They just can't stop themselves from trotting out the ghost of St. Ronnie Raygun at every opportunity and the legend that exists of him in every Republican's mind and this Monday night on Greta Van Susteren's show on Fox was no exception. When asked what Mittens needs to do to make some headway with the voters who really just don't like the man, former Gov. Haley Barbour told Van Susteren that Romney needed to "pull a Ronald Reagan" at this year's convention.
I've been hearing from one talking head after the other in the media that these campaign speeches are going to "introduce Mitt Romney to the public" and that voters "just don't know enough about him yet." The man's been running for president for how many years now? And between radio, cable television and the Internet, is there really anyone out there who doesn't already have a pretty good idea of who Mitt Romney is? Sorry, but I'm not buying the idea that one speech by Romney or his wife is going to make a lick of difference once the dust settles in what voters think of him.
But that won't stop the likes of Barbour pretending it's 1980 all over again.
VAN SUSTEREN: But anyway, all right, something else that you said recently. You said that Governor Romney can pull a Ronald Reagan here at this convention. What do you mean by that? And what does he do to pull a Ronald Reagan?
BARBOUR: Well, I -- you know, I was around -- this is my 12th presidential campaign. I was around in 1980. Reagan won the nomination, presumptive nominee in the spring, down 14 points to Jimmy Carter. By August, he was still down 9 points to Jimmy Carter.
People knew Jimmy Carter shouldn't be reelected. They didn't want him again, but they weren't sure about Reagan. Reagan's point was the debates. It was at the debates that the American people said, Well, all the bad stuff they've been saying about Reagan, I don't believe that. I like him. He seems very normal and regular to me.
Tonight, this week, Mitt Romney's going to have the chance to start doing what Ronald Reagan did, to disprove all the carpet-bombing that the Democrats have done. I mean, they have said he doesn't care about people like you, he's a bad person, he's a vulture capitalist, he shifts jobs to China, he's a plutocrat, his wife is a known equestrian.
BARBOUR: They have just said everything bad about him, but the American people know President Obama's record doesn't deserve reelection. Now they want to see what is the real Mitt Romney. And I think Mitt Romney starts at this convention doing what Ronald Reagan did in 1980, saying, This president doesn't deserve reelection, but let me tell you why I ought to be your president.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is the interest -- are the independents, undecided -- those are the ones that you're really interested in getting at this point, right? You got -- you got your party. I mean, you got (INAUDIBLE)
BARBOUR: The party's very united. There's no question about that.
VAN SUSTEREN: Party's united. Is -- to get the -- are the interested (ph) and undecided -- are they going to be watching? Is there any way to sort of -- to measure that and watch the -- do they just traditionally watch the debates? I mean, so you know that they're out there?
BARBOUR: Well, pollsters will tell you that they are not paying as much attention as partisans. But pollsters will also tell you that for many of them, this is sort of the beginning of the campaign and that they will watch, and they particularly want to learn about Romney because they've been told all these terrible things.
They're sitting there saying that the country's worse off since Obama. We're in a recession. Things are going in the wrong direction. So they're looking for somebody else. And this is the launch pad. This is not the only thing. I mean, we won't tell you next Friday that Romney has done it because the world doesn't work that way. But this is the first big step.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, President Reagan was quite a dazzler in debates, you agree, with Jimmy Carter? I mean, he was -- he was smooth and good. President Obama- he's good, too, at debates, would you not agree? So I mean, isn't it -- I mean, so is it almost -- it's quite a challenge for a candidate to do that. It's quite a challenge for Governor Romney.
BARBOUR: Well, of course. Any presidential campaign is a challenge. But look, the American people know that what's happened in the last three- and-a-half years -- they don't want four more years of that. If this is a referendum on Obama's record, he's going to lose.
But it is more than that. This is not only a referendum on Obama's failed record, this is people wanting to see what would Mitt Romney do to turn our country around. And it's interesting. Here's a guy that all of his career, in business, at the Olympics, in Massachusetts, has taken an enterprise that had real problems, turned it around going the right direction.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why didn't you endorse him, then? You never -- you haven't endorsed anybody. But why didn't you endorse him?
BARBOUR: I'll tell you, in '08, I didn't endorse anybody. And I think if you don't endorse somebody way back at the front, why do you endorse them after they've won the nomination? I've done...
VAN SUSTEREN: Looks like, Me, too, right?
BARBOUR: Yes. I've done everything I can do to try to help elect Mitt Romney, and I'm going to keep doing it because this is hugely important. I'll tell you, Greta, I'm worried that my children and grandchildren are not going to inherit the same country I inherited.
VAN SUSTEREN: Governor...
BARBOUR: That's -- and this election is a huge, huge, huge high- stakes election.
VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, thank you. And I know your wife is watching from out of town. So I appreciate that, too.
BARBOUR: Thank you, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, Governor.