Tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern right here on msnbc, eight Republicans running for the honor of being their party’s presidential nominee will debate for the fourth time this year. What you won’t hear from the moderators or the commentators or even the candidates is much about the location of the event – the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. Yes, the former president’s name will be bandied about like a birdie in a game of badminton, but as Rachel said in this Campaign Asylum video from 2007, there is an “awkward distance between what they want you to think of with these symbolic choices, and what you do think of.”
Mitt Romney, for example, has named a major portion of his big economic plan after Mr. Reagan. The “Reagan Economic Zone” is supposed to make Republican primary voters think of the Gipper and get that warm and fuzzy feeling all over. The only problem is that what we think of when we hear about Mr. Romney’s “Reagan Economic Zone,” is how in the 2008 campaign he pitched something with almost the exact same title– The “Reagan Zone of Economic Freedom.” How’d that go for you last time, President Romney?