Local GOP Lincoln Day Dinner fundraiser attracts record crowd
By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette
Monday, Feb 11, 2013 – Saturday’s Lincoln Day Dinner set an all-time high in attendance for several reasons.
Building on the success from earlier years, organizers created an impressive line-up of guests and guest speakers, including U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The crowd included a sizable number of area residents who had never attended the annual dinners.
McConnell, who has drawn criticism from members of his own party over the last-minute fiscal cliff deal, explained how those negotiations unfolded, noting that all the Obama Administration had to do to win was nothing and everyone’s taxes would have increased.
“Doing nothing was not an option,” he said.
It was clear from McConnell’s remarks that he understands where his critics are coming from, and the fact he will face re-election challenges — certainly from the Democratic party, but possibly from within his own as well.
“I don’t take my position for granted,” McConnell said. “I feel no sense of entitlement to the position I hold representing you.”
In additional to Rep. Guthrie, additional local elected officials in attendance included Rep. David Floyd, state Sen. Jimmy Higdon, magistrate Jeff Lear and Bardstown City Councilman John Royalty. A field representative for Sen. Rand Paul spoke briefly and introduced a video greeting Paul recorded earlier. Paul had a scheduling conflict but promised to make Nelson County’s dinner a priority next year.
Mandy Connell, WHAS radio talk show host, was the keynote speaker who gave her views on the future of the Republican party.
“The future of the Republican party should not be what the left-wing talking heads say it should be,” she said. “If a registered Democrat is trying to tell you what need to do with the party, very politely tell them they need to tell them to pound sand and worry about their own.”
In regard to the last election cycle, Connell said she was disappointed in Romney’s defeat but acknowledged that failure offers opportunities to learn and improve.
The Republican Party “lost its way long ago when it comes to fiscal responsibility and spending,” she said. What she believes is happening now is a return to a mindset that places what is best for the country above what is best for the political party.
She said both Democrats and Republicans want what is best for the country. “Where we disagree is what’s best for the country, and its a big disagreement.”
The Founding Fathers built our system of government to be conflicted by design, she said. “If you really look at it, they gummed up the works from the very beginning,” she said. “They made it difficult to get anything done, and its frustrating when your team gets the short end of the stick.”
Unlimited debt and out-of-control spending are critical issues facing the country, she said.
Connell noted major shifts in our culture regarding self-reliance and personal responsibility.
“What we have now is that there is no shame in taking money that you did not earn from somebody else,” she said. “In fact, its celebrated in this country.”
The GOP’s message that promotes self-sufficiency, hard work and making good decisions doesn’t resonate with voters. “When you have a choice between hard work and Santa Claus, Santa Claus is going to win.”
Connell said she remains optimistic about the Republican Party and the country.
The principles the Republican Party stands on are the principles that made this country great, she said.
“I haven’t lost my confidence in the American spirit,” she said. “Ultimately people still believe in the American Dream.”