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Lincoln Day Dinner: Republicans restate their mission

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Paul, Massie, Guthrie headline annual event

By Lisa King

Rousing political speeches flowed as thick and fast as the food Saturday night, when  more than 300 Republicans turned out for the Lincoln Day Dinner at Claudia Sanders’ Dinner House.

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Guest speakers U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Bowling Green) and U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Vanceburg), joined by local lawmakers state Rep. Brad Montell (R-Shelbyville) and state Sen. Paul Hornback (R-Shelbyville), dished about state pension reform, gun control, foreign aid, the legalization of hemp and debt.

The plot lines were familiar and the camaraderie unmistakable as a broad number of leaders gathered for their annual party celebration and fundraiser.

Paul said that he was not opposed to legalizing the growing of hemp for farmers, something that Massie, who spoke last, reiterated, applauding Hornback’s efforts in sponsoring the bill that cleared the Senate last week.

 “I want to thank Paul Hornback to pushing this at the state level,” Massie said.
Massie is co-sponsoring a bill, H.R. 1831, known as the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, which would require the federal government to respect state laws allowing industrial hemp to be grown.  Paul and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) have sponsored similar legislation in the Senate.

“If we take a wait-and-see attitude, all Kentucky farmers are going to lose,” Massie said.

He also has been very vocal about gun control in recent appearances and addressed that again Saturday night.

“It makes me sick to my stomach,” he said, referring to President Barack Obama’s recent program aimed at curbing gun violence that consisted of 23 executive actions targeted at tightening controls of the sale and distribution of guns and ammunition.

“I can let you how I’m going to vote,” he said. “I’m going to vote no to gun control, because the Second Amendment is not about hunting or sports shooting, it’s about self defense.”

Paul told the crowd that he thought Republicans needed to broaden their horizons.

“If we want to grow as a party, we have to take our message to everyone, not just the middle and upper classes,” he said. “We need to reach the blue-collar workers and senior citizens and convince them that big government is not their friend. We will thrive again when we believe in ourselves.”

About foreign policy, Paul said that he didn’t think the United States should bestow foreign aid on countries that weren’t allies.

“We shouldn’t be sending money to people who hate us, countries where they’re going around burning our flag and chanting ‘death to America,’” he said.

Paul said a big issue with him was the federal budget cuts that propose to reduce spending by $1.2 trillion during a 10-year period.

“What I am in favor of is the penny plan, that cuts one percent a year,” he said.

On the subject of debt, Guthrie mentioned a speech that the nation’s first president, George Washington, made when he left office.

“He said, ‘Don’t put on another generation what this generation is unwilling to bear,’” he said. “This crisis will continue. It’s self evident we can’t go forward in this direction. The most important thing we can do for our children and our grandchildren is don’t give them debt – give them a future.”

Hornback drew applause with his observation that the annual legislative session was “a waste of time and money.”

“Last week was really frustrating,” he said. “I don’t think the House will pass the pension reform, or the tax reform or the redistricting this session. I was wondering why we were there at all and thinking it was just a big waste of the taxpayers’ money.”

Shelby County Republican Party Chair Jennifer Decker, also Paul’s field representative, read a long list of noted Republicans who were present, including  Louisville Metro Council member Jerry Miller and Jefferson County Republican Party Chair Shelly May, as well as Henry County Judge-Executive Bill Karrer, Campbellsburg Mayor Rex Morgan, and magistrates of several surrounding counties.

Shelby County Republicans included Shelby County Judge-Executive Rob Rothenburger, Deputy Judge-Executive Rusty Newton, Commonwealth Attorney Laura Donna, Magistrates Michael Riggs and Bill Hedges and Circuit Clerk Lowry Miller, as well as field representatives for several others, including Mike Biagi for Mitch McConnell and Steve Miller for Guthrie.

“I am just amazed at how many Republican dignitaries are here,” she said, glancing around the crowded room.