcer who at the time was relatively new to politics, used his speech to present the country with a choice between “man’s old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order” and “the ant heap of totalitarianism.”
While the future course of the party is the main mission of the speaking series, it’s also grabbing attention due to the number of potential 2024 Republican presidential contenders taking part.
“President Reagan is and always will be the gold standard for any aspiring Republican president, and it’s fitting that his library will host one of the early cattle calls of the next generation of contenders,” longtime Republican strategist Colin Reed told Fox News.
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While rallying conservatives in the 1980s, Reagan was also known for promoting a “big tent” political strategy for the Republican Party. As early as 1967, the then-California governor said “there is room in our tent for many views; indeed, the divergence of views is one of our strengths.”
Reed emphasized that “no two elections are alike, but building on the bedrock and successful principles from the past is a useful exercise for a party looking toward the future. President Reagan’s peace through strength abroad and belief that an 80% friend is not a 20% enemy are two guideposts that the next Republican standard bearer should build off to best position the GOP as a national governing party once again.”