Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton headlined the Polk County GOP’s Third Annual Robb Kelley Club Dinner Thursday evening. Financially, the event was an enormous success. More than 500 people attended and the county party raised approximately $75,000.
“I’m thrilled,” said Polk GOP Chairman Kevin McLaughlin. “The big turnout is a testament to the organization and execution skills of our Polk County Republican team and an indication of just how well we can do when we call pull together.”
Despite having many elected officials in attendance, the only one who addressed the crowd was Congressman Tom Latham. The evening clearly centered around John Bolton. He endorsed Mitt Romney on January 11 and wasted little time encouraging the crowd to get behind the presumptive GOP nominee.
“Even if you’re not at this moment an enthusiastic supporter of Governor Romney, will you please get yourself together in the next three or four months,” Bolton implored, as many people applauded. “He may not have been the perfect candidate in the primary, but consider what you’re going to look at on the ballot on November 6. This is not a hard decision.”
Bolton spoke just a few miles away from where President Obama addressed Iowans earlier in the evening. The former U.N. ambassador repeatedly jabbed at Obama’s foreign policy and view of the world. He said Mitt Romney would bring a Reaganesque foreign policy back to the Oval Office, then he contrasted Reagan’s view of America with President Obama’s.
“The first thing that stands out about Ronald Reagan was he was proud to be an American. That’s the kind of president we need,” Bolton said. “Barack Obama, I’ve called him our first post-American president. He’s beyond all that patriotism stuff and that parochialism. He’s a citizen of the world. He’s already told us that.”
John Bolton briefly flirted with the idea of running for president last year. He wanted to make sure national security was a key issue in the race. Thursday night, Bolton provided a chilling view of the dangers our country still faces. The former ambassador focused heavily on Iran, North Korea, Syria and Venezuela and pointed out the entangling alliances those countries have with each other. Then he ripped President Obama’s handling of those alliances.
“It’s not a defense policy to hope your adversary’s missiles blow up in mid-flight. That’s apparently the Obama administration’s answer to missile defense,” Bolton said.
Obama’s crowning achievement in foreign policy is the killing of Osama Bin Laden. The Democrats are making that one of the crucial pieces of their campaign. Bolton smacked their pretentiousness by pointing out the decision to kill Bin Laden was not a difficult one.
“Killing Osama Bin Laden was a great moment for American military intelligence and it’s something we could all applaud. He made the right decision,” Bolton said as the crowd clapped. “But it’s the same decision that 99.99% of the rest of the American people would have made.”
The former U.N. ambassador wrapped up the evening by ridiculing President Obama’s knack for quoting Republican presidents, such as Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. “Let’s be clear. President Obama, you are no Ronald Reagan,” Bolton said. “What we need is to give Governor Romney the opportunity to end this policy of drift and decline and defeatism. Get America back in the position it needs to be in the world for our own safety and our own prosperity here at home.”
The crowd gave Bolton a rousing standing ovation when he concluded his 30-minute speech. Polk GOP Chairman Kevin McLaughlin was among those who were impressed.
“Bolton is insightful, forceful and correct,” McLaughlin said. “He knows all of our weaknesses, and the risks we face and how to turn our situation around from the disaster we face for more secure and free lives as individuals and Americans.”
Thoughts and Observations of the Evening
Bolton’s Speech: He’s not the most dynamic speaker, but I think the crowd really enjoyed listening to him. I certainly did. Bolton’s knowledge of foreign policy is immense. Our country is fortunate we have someone like him who still pays attentions to the dangers we face. Several people told me afterwards they were impressed.
The Crowd: It is amazing how much better the Polk GOP fundraiser was than a similar event staged by the Republican Party of Iowa a few weeks ago. The county party was able to lure a crowd twice as big and they garnered a large profit. RPI barely broke even with their Lincoln Dinner.
Romney Stickers: The Romney campaign did a good job putting lapel stickers on the attendees. Most of the people there were wearing one, including….National Committeeman Steve Scheffler.
The Dignitaries: There were many, ranging from former Governor Bob Ray to former RPI Chairman Matt Strawn. When they were introduced to the crowd, Strawn garnered the loudest and longest applause of the dignitaries who did not speak. By far.
The Food: Eh. Salad, chicken, mashed potatoes and carrots. The chicken was a little dry. The strawberry cheesecake for dessert was delicious, though. It took tremendous willpower to restrain myself from grabbing a second one.
The Atmosphere: Very lively. Everyone seemed in good spirits during the reception. You could not walk three feet without running into an elected official, candidate, or prominent Republican activist. I’ll quit harping on the RPI dinner from a few weeks ago and instead compare it to last year’s Robb Kelley Club Dinner, when Michele Bachmann no-showed. That event was a debacle. This was a 180 degrees turnaround.
Schmoozing with Bolton: Rarely do nationally known politicians mingle with the crowd at events like this. Bolton is the exception. He did a fantastic job working the room before the dinner. Bolton was very friendly, shaking hands and posing for pictures with many people.
Overall: It was a great night for the Polk County GOP.
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