The following is an excerpt from Stephen Collinson | April 6, 2016 | CNN.com |
Program note: This story was originally published in 2015. Explore the decade that continues to fascinate us today: CNN Original Series "The Eighties" airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on CNN.
Washington (CNN)It's been a quarter of a century since Ronald Reagan rode off into the California sunset, but the Republican Party has never stopped hankering for his heir.
The next generation of GOP White House candidates will battle for that long-vacant role Wednesday night, as they gather alongside Reagan's restored Air Force One at his presidential library for a pair of CNN presidential debates.
It's a rite of passage for Republican White House aspirants to invoke Reagan. Conservatives see his presidency as a golden age during which their movement slayed communism, restored America as a "shining city on a hill" and delivered 44 and then 49 states in successive presidential election routs. Many conservatives believe the two Bush presidencies that followed Reagan, as well as the subsequent GOP nominees, failed because they were not sufficiently faithful to the 40th president's ideoogical road map.
But some difficult questions lurk in the huge shadow Reagan casts over the Republican Party.
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