Wednesday night's Republican presidential debate -- the last before the slate of primary elections on February 5th -- was held in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. The location is hallowed grounds for GOPers who, if you haven't noticed, hold the nation's 40th president in pretty high regard. And, predictably, the Gipper love affair continued throughout the night's proceedings.
In all, the candidates and the moderators cited Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy's name a total of 54 times during the duration of the hour-and-a-half debate.
Each candidate had his turn. Sen. John McCain referred to himself not once, or twice, but three times as a "foot soldier" of the Reagan revolution.
Not to be outdone, there was this little pre-Valentines Day smooch offered up by Mitt Romney, in response to a question as to whether or not Reagan would support his candidacy.
"Absolutely," the former Massachusetts Governor declared. "Ronald Reagan would look at the issues that are being debated right here and say, one, we're going to win in Iraq, and I'm not going to walk out of Iraq until we win in Iraq. Ronald Reagan would say lower taxes. Ronald Reagan would say lower spending. Ronald Reagan would -- is pro-life. He would also say I want to have an amendment to protect marriage. Ronald Reagan would say..."
And on, and on, and on.
Then there was the moment when Mike Huckabee was asked about former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who was appointed by Reagan to the bench but has not been regarded highly in Republican folklore. Was she the right choice?
"History will have to determine that, and I'm not going to come to the Reagan Library and say anything about Ronald Reagan's decisions," the former Arkansas Governor said. "I'm not that stupid."
And just when you thought it was over, the Ron Paul campaign sent out a post-debate press release, entitled, "In the Reagan Library, Only Ron Paul Carries the Reagan Mantle:"
"In 1976, Ron Paul was one of only four Republican Congressmen to endorse Ronald Reagan for President," it read. "In tonight's debate at the Ronald Reagan Library, Congressman Paul once again showed that he is the candidate that stands for the conservative principles of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan."
With all the posthumous attention heaped upon him one could argue that Reagan was a transformative figure in political history. Just saying...