Spartanburg GOP Event A Success
May 2, 2003
Although the Dixie Chicks controversy dominated the news Thursday night, another great event was taking place simultaneously in Spartanburg, SC.
An occasion dubbed “An Evening with the Republican Stars” featured many local, state and national GOP officeholders and 2004 candidates at the Spartanburg County Republican Party Bronze Elephant. There were around 250 local party activists and guests attending the event that took place at the Carolina Country Club.
There were 10 high quality items in a silent auction held throughout the evening to help raise money for the party. These items included pictures of President Bush, Laura Bush, former President Bush, Ronald Reagan, the history of the golf ball and a picture of five presidents, just to name a few. All ten items in the auction were sold.
I had several interesting observations I would like to share with you about this event.
Of the 250 people who attended, there was only one African-American couple. Nevertheless, there was an eclectic group of enthusiastic young, old faithful and everything in between to support the Republican cause. In fact, I sat next to a representation from both ends of the spectrum at my dinner table.
On my left was a vibrant college student from USCS who is also a member of the Young Republicans. He is looking to become more active in the political process after he finishes school. On my right was a couple that has been active in the Republican Party in Spartanburg since my parents were sucking their thumbs! I was fascinated by the stories the wise man shared about how the Democratic Party used to be as dominate in South Carolina as the Republican Party is today. His gentle smile said it all.
In one of the more interesting parts of my evening, I shook hands with several in attendance, including many of the politicians who came. I was especially interested in speaking with one Republican officeholder in particular: state Senator John Hawkins.
As I was making my way around shaking hands with other people, I noticed that Sen. Hawkins was moving AWAY from me. Was he trying to avoid confrontation with me because of the recent article I wrote about him on CommonVoice? I would think not. But, of course, if what I wrote about him in that article was true, then I can understand why he would be.
Finally, I was standing behind someone who was speaking to him. I waited for a few moments until the person finished. As soon as I went to shake Sen. Hawkins’ hand, he turned his back to me. I tapped him on the shoulder and he slowly turned around to look at me with a scowl on his face. If he bit his bottom lip any harder, then it would have started bleeding.
The conversation with him was extremely curt. He asked why I changed my hair color. I told him I do it every summer. He asked why. I said because I like it that way. The entire time we talked Hawkins shook his head incredulously and kept a tight chin as if he wanted to throw me against a wall. Of course, I enjoyed watching him squirm. It was great seeing his paranoia continue! :-~
After the delicious dinner was served, the program began. I noticed that many of the special guests who were slated to be there were conspicuously absent, including "Dick Harpo," a comedic parody of outgoing South Carolina Democrat Party Chairman, Dick Harpootlian. Chairman Rick Beltram announced that since the Congressional session let out late in Washington, that the others would be arriving soon. Republican Party Chairmen from the four surrounding counties were in attendance. Beltram also told the story that when he attempted to confirm some last minute details with Sen. Chambliss’ staff he accidentally called Sen. Clinton instead. He said he sat stunned for two hours!
State Senate candidate Lee Bright gave some stirring remarks about our troops and President Bush. Spartanburg County Young Republicans President Josh Marthers read a letter written by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), who was unable to attend the event. In the letter, Graham thanked Spartanburg Republicans for being instrumental in the victories of the 2002 elections. He complimented the featured speaker, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), and pushed his commitment to lowering taxes and approving judicial nominees. Sen. Graham is in New York this week and will be appearing on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephonopolus” on Sunday morning. He will deliver the Republican response to this weekend’s Democratic presidential debate in Columbia, SC.
WORD radio personality and CommonVoice contributing writer Ralph Bristol provided some "Hillary"-ous entertainment for Republicans to enjoy. Rehashing one of his Daily Dispatch articles (to subscribe, go to www.ralphbristol.com) from earlier this week, Ralph blasted Hillary Clinton and her remarks in Connecticut (pronounced by Ralph as Connect-Ti-Cut) about Republicans being like snake oil salesmen. He brought the house down when he did an AWFUL impression of Hillary doing a commercial for Democrats next year. It was typical Ralph Bristol, part showman and part truth advocate.
Several state elected officials spoke about what they have been doing since being elected. Spartanburg County’s own Secretary of State Mark Hammond spoke about his first 100 days in office and the accomplishments he has made cutting down on fraud. In fact, it became the running joke of the night by all other speakers afterward to ask Hammond if he had any Tommy Hilfiger merchandise in the trunk of his car. Lt. Governor Andre Bauer spoke about the need for lower taxes and that communities can and should take care of their own problems without government interference.
Although Congressmen Gresham Barrett and Joe Wilson were supposed to be a part of the festivities, both were unable to make it. But, 4th District Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Jim DeMint was there to introduce the keynote speaker. Rick Beltram, who in addition to being Chairman of the Spartanburg GOP is also a small business owner, called DeMint “a friend of mine” for his commitment to dealing with the big issues of taxes, regulation and litigation.
Congressman DeMint gave glowing remarks about Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in November. DeMint said that Chambliss was a part of the Republican Revolution that swept into the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994. He shared that there needs to be more conservatives like Chambliss and Lindsay Graham in the U.S. Senate.
Sen. Chambliss called DeMint a “dear friend” who makes him “feel so good” about the U.S. House of Representatives. Chambliss also complimented on U.S. Senate candidate Bob Inglis, who was elected to Congress in 1994 with Chambliss.
“My best buddy in the Senate is Lindsay Graham,” said Chambliss whose mobile home office is located right next to the junior senator from South Carolina.
Chambliss could not help but comment on the grassroots efforts that got him elected in Georgia. He said “we (Republicans) can be successful if we work on the grassroots level every single day.”
Chambliss said there are four key U.S. Senate races in 2004 that both he and Graham would do everything they can to win: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. He has been encouraged by the political in roads made by several of those Republicans who were elected to office in the Republican Revolution of 1994, including two governors and four senators.
Chambliss explained why he believes Republicans won so big in the November elections.
“We had a strong message…safety and security for all Americans,” he said. He said that this includes securing Social Security and once again complimented Jim DeMint by saying he has the best ideas on this issue. Chambliss also said this includes securing a strong defense. He said the Democrats have “no message” on defending America.
Speaking on taxes, Chambliss said that $350 billion in tax cuts “ain’t enough.” He said more tax cuts are needed to secure quality jobs for the unemployed. He said that the U.S. Senate should move forward with tax cuts because “every single taxpayer should get tax relief.”
Additionally, the filibuster conducted by the Democrats on judicial nominees such as Miguel Estrada and Priscilla Owen is “not right,” says Chambliss. In fact, he said that Senate Republicans will be pursuing legal action against Senate Democrats for illegally blocking these nominations.
Speaking on the war on terrorism, Chambliss said we live in “a dangerous world.” He said it was an honor to have George W. Bush leading the way. He cautioned that the war is not over until “we root out terrorism all over the world.” He said the world is a much safer place now that Saddam Hussein has been removed from Iraq.
As for al-Quada, Chambliss reported that the #5 guy in the terrorist network was caught this week and will provide some valuable information about the whereabouts of Usama bin Laden and other members of al-Quada. Chambliss said that the “wholesale disruption” of their network would be occurring in the coming weeks. Yet, he warned that the United States could still be attacked tomorrow.
Chambliss claimed that the United States is the strongest country in the world because of its military prowess. He said that the military is not stronger because of Tom Daschle, Hillary Clinton or Ted Kennedy because they have done nothing to boost military funding.
The night ended in time for everyone to get home in time to watch President Bush’s speech on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln.
By all accounts, the Spartanburg County Republican Party Bronze Elephant event was a resounding success.