Greetings and welcome to TheIowaRepublican.com’s live blog of the RPI Lincoln Dinner, featuring Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. We are at the Hotel at Kirkwood in Cedar Rapids. There is a big crowd here. It looks like more than 500 seats are set up for the event.
C-SPAN is carrying the event live, or you can follow along here on TIR for all the updates and my own unique take on the event. On my way into the ballroom, I noticed U.S. Senate candidate Matt Whitaker is here. He said he drove up with Sen. Brad Zaun and Sen. Jack Whitver. Iowa Public Health Director Mariannette MIller-Meeks is on hand. She is considering making another bid for Congress in the 2nd District.
Senator Chuck Grassley and Congressman Steve King are the other featured speakers tonight.
Hit “REFRESH” often on your browser to keep up to date with all the happenings.
6:31pm Folks are already chowing down on their meal. This is a very nice hotel. Much more upscale than RPI’s last dinner, held at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. There are a ton of younger faces in the audience. Lots of media. A fair amount of party regulars, as well.
6:34 pm – BTW, Governor Branstad will announce our new State Auditor on Monday, replacing the Vauditor. Dave Vaudt did an awesome job. He will be hard to replace. I’ve been a little out of the loop today, so I haven’t heard whisperings about who it is. I’ll try to do some digging while I’m here. My clandestine, ubiquitous sources need to get to work…
6:43 pm – Just chatted with Jim Felker, a long activist here and military veteran. He was active in the 2010 campaigns for local and statewide Republicans. Good guy. So, it looks like this was not just a Rand/Ron Paul type event here. Mainstream Republicans are also in attendance.
6:48 pm – I’m checking sources. Might be able to tell you who the new state auditor is soon. We’ll see… In other Iowa GOP news, Des Moines attorney Mark Weinhardt, a former prosecutor, has been appointed as the special investigator in the Iowa Senate ethics case involving Kent Sorenson.
6:49 pm – The photographer/videographer platform is full. Local TV, CSPAN, Des Moines stations are all here. Getting crowded.
6:52 pm – Meals are coming out now. It is herb crusted chicken with creamy parmesan and baked ziti. Yum. Sadly, no soup for you. Or me, that is. They’ve already had salads and soup is on the table. Along with brownies. RPI definitely went upscale for Rand’s visit.
6:56 pm – We’re approaching tip-off time. Supposed to start at 7pm. Secretary of State Matt Schultz is also in attendance here.
6:58 pm – Senator Paul just entered the room, trailed by Drew Ivers and RPI Chairman A.J. Spiker. Very quietly sauntered in to little fanfare. He’s now chatting with Secretary of State Schultz and the photographers are snapping away. We’re going to get started momentarily.
7:01 pm – Game time. Should start soon. Other dignitaries include former state Rep. Rod Roberts, who is also considering running for the U.S. Senate. State Sen. Mark Chelgren, aka Chicken Man, is also on hand.
7:02 pm – Senator Grassley now working the room a bit. RPI Co-Chair basically just ordered the press to go to their seats so they could get started.
7:08 pm – And we’re off. SCC member Mark Doland did the opening prayer. National Committeewoman Tamara Scott did the pledge. David Fischer is the emcee. He noted the decision to move this event to eastern Iowa, which got a round of applause.
7:09 pm – Fischer says “dozens of press” here from all over the country. The room is definitely crowded.
7:10 pm – Fischer introduces A.J. Spiker as “master of ceremonies”.
7:11 pm – Spiker mentioning some of the dignataries. Schultz, former RPI Chair Ray Hoffman, former RPI Chair Kayne Robinson, RNC Committeeman Steve Scheffler, Committeewoman Tamara Scott, Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Cornett… He mentioned Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson, who literally got a smattering of applause. Not even a polite golf clap.
7:12 pm – SCC members Cushman, Krebsbach, Kabitzke, Steenhoek, Kurtinitis and Bob Anderson are here, along with the aforementioned Mark Doland. State Senator Joni Ernst is also here. I spotted her earlier and forget to mention her. Joni is likely running for U.S. Senate as well. Also mentioned was state college Republican chairman John Kaufmann, brother of state Rep. Bobby Kaufmann and son of former state Rep. Jeff Kaufmann.
7:15 pm – Spiker talking about the need of the party to stand for life, marriage and the Second Amendment, and Republicans will win by standing on those principles, as they did in 2010. Spiker now introducing Cong. King.
7:16 pm – BIG ovation for Cong. King.
7:17 pm -King talking about Iowa’s First in the Nation status. Some idiot yelled “Rand Paul”.
7:18 pm – King says the person who has done the most for Iowa’s First in the Nation status is… RICK SANTORUM. Wow. He got applause for that line, but I bet it pissed off a few people too.
7:19 pm – King said that because Santorum toured all 99 counties, held 250,000 town halls, or so. I added the three extra zeroes.
7:20 pm – King is talking about his
favorite least favorite topic, Obamacare.
7:21 pm – King is talking about the illegal immigration bill the “gang of eight” is proposing in Congress. He says it gives amnesty to all the illegal immigrants that are currently here. “This bill destroys the rule of law and forever produces contempt for the rule of law.”
7:22 pm – King is noting he couldn’t take time away from fighting against Obamacare and amnesty to run for the U.S. Senate. Now he’s quoting Reagan. Drink.
7;23 pm – I am wondering how many references to Abraham Lincoln we will hear tonight, since this is the Lincoln Dinner, and Rand Paul’s father thinks was Lincoln did was merely a way to seize power.
7;24 pm – A pile of dishes just dropped. King didn’t miss a beat. He was talking about being dedicated to continuing the fight.. “I’ll pick up the dishes if I have to,” King joked. …
7:25 pm -King now asking what sense it made to keep electing Tom Harkin, as he cancelled out Sen. Chuck Grassley’s vote. King wrapping up now. As usual, very well-received speech.
7:26 pm – Spiker back at the podium now. He has the vocal enthusiasm of Ben Stein. “Bueller… Bueller…”
7:27 pm – Spiker: “I have been thrilled to be chairman of the party with Senator Grassley as my senator…” Notes how eager and happy he is to help the party whenever asked.
7:28 pm – Almost a hug between Spiker and Grassley. HUGE standing ovation for the good senator.
7:29 pm – Grassley thanks Rand Paul for standing on his principles and notes the 13-hour filibuster, to big applause.
7:30 pm – Grassley calls the open U.S. Senate seat a “once in a lifetime generational opportunity”. Says we have two Republicans representing Iowa in the U.S. Senate only four times in history. Grassley says he will help in any he can.
7:31 pm – Grassley: “This president added $6 trillion to our national debt… Washington is long, long overdue to get it’s fiscal house in order .Getting rid of a liberal senator and replacing with a Republican senator will go a long, long ways toward doing that.”
7:32 pm – Grassley says the sequester came from the White House. “Now they don’t want to own it…”
7:33 pm – Grassley refers to Democrata calling the implementation of Obamacare “a trainwreck”, noting Max Baucus in particular.
7:34 pm – Grassley says he found out the hard way he can’t trust President Obama.
7:35 pm – Refers to a conversation they had in 2009, when Grassley told him NO, he would not crossover to help him get two or three GOP votes. “I used to calls from him, even on my cell phone. He hasn’t call me once since then.” (crowd laughs). “And do I care? No, I don’t care.” (more laughs)
7:36 pm – Grassley: “Do you want an elected representative of the people, or some faceless bureaucrat? That’s the difference between Republicans and Democrats. He notes that Democrats think they know what’s better for you than you do.
7:37 pm – Grassley says they made a mistake in 1986 in granting amnesty without securing the border. They thought they were, but didn’t. He also says we need to simplify the tax code.
7:38 pm -Grassley said it’s time to hold the administration accountable for Benghazi. HUGE cheers and a half standing ovation for that.
7:39 pm – Grassley: “We need to keep Washington’s nose out of our classroom… No Common Core.” (more big applause) Grassley now joking he’s going to skip a paragraph and go to the end. “They’re going to charge me $100 for every moment I go over…” (laughs)
7:40 pm – Grassley says a vote in the senate is worth four in the U.S. House. Now going back to the necessity to elect a Republican U.S. Senator in 2014. Got another huge standing ovation. Chairman Spiker said give him another round of applause. Everyone stood… Grassley stood up on his chair to thank the crowd. Dude is still spry.
7:42 pm – Spiker is now introducing Rand Paul. They’re moving along quickly here. That’s a good thing. The Reagan Dinner in October dragged on for WAY too long.
7:44 pm – Rand Paul introduced to another BIG ovation. “I knew your senator was conservative, but I didn’t know how funny he is. He’s got another career doing stand up….”
7:45 pm – Paul grabbed the microphone and came out from behind the podium. He mentions the Federal Reserve, and the Paulistinians booed. Drink.
7:46 pm – “I know you’ve heard some bad things about Obamacare…Your government just wants to take care of you… They don’t think you’re smart enough… ” He’s talking about new regulations in Obamacare, including injuries from a macaw or a turtle… walking into a lamppost… injuries sustained from burning water skis… Pretty funny stuff.
7:48 pm – All the TV people are freaking out back here. Apparently Rand messed up their audio feed by moving away from the podium.
7:49 pm – Paul: “I think we’re winning the public relations battle on the sequester…” Mentions the White House tours.. “The same week he closes those down, he finds $250 billion to send to Egypt… He’s got all that money but he can’t keep the White House open?” (applause)
7:50 pm – Paul: “$3.8 trillion government and you can find things to cut w/o cutting the airtraffic controllers…meat inspectors…” He notes the sequester only cuts the rate of spending. It’s not actual cuts.
7:51 pm – Paul says he has ideas for things to cut: A study to find out if a snake will bit a squirrel that’s not wagging it’s tail. They couldn’t find a real squirrel to volunteer, so they built a robotic one… Spent $3 million last year on turtle tunnels… $1.8 million developing roll-up beef jerky…
7:53 pm – Paul: “It is amazing the amount of waste. You cannot imagine the amount of waste there is in government…”
7:54 pm – Paul talking about questions for Hillary for Benghazi: “First question: Where in the hell were the Marines?”
7:55 pm – Paul: “There’s no excuse in the six months leading up to this…are asking for more help… It is inexcusable, it’s a dereliction of duty and it should preclude her from holding higher office.” SCORE. Standing ovation for that one.
7:56 pm – Rand Paul is giving a great speech here. Funny, hard hitting and informative. Hitting three key elements of any good political speech.
7:57 pm – Paul notes we spent $80 million to build an embassy in Afghanistan, only to later find out it was surrounded by balconies that look down on the building and would be a huge security risk.
7:58 pm – Paul: “What seals the deal is she said she didn’t read the cables… I don’t expect you to read all the cables from Estonia…but I do expect you to rid cables from Libya…(places that are security risks). That’s not an exact quote. I need to learn to type 120 words per minute. It was a good line that earned applause.
7:59 pm – Paul says we have to fix the work visa problem. “I am in favor of immigration reform.”
8:00 pm – Says he agrees with Sen. Grassley and Cong. King that we were wrong in 1986. He has an amendment called “Trust but Verify” (on old Reagan line. Drink.)
8:01 pm – Paul: “I don’t wanna just say I’m voting No and not voting for it…”.. “We need to attrack the Latino vote. We need to attract the African-American vote… We need to treat immigrants with dignity and respect.” He noted we need to change the way we talk about this.
8:02 pm – Paul says we need to reach out to Latinos and the African-American community. Thinks every Republican meeting should include something about the “amazing history” of the Republican Party.
8:03 pm – Paul is noting his speech at Howard University, which was criticized by some. Notes efforts Republicans did to end Jim Crow.
8:04 pm – Notes Hispanics are open to us on “traditional issues”, like marriage.
8:05 pm – “We need the passion of Patrick Henry: Give me liberty or give me death.” And he’s quoting the Proclaimers song: “I will walk 500 miles….” We need to be the party that’s walking over the hill…
8:06 pm – And with that, he’s done. Big standing ovation. A.J. Spiker thanks him and says, “And I am sure we’ll be seeing you more in the future.”
8:07 pm – Spiker is echoing Sen. Paul’s comments about sharing Republicans’ history, like playing the key role in giving women the right to vote. I’m still waiting for someone to mention Abraham Lincoln. Apparently not gonna happen.
8:08 pm – And, we’re done. Quick event. In the immortal words of DDP, “That’s a good thing.” It lasted almost an hour exactly.
8:09 pm – Great event. All three speeches were excellent, the right time and tone. Kudos to RPI for a good event overall. Very well done. I will post videos of the three speeches and offer more thoughts on Monday.
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