As an added plus to the usual Shelby County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner, some ticket purchasers were able to attend a preview reception. A room off to the side of the converted banquet hall at the Racquet Club housed a stage with microphones and a seated area for guests.
This year three legislators took the podium and answered questions posed by Party host Jane Pierotti. They were Tom Cotton, featured guest and congressman hoping to oust Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor for his Senate seat; Tennessee Republican Congressman Stephen Fincher; and Mark Norris, State Senate Majority leader deemed the most powerful elected official in Tennessee.
Pierotti began by talking about Bob Dylan. She recounted how, as a young musician, he appeared at a concert with an electric guitar, outraging others by using that relatively new instrument. But, as he said, the times they are achangin’ and she wondered if the three elected officials shared that belief. “We have the same opportunity in the Republican party (to recognize this change). Some Americans don’t want government anymore. They want an ATM machine,” she said. “The only thing growing is government. We can position ourselves as the solution,” she said.
Pierotti then began asking the three questions.
To Fincher, she asked “how big a role will Obamacare play in elections this year?” Fincher believes a big one. “People will realize that this is not what is was sold as,” he said. Fincher expects more pain is down the road for Americans and this will reinforce the Republican stance that Obamacare is a bad deal.
She then asked Cotton, “How are you going to beat that incumbent Democrat?”
“Obamacare is central,” the Arkansan said, “and we will beat him. Obamacare is corrupt and built on a foundation of lies. Working families are realizing it. Obama pushed it beyond his 2012 election because of that. Mark Pryor faces a reckoning.”
Then it was Norris’ turn. Pierotti asked him his three biggest priorities over the next 12 months.
He commented that the legislature had finished its work for the year at the earliest date in more than 50 years so “you’re safe,” he told the audience. But next year he will first tackle workforce development and education. “We need to close the skills gap in Tennessee,” he said.
Second, Norris wants to see state vet nursing homes are provided for. Third, he wants to take care of the problem of forensic evidence and rape kits that have made headlines in Memphis this year.
To Fincher she asked his first impressions of Washington DC. Coming from his farm/business background Fincher said in that real world “we expect solutions. I talked with Jeb Hensarling (Texas congressman and chair of the House Financial Services Committee) about how messed up and polarized DC is. We have to remember who we are. We are losing who we are as Americans – getting back to core common principles. We have to stand up as a party or our country is lost.”
Tomorrow more on these interviews, touching on Common Core, taxation, the Tea Party and more.