More than 1,000 turned out for the Tennessee Republican Party’s annual Statesman’s Dinner fundraiser Friday night, according to GOP officials, and about $470,000 was collected for party coffers.
The keynote speech was delivered by freshman U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, who called on Tennessee Republicans to help their party capture both chambers of Congress next year in a revival-style stump speech, according to the Tennessean. Scott, the South Carolina lawmaker who earlier this year became the first African-American senator from the South since Reconstruction, said in the keynote address to the Tennessee Republican Party’s annual Statesmen’s Dinner that the GOP can win back the Senate next year and the White House in 2016.
But doing so will require reconnecting with the American people.
“America, they want to know how much we know, but they want to know it after they understand how much we care,” Scott said. “Our ability to achieve success in the Senate, to maintain the House, will be our ability to communicate our message effectively. … This will lead us to the promised land.”
…Tennessee Republicans were urged to set aside differences and campaign for Sen. Lamar Alexander, who is seeking a third term. They also were asked to open their wallets for Scott, who hopes to win statewide in South Carolina for the first time next year after being appointed in January to a vacant seat.
Ranging back and forth on the stage for about 15 minutes, Scott attempted to rouse the crowd with a delivery like a gospel preacher. Much of his address centered on his maturation from a teenager who struggled in school to a business owner — a message that tacitly referenced his historic status without overtly calling attention to his race.
Scott also hit on touchstone Republican positions, calling for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the expansion of school vouchers.
….”We think that Senator Scott kind of embodies the principles of the Republican Party, which include bringing opportunity to everyone,” said (state Republican Chairman Chris) Devaney.
Gov. Bill Haslam fielded several questions about state government outsourcing contracts Monday, insisting that a few mistakes might have occurred but that the public’s interest was his only motivation.
From WTVF’s report: Surrounded by reporters, the governor was emphatic about his administration decision to outsource large chunks of state government — the most recent being a $330 million contract to manage all state buildings.
“This is a contract that’s going to save the state a hundred million dollars over the next years,” Haslam said.
That contract went to Jones Lang Lasalle — a company that candidate Bill Haslam listed among his investments.
“Is there any sense in which you stand to gain personally from that contract?” NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked.
“Absolutely zero,” the governor answered.
…The governor did acknowledge that a meeting with JLL officials at the Governor’s Residence in April 2012 was about more than just the $1 million consulting contract they had at the time to study the condition of the state’s buildings.
After that meeting, the administration began pushing a string of amendments to extend the JLL contract — without any bidding.
“Were you involved in those conversations about those extensions?” NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked.
“No,” the governor said.
“We had the dinner because at this point in time we were thinking about them obviously managing a big chunk of the state’s business, and I wanted to have a face-to-face conversation just like I was if I going out to hire an individual to do something. To me, there’s nothing extraordinary about that at all.”
But when the facilities management contract was put up for bids, two of the three members of the selection committee came from the governor’s own staff.
“Did you interview any of their competitors?” we asked.
“I didn’t,” the governor admitted, “because I wasn’t part of the selection process.”
Still, Haslam insisted that he believes taxpayers will be the winners.
“Look, anytime you make a big change in state government, does everything in the process go about properly? No. This is new territory we’re in. There’s literally no other states who have done what we’ve done.”
See also the Commercial Appeal, HERE
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker described a rare dinner between President Barack Obama and GOP senators as a “very sincere and open discussion” and said he walked away feeling Democrats and Republicans might find a way to solve some of the nation’s fiscal problems, reports Michael Collins. “I thought it was constructive and left there with a more positive outlook than I did coming in,” the Chattanooga Republican said.
Corker was one of a dozen GOP senators invited to have dinner Wednesday night with Obama at a hotel near the White House to exchange ideas on how they could work together to deal with the nation’s fiscal problems. Obama suggested the get-together in a phone call with U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who put together the guest list. The White House said Obama paid for the dinner.
Corker said the group agreed not to disclose specific policy ideas that were discussed. But in general, he said, the discussion involved “some structural reforms that need to take place and certainly a focus on how to get there.”
Democrats and Republicans are looking for ways to blunt the impact of $85 billion in federal budget cuts that took effect last Friday and to avoid a government shutdown March 27, when current funding for federal agencies is set to expire. Also looming is a battle over raising the federal debt ceiling.
Asked if he thought Obama was sincere about wanting to work with Republicans, Corker said, “I did.”
“I think, if anything, that’s what struck people at the meeting more than anything else was the apparent sincerity that was there,” Corker said. “I think everyone there to a person would say it was a good foundation and good beginning, and hopefully it will lead to results.”
There were signs that the Republican big tent is fraying at the Statesmen’s Dinner, though the theme was unity and about $500,000 was raised, reports Andy Sher. Even the choice of the dinner’s keynote speaker — former Arkansas governor and 2008 GOP presidential nominee Mike Huckabee — raised some eyebrows.
Huckabee supported U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., in the 3rd Congressional District 2010 GOP primary. This year, the freshman Chattanooga lawmaker faces spirited challenges from Weston Wamp, of Chattanooga, and Scottie Mayfield, of Athens.
Last week, Huckabee appeared in a new Fleischmann television ad, and they were set to tour the 3rd District before Fleischmann had to cancel so he could get back to Washington for an unexpected vote.
In a statement two days before Huckabee’s speech, Wamp scoffed that “Mike Huckabee’s credibility in Tennessee’s 3rd District is questionable based on his long-standing relationship with Chuck Fleischmann’s chief of staff and political operative, Chip Saltsman.”
He said Huckabee’s “public support of Chuck Fleischmann is a prime example of the ‘back-scratching’ that is part of the problem in Washington.”
Saltsman, a former state GOP chairman, was national manager of Huckabee’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Neither Wamp nor Mayfield attended the Statesmen’s Dinner.
Huckabee, now a talk show host on Fox News, devoted most of his speech to criticizing President Obama and praising presumed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Huckabee did urge attendees to “enthusiastically” make sure “Mitt Romney is our next president, [U.S. Sen.] Bob Corker returns to the Senate [and] these outstanding members of your congressional delegation.”
But he didn’t mention any congressman by name.
Republican Lou Ann Zelenik, who is battling to defeat U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., in the 6th District primary, said she didn’t take any offense.
“He’s just bringing his great inspiring message here, and I love him,” she said.
Devaney said he invited Huckabee because he won the 2008 GOP presidential primary in Tennessee, was available to speak and is a popular host on Fox News.
“We had our thing booked first and they [Fleischmann campaign] decided to do, I guess, this endorsement tour,” Devaney said. “But ours was booked first. No, there wasn’t any coordination.”
Fleischmann said he had nothing to do with Huckabee’s invitation to speak at the dinner. He said he doesn’t see his rivals running because they object to his conservative stances on fiscal and social issues.
Republican unity was the theme at the Tennessee GOP’s Statesman’s Dinner fundraiser Saturday and keynote speaker Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor and current Fox News talk show host, focused on one thing the party faithful agree upon — Barack Obama.
From the Tennessean report:
Huckabee’s speech at the state GOP’s biggest fundraiser of the year was almost entirely centered on the November general election. The speech, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, also included sharp rebukes of President Barack Obama and his policies. Specifically, Huckabee questioned the Obama administration’s attitude toward the country’s industry.
When talking to the media before he spoke to Republican supporters, the 2008 presidential hopeful said that Obama is hostile toward American businessmen.
“I don’t understand why, other than he’s never experienced putting everything he has on the line and nursing a business to health,” he said.
He also criticized the administration’s calls for presumptive candidate Mitt Romney to release additional tax returns publicly.
“I’m not so much concerned about what Mitt Romney makes,” he said during his speech, instead saying he was more concerned about the federal government’s financial state than anything else.
Note: See also the TNReport, which includes video. And Stephen Hale, who was mistaken for a waiter at the event, came away with video and commentary.
Third District Congressman Chuck Fleischmann canceled campaign rallies with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee Thursday, but Huckabee is still the keynote speaker at the Tennessee Republican Party’s leading fundraiser of the year, the “Statesman’s Dinner” in Nashville.
Huckabee is also appearing in Fleishmann’s latest TV commercial. In it, Huckabee describes Fleischmann as “a good man… a devoted husband and father, a committed man of faith.”
Fleischmann said he would attempt to reschedule a campaign event with Huckabee later. The Thursday events were scrapped when the House scheduled a vote on the U.S. Department of Defense budget for Thursday evening, creating a time conflict for the congressman.
It’s a bit unusual for the keynote speaker at the Statesman’s Dinner to be publicly backing a candidate in a hotly-contested Republican congressional primary. Tickets for the fundraiser at the Opryland Resort Hotel start at $250 and go up to $10,000.
Huckabee, who now hosts a show on Fox News Network, ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 and carried Tennessee before losing the election to Sen. John McCain. Chip Saltsman, who managed Fleischmann’s 2010 campaign for Congress and then served as his chief of staff, was Huckabee’s campaign manager in the 2008 presidential race.
Fleischman’s best-financed primary opponetns are Scottie Mayfield and Weston Wamp.
News release from Tennessee Republican Party:
NASHVILLE, TN – The 36th Annual Tennessee Republican Party Statesmen’s Dinner will be held on Saturday, July 21st at Gaylord Opryland Convention Center in Nashville. Headlining this year’s event is former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.
“Governor Huckabee has been a solid, conservative voice in politics for many years. We are thrilled to have him share his message with us as we approach what is undoubtedly one of the most crucial elections of our lifetime,” said Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney.
Governor Huckabee is the host of the number one rated weekend hit HUCKABEE on the Fox News Channel and Cumulus Media Networks’ syndicated radio program, The Mike Huckabee Show, heard on more than 175 stations. He’s also heard three times daily across the nation on The Huckabee Report syndicated on almost 600 stations, and has been the fastest growing new program on the Cumulus Media Network in recent years.
The campaign slogan President Barack Obama rode to victory three years ago is one Republicans should flip on its head in 2012, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels told a large crowd of Republicans in Nashville on Friday.
More from Michael Cass’ account of the State’smen’s Dinner speakers: Daniels said the president’s campaign slogan, “Change You Can Believe In,” is “an empty phrase” that “can mean whatever the listener invests in it.”…
“I think we as Republicans, at least figuratively, need to turn that phrase,” he said. “We need to really present ourselves in Indiana and Tennessee and places elsewhere as people who favor change that believes in you, that believes you are an individual of dignity and a person who is fully up to the task of leading your own life, and we want you to have the maximum amount of your earned income to keep.”
Daniels, who lived near Bristol, Tenn., as a young child, was the keynote speaker at the Tennessee Republican Party’s annual Statesmen’s Dinner, which drew about 1,000 elected officials and party activists to the Nashville Convention Center. His appearance came less than two months after he decided not to run for the Republican nomination for president next year.
Daniels, who was a senior adviser to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, said he wouldn’t reconsider his decision, alluding to the family concerns he cited when he announced it in May.
“It would involve the changing of several hearts,” he told reporters before the dinner. “There are other ways to contribute.”
Daniels’ main contribution to American life has been an attack on working-class people, Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said in a statement Wednesday.
“Tennessee Republicans have a surplus of bad ideas that make it harder for working people to get by or for their kids to get a decent education — there’s no need to steal inspiration from Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, the man who wrote the failed economic policies that led us into Bush’s recession,” Forrester said.
Note: See also Mike Morrow’s report, which makes available video excerpts from several speeches. An excerpt from his story: The night played more like an affirmation of what the Republicans had accomplished rather than what they were about to do.
There were 1,150 people at the Nashville Convention Center, compared to 1,400 in 2010, when there had been an electric atmosphere and an historic sea change in Tennessee politics. The crowd had been more like 900 in 2009.
The dinner Friday raised $500,000 for the state GOP, according to party chairman Chris Devaney. Those funds will go toward Republican campaigns in 2012, when Devaney hopes they can deliver a “walkout-proof” majority in the Legislature, meaning the Democrats wouldn’t even have enough members to deny Republicans a quorum. Two more Republicans in each chamber would do the trick.
The Tennessean also posted a video of clips from the remarks of Gov. Bill Haslam, Sen. Lamar Alexander and Sen. Bob Corker HERE..