Obama is the Reagan of 2012

Newt and Mitt are clambering over each other trying to claim the Gipper's mantle. But it's a Democrat whose situation and rhetoric best mirror Reagan's

Robert Shrum

Newt, who was defenestrated in the Florida debates, is marching to the beat of his own manic drummer toward defeat in the Sunshine State and into an unfriendly February schedule with no surcease of setbacks. Meanwhile, Mitt, riding the overwhelming throw-weight of his negative ads, moves a little less stiffly and a lot more aggressively toward a begrudged nomination.

Along the way, they're quarreling bitterly over who's truer to Ronald Reagan. The charge that Gingrich isn't or wasn't is as far-fetched as a near-term colony on the moon. But no matter: Romney, who will say anything or shift any position, has the resources to convert a bald-faced lie into a convincing dividing line. It's rich hypocrisy, literally rich, from a candidate who in 1994 pleaded that he was an independent in the Reagan years — "I don't want to return to Reagan-Bush" — and who in the 1992 Massachusetts presidential primary voted for Democrat Paul Tsongas rather than casting a Republican ballot for either Bush the first or Pat Buchanan.

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Robert Shrum has been a senior adviser to the Gore 2000 presidential campaign, the campaign of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and the British Labour Party. In addition to being the chief strategist for the 2004 Kerry-Edwards campaign, Shrum has advised thirty winning U.S. Senate campaigns; eight winning campaigns for governor; mayors of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and other major cities; and the Democratic Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives. Shrum's writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The New Republic, Slate, and other publications. The author of No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner (Simon and Schuster), he is currently a Senior Fellow at New York University's Wagner School of Public Service.