The legacy of Ronald Reagan

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," October 19, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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O'REILLY: Campaign 2016 segment tonight, the legacy of Ronald Reagan. He was the most successful Republican president in modern times. Dwight Eisenhower coming in second.

In the last Republican debate, the GOP candidates mentioned Reagan's name 26 times, hoping to attach their policies to the fond memories many Republican voters have of Mr. Reagan.

It is sound strategy because in 2015 under Barack Obama, America is experiencing some of the same intense problems that it did under Jimmy Carter, the man Ronald Reagan defeated for the presidency in 1980. It's almost eerie.

Carter's foreign policy was a debacle including Iran and the economy back home a mess, as it is now.

As they say in trendy circles, hello!

This campaign certainly is back to the future. While writing and researching my book "Killing Reagan", I think I discovered the secret to Ronald Reagan's success as president. And that is courage.

The assassination attempt injured him grievously he was 70 years old when Hinckley shot him. In public, it looked like Reagan recovered quickly. Behind the scenes, he (AUDIO GAP). How he overcame his story is stunning and the mark of a great man.

Some folks don't want that story told and this time, it's not the left attempting to deceive us. It was zealous supporters of Ronald Reagan. Before "Killing Reagan" was even finished, my co-author Martin Dugard received calls from former California Governor Pete Wilson and former Secretary and Exchange Commissioner Christopher Cox warning us, warning us not to say anything negative about Mr. Reagan.

Cox, by the way, is the guy who presided over the mortgage debacle that collapsed the economy in 2007.

Of course, Dugard and I are threatened all the time. The price we pay for writing about history in an honest and successful way.

The Reagan guardians even went to my bosses to try to spike the book. By the way, we have invited Wilson and Cox on The Factor to talk it over and we are looking forward to having them on.

Then, last week, a hit piece on "Killing Reagan" shows up in "The Washington Post." It was almost comical. For example, the writers of the story insisting Ronald Reagan was not a lady's man when he was a Hollywood star.

Do you remember the names Errol Flynn and William Holden? They were Reagan's running buddies. The actors, well, they were a bit flamboyant to say the least. You might want to look them up.

If anything, Dugard and I played down the Hollywood stuff, but we had to include it in order to show how Reagan went from a somewhat shallow celebrity to a great man. Nancy Reagan had a lot to do with that.

But what has really angered the Reagan loyalists is the absolute fact that President Reagan sometimes struggled in the White House. We believe because of his injuries. The loyalists even deny there was an intense 1987 meeting in the cabinet room where President Reagan was being evaluated by his own top guys.

But that's absolutely true. An "Associated Press" report dated December 14th, 1988 explains the situation. A "New Yorker Magazine" article dated April 24th, 2011 also instructive, if you care to check those out.

Fast forward to now. The success of Ronald Reagan is what modern politicians should consider and emulate in both parties that should not be based on a false narrative. Reagan's personal courage overcoming a near death experience and holding firm to his core values is what caused him to triumph over adversity. Mythologizing Ronald Reagan does the country no good at all. He was a man with flaws like the rest of us.

But his message for American politicians today is a powerful one: Stand for something. Don't back down. Fight your way through difficult times.

As President Reagan well understood there is good and evil on this earth. And it must be confronted. Not excused and avoided as we are seeing in the world today.

Ronald Reagan was challenged by a would-be assassin's bullet. A lesser man would not have made it. But Reagan did is he changed the world forever by defeating the Soviet Union and restoring a vibrant economy to America. All of the presidential candidates today should take notice.

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