No, Ronald Reagan did not predict Donald Trump’s presidency. But Trump’s tweet Monday might give his followers that impression.
Trump responded to an old meme of a young Donald and then-President Reagan shaking hands in a 1987 photo, with a caption that makes Trump seem destined to lead the country — never mind that it falsely quotes the beloved (to conservatives) Republican former U.S. president.
“For the life of me, and I’ll never know how to explain it, when I met the young man, I felt like I was the one shaking hands with a president,” the caption had Reagan saying.
“Cute!” Trump responded Monday morning, though the meme was originally posted on The Reagan Battalion Twitter account in February 2017 along with a caption that read, “Dear weak Conservatives, never forget that you are no match for "we the people," and our president.” (Twitter has since taken down the Reagan Battalion account.)
The thing is Reagan never actually said he felt like he was meeting the future president of the U.S. There is no proof that the two, meeting at a “Friends of Art and Preservation in Embassies” reception in the Blue Room of the White House, had anything more than a surface-level encounter. Actually, Trump looks more excited to be in Reagan’s presence, rather than the other way around. Reagan looks like he’s smiling only to be polite, whereas Trump is leaning in hard for the handshake.
The post first appeared on Facebook in July 2016, but it was flagged as part of Facebook’s effort to combat fake news, especially the misinformation campaigns that advocated for Trump’s candidacy. The “Trump Train” Facebook group also touted that Kurt Cobain, the frontman for Nirvana, predicted in 1993 that Trump would win the 2016 election.
Joanne Drake, chief administrative officer of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, told Politifact, “He did not ever say that about Donald Trump.” Reagan’s son even said he thinks his late father would be confused by Trump’s candidacy in 2016. So no, Ronald Reagan did not predict Trump’s presidency.
Trump has a history of denouncing investigations against him as fake news, but he is quick to praise misinformation when it makes him look good.
Cover: In a Sunday, July 7, 2019 file photo, President Donald Trump speaks at Morristown Municipal Airport in Morristown, N.J. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)