But they should be braver.
How about holding their next debate at the Nixon Library? And the one after that at the Hoover Library.
Democrats could hold theirs at the Carter Library.
Of course, I am in fantasyland. Political parties are only interested in the libraries of presidents who succeeded. No one wants to "get right" with Nixon, Hoover, or Carter. And I would bet that there will never be a Republican Party debate held at the future George W. Bush Library. No one will want to "get right" with George W. Bush.
Getting right with former (and usually dead) presidents is an old American tradition. The first president pols wanted to get right with was Andrew Jackson. Two successors, Martin van Buren and James K. Polk, may be said to have owed their election in part to their ability to associate themselves with Jackson. Polk was even known as Young Hickory.
David Donald, in perhaps his most famous essay, "Getting Right with Lincoln," showed the remarkable ways in which Radical Republicans used Lincoln to advance their agenda after his assassination. While he was alive they barely tolerated him. Wendell Phillips, the fiery abolitionist, called Lincoln "a first-rate second-rate man." But when he died they used the occasion of his three-week funeral to adopt him as their own and blame Democrats for his murder.
For the next half century Republicans of all stripes, radical, conservative and in-between, sought Lincoln's endorsement, as Donald aptly put it, in their runs for the White House. A strange assortment of pols including McKinley, Harding and Coolidge, whose resemblance to Lincoln was hard to fathom, claimed possession of the Springfield hero as a partisan right.
Democrats, whose political base was the Solid South, did not contest the Republicans' ownership of Lincoln. The Great Emancipator was political poison to too many of their natural consituents. So Lincoln remained a partisan symbol well into the twentieth century. Not until Woodrow Wilson, the first Southerner elected president since the Civil War, did a Democrat celebrate Lincoln and attempt to borrow against his prestige. That was more than half a century after Lincoln's death.
Today Lincoln is everybody's hero. One day Ronald Reagan will be too.