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TJ: You mentioned that Reagan was a political outsider whom people didn’t expect to succeed. Do you think being viewed as an outsider helped him during his presidency?

Probably. People certainly saw Reagan as someone who came from outside the political class, although by the time he became president this was no longer true, since he’d been governor of California — the largest, richest state — for eight years, and he was thoroughly established as a political operator on the American scene. He was already an “in” figure. Now this is not true of Trump, but I suspect that Trump will get on pretty well, particularly on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and a large part of the Midwest.

What was the reaction to Reagan’s election in Europe at the time?

PJ: A lot of Europeans mistakenly thought that Reagan was not an experienced politician and therefore they were surprised by the skill and effectiveness with which he established himself. They took a certain length of time to adjust to this, though people with inside knowledge of American politics were not at all surprised — they knew that Reagan was an old professional.

Our global situation, many would say, is now extremely unpredictable. What kind of advice would Reagan have for the new “leader of the free world?”

PJ: I think Reagan would tell Trump: “You must use all the professional skills that you have at your disposal, but at the same time be yourself. Try to project your character through your words and actions, in as accurate a way as you can. You’ve got a lot to give. But I think that you’re going to succeed and that is what really matters.”

TJ: Let’s talk about policy. Reagan obviously believed in lower taxation, Trump does as well to a degree, but they seem to differ in terms of free trade, Reagan more in favour, Trump more protectionist. Can we make a comparison?

I think it’s too early to say. I think that Trump may have quite a number of surprises in store for us, and therefore I would hesitate to try and guess what Trump’s policies are going to be, at any rate in detail. I wouldn’t like to do that, because I think I might be wrong, and too many in the media are already making that mistake. There will be surprises in store, but I don’t think they will be tremendous surprises, and I think most of Trump’s moves and ploys have been signalled in advance.

Do you think the special relationship between Reagan and Thatcher could be reproduced between Trump and May?

I think there are too many imponderables there. I think Mrs May is doing rather well so far and will do even better given a chance, but I don’t think we can forecast in advance how she will get on with Trump.

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January 17th, 2017
11:01 PM
"TJ: America today finds itself in a similarly precarious situation, as it was before Reagan. Massive debt, low wage growth...? It was Reagan,who started the US economy on the current slippery slope for thefigures say it all, taking the USA from a creditor to a debtor nation. In 1981, shortly after taking office, Reagan complained of "runaway deficits" that were then approaching US$80 billion, or about 2.5%GDP Within only two years, however, his policies had succeeded in enlarging the deficit to more than US$200 billion, or 6% GDP. At the end of the Reagan/Bush era it had was down to US$150 billion, still almost double what it had been under Carter. However the National Debt had climbed from US$995 billion, when Reagan took office, to $4 trillion by the end of Bush1's presidency, Under Reagan and Bush Republican Administrations it climbed as a % of GDP from 26% to 42%.

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