The headline attraction Friday night at the Indiana Republican Party State Convention – former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee – gave an impassioned talk to delegates about what the GOP needs to do to reclaim both houses of Congress and the presidency.
Huckabee, who's run for president, hosted talk shows and even made a ripple as a musician, drew lots of laughter and applause for his comments to an audience of about 2,000 at the Grand Wayne Center. He blended jokes – “If it were up to me, I'd trade Obama, Pelosi, Reed and Clinton for one marine in a heartbeat” – with serious political observations in a crowd-pleasing mix.
On the subject of veterans, he said, “This country is indebted to the men and women who have served in the armed forces. Give us the Senate in 2014 and the White House in 2016, and we'll guarantee our veterans will get the kind of care they deserve.”
Huckabee said that he realized on a recent trip to the Far East, that China is becoming more like the United States used to be and we're becoming more like them. “I'm not concerned that China or any other is getting strong,” he exclaimed, “I'm concerned that we're getting weak. Under the Democrat leadership, the country's position on the world scene has deteriorated greatly.”
On the subject of working hard, providing a good living and putting bread on the table, the keynoter pointed out that there's something terribly wrong when people are punished through unreasonable taxation for productivity, saving money and investing, while failure (making a bad investment and losing money) is rewarded with a “write-off.”
In closing, Huckabee listed three things that are necessary if this country wants to maintain its freedoms. “First,” he said, “is our ability to feed ourselves and not depend on others. Second is being able to fuel ourselves with the massive coal and oil reserves right beneath our feet instead of being held hostage by Middle Eastern oil sheiks. The last is our ability to defend ourselves. We shouldn't be buying weapons from other countries. We should be proud of things made in America. In other words, we should lead the world, not depend on it.”
“We can't fix everything at once, and we shouldn't worry about what has happened in the past. Politics is about patience, and if we can take control of the Senate in November and the presidency in 2016, we can show the country that our leadership can turn things around and make America strong again,” he told the crowd.
Two hours before Huckabee spoke, the convention opened rather quietly. The Fort Wayne Police Color Guard presented the colors. Christy Stutzman, wife of U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman, sang the national anthem.
Three candidates for state treasurer – Don Bates, Kelly Mitchell and Wayne Siebold – were given three minutes each to persuade delegates to chose them for the party's 2014 slate. With the same time constraints, Susan Crouch, state auditor, expressed her concern about providing more jobs for Hoosier families, continued fiscal responsibility and the need for less government, not more. Secretary of State Connie Lawson, of Hendricks County, told delegates that we can't let this country be destroyed from within and we can't let the Democrats undo all the safeguards that were put in place in the last two years to make it more difficult to cheat at the ballot box.
National Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus said, “We have a lot of work to do at the national level in order to compete. The Democrats are out there right now canvassing neighborhoods with a goal of signing up 10,000 new people a month. If we don't develop a strong infrastructure within the party, we're done. We're presently two parties under the same name. There's the mid-term party that can't lose and the presidential party that can't win. It's a matter of being a year-round party that is out there setting the pace for good government and reason. He closed saying that the Republican Party must become big and bold if it wants to save the country.”