The claim: President Ronald Reagan disparaged Democrats, saying in 1987 that Democrats would restrict freedoms and safety.
The smiling meme has been shared on Facebook hundreds of times. It looks like the quintessential Reagan: smiling after giving a speech with American flags in the background.
The meme quotes the president from 1987, “Keep voting Democrat … One day they will restrict your freedoms, restrict your history and restrict your safety. All in the name of professional victims that don’t understand the consequences of their ignorance.”
There are two problems with this. One, a version of the meme spells the president’s name Regan; not a good start. Two, Reagan never said these words.
A fake quote
Reagan was stalwart in his support for a trickle-down economy and a libertarian view of government — going as far to say that ”Government is not the solution. Government is the problem.” He grew up a New Deal-era Democrat and said famously said, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me.”
But he didn’t say the quote in the meme.
Tom Griscom was Reagan’s communications director in 1987-88. He told USA Today by email he was not aware of any such statement or quote from Reagan during that time.
Melissa Giller has been the chief marketing officer at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute since 2001. She said it didn’t happen.
“I have access to a database where I can search all of President Reagan’s quotes,” she told USA TODAY by email. “I searched the quote multiple ways using phrases from the post, and there is absolutely zero records of him saying this. This is not a true quote.”
Separately, Snopes, the online fact checking website, also condemned the meme and quoted Michael Pinckney, an archivist at the Reagan Library, saying the quote does not appear in any of Reagan’s official speeches.
“This quote states President Reagan said this in 1987,” Pinckney told Snopes. “We have all his official speeches and I could not find this quote for that year or any other between 1981-89.”
Our rating: False
Based on our research, this claim is FALSE. There is no evidence President Ronald Reagan ever said these words. Further, it is unclear who may have uttered those words as a google search of the phrase brings up only the Reagan meme.
Our fact-check sources:
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Ronald Reagan didn’t say Democrats would restrict freedoms