Conservative commentator Laura Ingraham praised President Donald Trump and Ronald Reagan — but also Jimmy Carter and liberal MSNBC host Rachel Maddow — when she spoke at a sold-out Forum Club of the Palm Beaches lunch on Monday.
Ingraham appeared before an audience of 750 at the Kravis Center to promote her book, Billionaire at the Barricades: The Populist Revolution from Reagan to Trump, and her upcoming Fox News show, which debuts next week at 10 p.m. on weeknights.
Many conservatives reject comparisons between Reagan’s ideological clarity, free trade advocacy and sunny demeanor and part-time Palm Beacher Trump’s wandering political history, protectionist posture and brawling style. But Ingraham says both faced hostile media and political establishments and both represent a “conservative populist movement” that appalls elites and appeals to the middle class.
“You’re going to view Trump like I viewed Reagan. You might not think it now. Watch,” said Ingraham, who graduated from high school during Reagan’s first term, to a Suncoast High School student who asked a question at the lunch.
“You’re going to look back (in) 20, 30 years and you’re going to say ‘Trump Republican.’ You’re not going to say you’re a Bush Republican, I can tell you that … I don’t see anybody else on the horizon that’s fighting for the American people like he is,” Ingraham said.
Ingraham spoke at the 2016 Republican National Convention and Trump rallies, so her defense of the president was expected. More surprising were her kind words for Carter, the former Democratic president who has been a longtime punching bag for conservatives.
Carter recently told The New York Times that the media has been harder on Trump than on any other president in his lifetime, that he hasn’t seen evidence that Russia influenced the 2016 election and that he thinks NFL players should stand during the national anthem.
“President Carter at 93 has an enormous amount of perspective and wisdom and I would say he has some pragmatism in how he’s looking at the United States now,” Ingraham said. “I thought it was so heartening to have him give an interview to The New York Times and say, and I’m paraphrasing, that in his lifetime he hasn’t seen an American president treated in the way that Donald Trump has been treated.”
During a brief question-and-answer period, Ingraham was asked if there are any people with opposing viewpoints whom she respects.
“Don’t any of you gasp when I say this, but Rachel Maddow,” said Ingraham, drawing a few gasps anyways.
“She puts on a nightly show that she writes, she believes it, she’s pushing for the agenda for America that she thinks is the right agenda. And she’s fighting every night,” said Ingraham. “I respect the fact that she’s out there fighting.”