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Nancy nixes Bush re-election bid and convention

July 1, 1993

Former President Ronald Reagan’s widow has socked it to the GOP. She let the Republicans know she wants nothing to do with their convention or President George W. Bush’s re-election bid. According to the news letter Capitol Hill Blue, Nancy Reagan has rejected numerous invitations to appear at the upcoming Republican National Convention in New York. She also warned the Bush camp she will not tolerate any use of her late husband’s image or his words by the Bush campaign. An earlier attempt by the Bushites to do just that in a campaign ad drew her ire and a prompt and pointed demand that they cease and desist.

A spokesman for the late president’s widow said: “Mrs. Reagan does not support President Bush’s re-election and neither do most members of the president’s family.”

Her son, Ron Reagan, spoke at the recent Democratic National Convention. In an article in next month’s Esquire magazine he writes that “George W. Bush and his administration have taken normal mendacity to a startling new level far beyond lies of convenience. They traffic in big lies.”

He is joined by his sister, Patty in opposing Bush’s re-election bid. Only Michael Reagan, a conservative talk show host, backs Bush and charges Ron is manipulating his mother. Michael is not Reagan’s biological offspring. He was adopted by Reagan when the actor was married to actress Jane Wyman. Like the old Smothers brothers gag, he complains that Nancy likes Ron best.

Michael told Fox News “He is her favorite. Ron can do no wrong. I mean, basically that’s it, Ron can do no wrong.”

But Ron believes Bush has severely damaged or destroyed the party his father helped to build. “My father, acting roles excepted, never pretended to be anyone but himself,” he wrote in Esquire. “His Republican Party, furthermore, seems a far cry from the current model, with its cringing obeisance to the religious right.”

The falling out between the Reagans and the Bushes revolves around the issue of stem cell research, a development that many believe promises cures for debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s, which claimed Ronald Reagan’s life. Bush and his ultra-conservative allies are against such research, the Reagans, except for Michael, support it. Beyond that, Nancy has told close friends she believes Bush and the party leadership have been dividers, not uniters of the country because of their extreme views. She wants no part of them.

During the week of Reagan’s funeral, Nancy exploded into anger when she learned the Bush campaign was test marketing ads that contained Reagan’s photos and speeches in an effort to imply the late president supported Bush and his re-election. She personally called the honcho of the Republican Party, Ed Gillespie and demanded the ads be destroyed.

The Republicans admitted the ads were made but were never aired. They were scrubbed after focus groups that viewed them thought they were in poor taste. “Mrs. Reagan doesn’t care why the ads were pulled,” her spokesman said. “She just wanted to make sure they never went on the air. She does care about whether or not the memory of President Reagan is used for political purposes.”

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