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Historian Craig Shirley — Huffington Post Gets it Wrong on Ronald Reagan’s 1980 Presidential Campaign

On Sunday, the Huffington Post ran an Op-Ed attacking presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for claiming that Ronald Reagan won the 1980 presidential election mostly on conservative principles.

Cruz recently said 2016 was going to be like “1980” and that the GOP will win the presidency by “following Reagan’s dictum of painting in bold colors and not pale pastels.” The Huffington Post claimed that in reality, Reagan won mostly based on the “votes of liberal and moderate voters.”

“Cruz uses Reagan as the archetype of a Republican who won the presidency by proudly wearing the conservative label,” Huffington Post contributor Rich Rubino concluded. “He fails to mention that Reagan’s perceived conservatism was a hindrance that Reagan successfully overcame.”

However, Ronald Reagan historian Craig Shirley, author of the recently released, Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan amongst many other books on the 40th president, has pushed back against the idea that Reagan won through pragmatism and moderation. Shirley insists that Sen. Cruz was correct, and that it was Reagan’s bold stand on conservative principles that won the election.

“As the author of Rendezvous with Destiny, the definitive work on the 1980 campaign, I can tell you Ted Cruz’s interpretation of history is a hell of a lot more accurate than the ultra-leftist Huffington Post’s revisionism,” Presidential Historian Craig Shirley said to Breitbart News. “Reagan did not move to the left in the fall campaign. He won the nomination as a conservative and ran as the nominee of the GOP as a conservative. Reagan got the support of liberals in 1980? Ridiculous.”

Shirley also took to Twitter to push back against the Huffington Post’s thesis that Reagan won the presidency as a moderate, and governed California as a “technocratic pragmatist”

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