Reagan, a Republican, was the “last great president of the 20th century” who “rallied the nation and won the Cold War,” McHenry said in an interview. McHenry proposed a bill on March 2 seeking to redesign the $50 bill and substitute Reagan’s image for the likeness of the Civil War hero.
McHenry’s bill is widely opposed, according to a Marist College poll. Seventy-nine percent said the suggestion is a bad idea, compared with 12 percent who supported the plan. Nine percent said they are unsure.
Eighty-three percent of Democrats oppose the idea and more than 7 in 10 Republicans do not back the switch.
The survey of 956 U.S. residents was conducted on March 25, March 26 and March 29 and had an error margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, pollsters said.
McHenry insists the effort is “no slight against President Grant,” who was the country’s 18th president. The legislation, which has 17 co-sponsors, is unlikely to come up for a vote during this Congress, according to Parker Poling, a spokeswoman for McHenry.
McHenry’s legislation coincides with plans to celebrate Reagan’s 100th birthday next year. According to John Heubusch, the executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, the plans include a Reagan-themed float in the New Year’s Day Rose Parade in Pasadena, California, the unveiling of a $15 million revamped museum at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, a wreath-laying ceremony at the president’s gravesite with a 21-gun salute and the introduction of a Reagan centennial stamp.
“It sounds terribly vulgar,” said Ross Baker, a professor of political science at Rutgers University. “He’s not Mickey Mouse, he’s not some claymation avatar, he was a human being and a president.”
Reagan died in 2004 at the age of 93.