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Reagan Foundation tells Trump to stop using ex-president’s image

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  • The Reagan Foundation has requested that Trump Make America Great Again, a Trump campaign and RNC fundraising committee, stop using President Ronald Reagan’s image. 
  • The request comes after the committee offered a commemorative coin embossed with President Donald Trump and President Ronald Reagan’s image to donors. 
  • RNC Communications Director Michael Ahrens told Forbes that the request came as a surprise because the foundation “has not objected to us using President Reagan’s likeness before.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Reagan Foundation has told the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee to stop using the image of the ex-president and conservative icon Ronald Reagan in a fundraising drive. 

The request comes after Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint RNC and Trump campaign fundraising committee, offered a set of commemorative coins, to supporters donating more than $45. They were embossed with President Ronald Reagan’s image on one side and President Donald Trump’s on the other.

The request from the foundation to cease using Reagan’s image in the fundraising drive was first reported by Washington Post columnist Karen Tumulty on Saturday. 

Reagan Foundation Chief Marketing Officer Melissa Giller confirmed the request in a statement to The Hill. 

“We own the likeness of President Reagan and they used his image for the coin without our consent. We called the RNC and asked them to cease and desist the use of Pres Reagan on the coin and they agreed,” Giller said.

The Reagan Foundation didn’t immediately respond to a request for further comment. The Trump campaign also did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

RNC Communications Director Michael Ahrens told Forbes that the request came as a surprise because the foundation “has not objected to us using President Reagan’s likeness before,” but said they “will stop emailing this fundraising solicitation as a courtesy.”

Ron Reagan

Ron Reagan attends a birthday celebration held in honor of his father, former US President Ronald Reagan, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library February 6, 2011, in Simi Valley, California.

Eric Thayer/Getty Images


Reagan is among the most popular former US presidents. A succession of Republican candidates over the years have sought to portray themselves as his successor and heaped praise on his legacy.

Trump has followed suit, naming Reagan as his favorite president in a Fox News interview shortly after taking office in January 2017, but criticizing his predecessor over his free-market trade policies. 

It’s not the first time Trump has sought political benefit from using Reagan’s image, with the president sharing a photograph of himself and Reagan taken in 1987 and a fabricated quote from Reagan praising him in a tweet last July. 

But members of the Reagan family have been scathing in their criticism of Trump. 

Ronald Reagan’s son, Ron Reagan, remarked in a January 2018 interview with the Daily Beast that his father would never have supported him, and describing him as “a traitorous president who is betraying his country.”

In an interview with Yahoo News in February, Reagan’s daughter, Patti Davis, accused Trump of endangering US democracy, and criticized the GOP for refusing to take a stand against him. 

She said that Trump’s campaign had distorted the meaning Make America Great Again, its campaign slogan coined by Reagan during his successful bid for the presidency in 1980. 

“I think it’s taken on, obviously, a completely different meaning because what it seems to mean now is ‘let’s make America white again and racist again and small-minded again,'” she said.

The Reagan Foundation’s job is, according to its website, “to complete President Reagan’s unfinished work and to preserve the timeless principles he championed.”

Reagan and his wife, Nancy, handed control over the rights to his image to the foundation in the 1990s. The 40th president died in 2004, aged 93. 

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