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Tonight the Role of Ronald Reagan Will Be Played By...

As 10 GOP contenders take the stage tonight at the Reagan Presidential Library, expect frequent references to "The Great Communicator," who left office with high approval ratings.

When his second term ended, more than six in 10 Americans approved of how Reagan was handling his job. And asked retrospectively, 71 percent told Gallup last year that they approved of Reagan's job performance; that's about twice as high as George W. Bush's latest ratings.

All candidates will likely try to wrap themselves with Reagan's legacy, but two recent polls show just how difficult that may be.

In an April CBS News poll, only 23 percent of Republicans said today's Republican Party is "following the same principles as Ronald Reagan." About two-thirds said the GOP has "gone off in a different direction."

A Fox News poll in March shows how little progress any of the top Republican presidential aspirants has made tying himself to Reagan. Asked open-ended which of the candidates is most like the former president, 18 percent of Republicans said Rudy Giuliani, 12 percent John McCain, 10 percent Fred Thompson, six percent Newt Gingrich and four percent Mitt Romney.

Fourteen percent of Republicans in the survey said "none" of the candidates is like Reagan, and another 28 percent had no opinion. Perhaps tonight's debate will convince people that one of the auditioners can play the part. At least that's what the 10 on the stage are hoping.

By Jon Cohen  |  May 3, 2007; 4:45 PM ET
Categories:  Polls  
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Next: In Their Own Words: The First GOP Debate


Mr. ED who was smarter than Ronnie and most republicans but a horse of course.

Posted by: Why us | May 3, 2007 8:09 PM | Report abuse

A senile actor who should have been impeached for Iran-Contra is their idol?? The guy who began the Forest Gumping of America? 40 years in the desert for idol worship.

Posted by: thebob.bob | May 5, 2007 11:38 PM | Report abuse

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