We have witnessed something very disturbing this week. The Republican establishment which fought Ronald Reagan in the 1970s and which continues to fight the grassroots Tea Party movement today has adopted the tactics of the left in using the media and the politics of personal destruction to attack an opponent.
We will look back on this week and realize that something changed. I have given numerous interviews wherein I espoused the benefits of thorough vetting during aggressive contested primary elections, but this week’s tactics aren’t what I meant. Those who claim allegiance to Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment should stop and think about where we are today. Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater, the fathers of the modern conservative movement, would be ashamed of us in this primary.
Let me make clear that I have no problem with the routine rough and tumble of a heated campaign. As I said at the first Tea Party convention two years ago, I am in favor of contested primaries and healthy, pointed debate. They help focus candidates and the electorate. I have fought in tough and heated contested primaries myself. But what we have seen in Florida this week is beyond the pale. It was unprecedented in GOP primaries. I’ve seen it before – heck, I lived it before – but not in a GOP primary race.