Around 1,200 Republicans flocked to the Music City Center in Nashville Saturday evening for the Tennessee Republican Party’s Statesmen’s Dinner, reports The Tennessean. Keynote speaker was South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. but she and other were generally silent about the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump.
In her speech, which covered a variety of topics ranging from education and employment to last year’s shooting in Charleston that left nine dead, Haley urged the importance of listening to all citizens. Haley, who was born to Indian Sikh parents, stressed the need for tackling difficult issues such as racial discrimination to help the “new South” move forward and to invite new people into the Republican Party.
…Highlighting several controversial issues she has faced in just the last year, Haley discussed how South Carolina lawmakers passed a law requiring body cameras on police after authorities killed Walter Scott in 2015. She also focused heavily on the tragic shooting in Charleston and her decision to order the removal of the Confederate flag on the South Carolina Capitol grounds. Admitting that the decision to remove the flag was difficult, Haley said she knew it had to be done because not everyone could be comfortable with calling the statehouse their own if the flag remained.
“One of the lessons of the flag controversy is if we stop shouting and start listening, we get more accomplished,” she said. “We should all listen to each other. We will benefit from walking in someone else’s shoes.”
Although the Republican fundraiser came just over a week after Donald Trump became the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, few of the speakers at the event, which also featured addresses from Gov. Bill Haslam, U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, mentioned the real estate mogul by name.
The only real reference to Trump came when state party chairman Ryan Haynes, who kicked off the event, said he was confident the billionaire would “fire Hillary Clinton once and for all”
…While introducing Haley, Haslam took several jabs at the state’s Democrats. “About a week ago the Democrats had a dinner that was just like this; it just had a lot fewer people,” Haslam said, taking issue with claims from Democrats who have said the state is not accomplishing anything for Tennessee. He noted that the next year’s budget includes significant investments in education, while pointing out that Tennessee has the lowest debt per person in the country.
Last week’s Democratic Jackson Day Dinner reportedly had 750 in attendance. About 1,200 Republicans were part of Friday’s gathering, Haynes said.
Notes: The TNGOP press release on the event is HERE. It says the party raised $630,000 at the dinner.
And this from the Tennessee Democratic Party:
NASHVILLE, TENN. (May 13, 2016) – Tennessee Democratic Party chair Mary Mancini released the following statement regarding the TNGOP Statesmen’s Dinner:
“As Tennessee Republicans corral major donors and constituents for their 2016 Statesmen’s Dinner, they will pat each other on the back for what they call a job well done. The reality is, the Republican Party is crumbling right before our eyes.
Because of their failed policies and practices, hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans are still without health care, the state is losing millions of dollars due to a newly passed discriminatory law, and they fought hard to give tax breaks to the top wage earners while doing nothing to address the fact that Tennessee has the highest percent of low-wage workers in the nation.
At every critical moment when they could have shown leadership and worked to make the lives of ordinary Tennesseans better, they said, ‘there’s nothing we can do.’
Meanwhile, their Party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump, is the most dangerous in modern history.
Note II: Alternative perspectives: See The Nashville Scene, HERE, and WPLN, HERE.