How times have changed. Ronald Reagan was once the lion of the Republican party, seen within the GOP as a transformational leader who unified conservatives, governed from the right, and achieved a high degree of popularity.
Now, there is considerable doubt about how well Reagan would fit in with today's more ideologically inflexible GOP.
The latest evidence comes from Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida known for his own conservatism and, at the same time, his ability to get along with his adversaries.
Bush, the son of former President George H.W. Bush and the brother of former President George W. Bush, is causing a stir in the GOP with comments he made Monday at Bloomberg View in Manhattan.
"Ronald Reagan would have, based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground similar to my dad, they would have had a hard time if you define the Republican Party—and I don't—as having an orthodoxy that doesn't allow for disagreement." He added: "Back to my dad's time or Ronald Reagan's time, they got a lot of stuff done with a lot of bipartisan support that right now would be difficult to imagine happening."
Bush said the Democratic party is locked into its own ideological orthodoxy, on the left.
Jeb Bush has endorsed Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, for president.
But he urged Romney to take a less-harsh approach that won't alienate Hispanics. "Don't just talk about Hispanics and say immediately we must have controlled borders," Bush said. "It's kind of insulting when you think about it. Chang the tone would be the first thing. Second, on immigration, I think we need to have a broader approach." He also said, "I do feel a little out of step with my party on this."
But former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who recently dropped out of the GOP presidential race, disagreed with Bush. "I think there's plenty of room in the Republican party for a wide range of candidates," Gingrich told CNN.
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook and Twitter.