This year is my first time attending a Lincoln day dinner. This is for a good reason; the cost of a single ticket is the same as a family outing to a restaurant or a trip to the movies. So usually this kind of thing is out of my price range, but due to my hard efforts at the Sioux Empire Network my producer/friend, Robert Mehling got me in for my favorite price of all: free.
What happened there, Peter? You are probably impatiently asking. I’ll get to that in just a bit. However, first, there are a few things you should know: GOP dinners are primarily fundraising and passion making events. Scheduling this dinner so close to election day is slightly controversial since it made candidates must choose between attending the dinner or being outside door knocking. I know of at least one local GOP candidate that had to skip the dinner for this reason. Congresswoman Noem even had to leave half way through the speeches so she could make it to an event in Watertown. The gamble the SDGOP is making here is that this will get the SDGOP members, leaders, and activists “tweeting, calling, and knocking” til the polls close on election night.
Dinners like this are very much ra-ra republican ordeals, not dissimilar to a high school pep rally. Not exactly my cup of tea, I’m more a thinker than a cheerer; but I got seated next to some cool Republicans including some friends of mine (shout out to Lloyd, Jon, and Sheila). The dinner wasn’t anything too special (pasta), but the dessert was excellent (pie, man I love pie). Unfortunately, they made us pay for our beverages which is never cool to do at these prices (same thing for wedding receptions).
However, the dinner at these things is only ever a perk. What we came for is to hear from Congresswoman Noem and former Trump administration press secretary Sean Spicer.
For those who care to want to know what Noem said I’ll leave you the cliff notes version. Just remember that I am not pointing out how factual they or may not be:
– Only one candidate signed a no-tax pledge.
– Only one candidate won’t increase the size of state government
– We need to end government secrecy
– I’ll fight the federal government on your behalf
– I stopped the EPA dust standards
– I finished the corp. of engineers charge for the Missouri River
– Told Billie in a debate that if he believed everything he said he would be republican
– “only our ads are truthful.”
– Billie wants an income tax
– Planned Parenthood funds him
– I’m endorsed by law enforcement, NRA, and farmers
– He is endorsed by unions and activists
– Billie is inexperienced and wrong on the issues
– This was then closely followed by the Republican Senate leader Curd saying, “Democrats want to eat the corn while other people grow it.”
Once all that politicking finished, we then got to hear the nights featured speaker: Sean Spicer. Only recently while studying up on him and listening to his interview on the Glenn Beck Program did I gain a fondness and admiration for Spicer. During his time as the press secretary for President Trump, he was shown by a grumpy national press to be a bumbling buffoon taking cover for a tyrant. What never got displayed is that Spicer is partly responsible for winning the 2016 Presidential general election, turned a severely in-debt organization (national GOP) and turned it into the winning machine it is today. He revolutionized how press briefings work by including local media, Spanish speaking media, internet only news organizations, and conservative media into the press briefings. Instead of just traditional outlets like the New York Times, the AP, Washington Post, and CNN; now reporters like myself who live outside of east coast press rooms got to get involved. Last of all Spicer is a friendly and compassionate person who understands political issues with much more nuanced than he got express while working for the Trump administration.
Spicer spoke about all these things and more; including about the story around candidate Trump learning he became President-elect Trump. Little planning went into how to handle election night in the case of Trump winning. So, when they realized they had to announce, they went to a nearby Hilton conference room which shared a cash bar in the room. Trump gave his winning speech in a place a third the size of the Best Western Ramkota conference room. Crazy.
After the speech, Spicer signed copies of his book (which I did) and allowed some folks to take pictures with him too.
Overall the dinner was a positive experience for me. I got to eat some decent chow, and a lovely dessert with political leaning friends and tell some jokes. Noem was okay, Spicer was great, and Curd maybe not the best pick to use to host these things.
If you have the chance to attend a Lincoln Day dinner, then I solidly recommend it. However, only if the pie is good, and the speaker better.