At the Franklin County Republican Party’s Reagan Dinner Monday night, U.S. Reps. Andy Barr of Kentucky and Jim Jordan of Ohio and others worked to “light fire” in the approximately 100 people in attendance.
FCPR Chair Phyllis Vincent said the event, now in its third year, aims to raise money locally and inspire party faithful to help elect Republicans across the state and country. The money — attending the dinner cost $50 per person — goes to support local GOP candidates in Franklin County.
Jordan, who was the keynote speaker, and Barr, who was the keynote speaker last year and introduced Jordan this year, spoke against the move to impeach President Donald Trump.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched a formal impeachment inquiry last week after a whistleblower released the details of a call between Trump and the Ukrainian president in which Trump seemed to pressure him to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s family.
Barr called this a “critical time in our country’s history” and said Democrats are “careening from one baseless theory to another to reverse the outcome of a duly elected presidential election.”
Barr said there was “nothing wrong” with the president’s call, and that he was “doing his job, and he was doing it well.”
When he began his remarks, Jordan, who has represented Ohio’s 4th Congressional District since 2007, thanked the crowd for “a wonderful Bluegrass welcome to a Buckeye.”
He continued his thanks, expressing his gratitude to Franklin County for electing Barr as Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District representative and for supporting the president.
He also said he is thankful that U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell is running the Senate, so that he can handle “this ridiculous thing they’ve embarked on,” referring to Democrats and the impeachment inquiry.
Jordan said Democrats have come up with “this crazy Ukraine story” and are already committed to following it through.
“They have already jumped out of the airplane; there is no turning back,” he said. “We just got to put down facts.”
If the House of Representatives approves bringing charges against the president, the Senate then takes over the process, holding a trial to determine whether the president is guilty.
McConnell said Monday that he would have “no choice” but to hold the trial in the Senate if the House does impeach Trump.
Jordan moved on to what’s at stake in the 2020 presidential election and accused Democrats of wanting to take “all kinds of things” away from American citizens, like private health insurance, sovereign borders and plastic drinking straws.
“They want to take away your president,” he said.
Jordan said there is currently a “fundamental assault and attack on liberty and freedom.” He mentioned three different fronts where these attacks are coming: limits on free speech, particularly on college campuses; big tech; and the federal government.
He criticized safe spaces and bias response teams on campuses, which he said limit free speech by policing when students say something “politically incorrect.”
“Where is a free speech zone supposed to be?” he asked.
The crowd responded, “Everywhere.”
“Yeah, it’s called America,” Jordan said. “It’s called the First Amendment.”
He said this is where “the left” wants to go.
He moved on to his second area of concern, big tech, which he said can have adverse effects on elections. For example, when you do a Google search, what results Google prioritizes and puts at the top affects what you read, which can be slanted one way, he added.
Lastly, he highlighted what he said is the “biggest threat to our liberty”: the federal government.
“We have seen some things in the last few years that, frankly, we never thought we’d witness,” he said, such as the IRS systemically targeting conservatives. He was referring to when, in 2013, the Internal Revenue Service revealed it had more closely scrutinized certain political groups applying for tax-exempt status based on their names or themes.
Jordan closed his 30-minute address by imploring his audience to continue to defend “the things that matter, the things that make our country special.”
Vincent said she wanted Jordan to speak at the dinner because he’s “a little fireball” and “a no-quit guy.” So she called Barr this summer and asked him to make it happen; Barr said Jordan was “more than pleased” to come to the dinner.
The event also served as a campaign rally of sorts, with Republican candidate for lieutenant governor Sen. Ralph Alvarado speaking briefly, as well as campaign representatives speaking on behalf of Treasurer Allison Ball, Auditor Mike Harmon, Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, secretary of state candidate Mike Adams and attorney general candidate Daniel Cameron.
Current Lt. Gov. Jeanine Hampton was also in attendance; Hampton was the keynote speaker at the first Reagan dinner in 2017.
Vincent said she thinks Jordan accomplished the goal of firing up the audience. When he finished speaking, he received his second standing ovation of the night.
But Vincent reminded attendees that only about half of registered Republicans in Franklin County voted in the last gubernatorial election in 2015. She said after the event that she doesn’t worry about the people in the room Monday night being fired up, but she encouraged them to spread that to their families, friends and neighbors.
“We’ve got to go to work,” she said.