The Democratic president typically offers up GOP leaders of the past as evidence of how both parties can work together in Washington to pursue big ideas and rebuild the economy. With Election Day seven months away, Obama hopes to convince voters that he, like his Republican predecessors, is a reasonable moderate. At the same time, he's casting Romney as a candidate who would embrace too-conservative policies out of step with most Americans and with his own party in years past.
Obama invoked Reagan's name four times in a speech this week to The Associated Press annual meeting. He said the conservative hero, never accused of being a "tax-and-spend socialist," still recognized the need for tax increases as well as spending cuts to tame federal deficits. Obama's verdict: "He could not get through a Republican primary today."