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Republican Presidential Hopefuls at Lincoln Dinner

Photo by John Pemble

A sellout crowd of 1,300 activists from forty of Iowa’s ninety-nine counties turned out for the Republican Party of Iowa’s annual Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines.  Eleven declared or potential Republican presidential candidates for President were each given ten minutes to speak.  David Meyer, a small business owner from Altoona, says the field for the Republican nomination for president is wide open. “We came specifically to hear them all, because there is not currently a name that leaps to the top of the page,” says Meyer.

Credit Photo by John Pemble
Although Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is not a declared presidential candidate for the Republican party, he is one of many present and prospective politicians for the ticket speaking at the Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa.

One by one, the candidates gave full-throated conservative speeches, criticizing President  Obama for negotiating with Iran and denouncing the likely Democratic nominee Secretary Hillary Clinton. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush started on a personal note.  “Many of you all know me as George and Barbara’s boy for which I’m proud,” says Bush. “Some of you may know that ‘W’ is my brother… I’m proud of that too, whether people don’t like that or not, they’re just gonna have to get used to it.”

Credit Photo by John Pemble
Declared Republican presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul speaking at the Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa.

Last week Bush was criticized for waffling on whether the U.S. should have gone to war with Iraq, which Kentucky Senator Rand Paul made a reference.  “The question was asked of one of our candidates this week, was the Iraq war a good idea,” says Paul.  “Would you do it again? It’s a valid question.”

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who is favored in some Iowa polls, listed his conservative accomplishments.  “We defunded Planned Parenthood and passed pro life legislation, we passed concealed carry and castle doctrine to protect ourselves, our family, our loved ones, and our property, “ says Walker. “And I’m proud to say in Wisconsin now the supreme court has allowed us to go forward to say that it is safe to vote, but hard to cheat.  It’s easy to vote, and hard to cheat. We require a photo ID to vote in the state of Wisconsin now.”


Seventh to speak was South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, whose speech had a lighter tone.  “The more you drink, the better I’ll sound, so keep drinking,” says Graham.  Graham fully supports President George W. Bush’s overthrow of Saddam Hussein. “He was gassing his own people, he was denying U.N. inspectors access to weapons sites, and I’m glad he’s dead.”


Credit Photo by John Pemble
Senator Lindsey Graham speaking at the Lincoln Dinner. This summer, the senator is expected to declare himself as a presidential candidate for the Republican party.

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina calls for a revitalized U.S. military.  “Let us rebuild the 6th fleet,” says Fiorina. “Let us rebuild the missile defense programs.  Let us conduct military exercises into the Baltic states and hast their entry into NATO.

Fiorina brought down the house with an anecdote from the campaign trail.  She says she was asked if a woman’s hormones prevent her from serving in the Oval Office.  “OK ladies this is a test.  Can anyone think of a single instance in which a man's judgment was clouded by his hormones?  Anyone?  Including in the Oval Office.”  As Fiorina went over the ten-minute limit, her mic was was cut off, but she got a standing ovation.  

Credit Photo by John Pemble
Former business executive Carly Fiorina speaks at the Lincoln Dinner as a declared Republican presidential candidate.

Kim Reem who owns a consulting company in Marion, is impressed. “I’m leaving tonight saying that Carly Fiorina hit it out of the park!”


Des Moines attorney Bill Brown sized up some of the other speakers.  “Rick Perry did a really nice job, a lot more energy that I’ve seen him before,” says Brown.  “Carly Fiorina is very impressive.  I don't think Ben Carson's going to go the distance.  My only issue is I think that Donald Trump is a joke in this.”