VIDEO: Reagan and Bush were far to the left of current Republicans on immigration

Reagan with current GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul.

Once again, Republican candidates are clamoring to be more like Ronald Reagan. There may be no higher compliment on the right than to be considered Reaganesque.

Of course, once you drill down, Reagan’s actual positions on taxes, spending and immigration may well fit in better in the Democratic Party than in the current GOP.

A stunning case in point comes to us from Outside The Beltway which has dug up video footage of a 1980 debate between Reagan and George Bush, which given the context of today’s debate, you really have to see to believe.

Reagan calls for an open border with Mexico and Bush says illegal immigrants need to be treated the same as citizens and shouldn’t be considered lawbreakers.

In Wednesday’s debate, only also-ran Jon Huntsman even came close to Reagan or Bush’s nuanced approach to immigration. From The Huffington Post:

Although many attempted to focus narrowly on border security, presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman took a different tack, almost praising then-President Ronald Reagan for signing a mass amnesty for undocumented immigrants in 1986.

Huntsman said Reagan had recognized “a human issue, and I hope that all of us as we deal with this immigration issue will always see it as an issue that revolves around real human beings.”

He said he believes undocumented immigrants should be “punished in some fashion,” but believes legal immigration must be reformed to prevent people from coming into the country without documents.

“Let’s not lose sight of the fact that our legal immigration system is broken,” Huntsman said. “If we want to do something about attracting brain power to this country … we need to focus as much on legal immigration as possible.”

As Rick Perry and the other GOP candidates move to the right on immigration and other issues, they may leave President Obama as the one with the best claim on the Reagan mystique.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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