By Abraham Aboraya
November 11, 2009
ALTAMONTE SPRINGS - On Saturday, Representative John Boehner and Representative John Mica voted in the capital against President Barack Obama's signature health care legislation.
On Sunday, they were more than 830 miles south, speaking at the Seminole County Republican Party's Lincoln Reagan Day Dinner at the Altamonte Springs Hilton.
Mica, whose district includes parts of Altamonte Springs and Casselberry, and Boehner, the highest ranking Republican in the House, were the featured speakers.
Both used the opportunity to take shots at the Democrats' bill, saying that the 2010 election would bring a check to the Democrats.
"This is the beginning of the end of the other side for what they did to the American people last night," Mica said.
Boehner's statements a few minutes later echoed Mica's.
"The only thing we can do over the next year is make sure we elect Republicans to congressional districts around the country, and if we do, we will win," Boehner said. "We'll put a check on this administration's ability to socialize our economy."
Boehner represents Ohio's Eighth Congressional District, and comes from a catholic family with 11 brothers and sisters. Boehner told the full Crystal Ballroom that he was raised as a Democrat but began changing his mind when his business paid more in taxes in 1978 than it earned gross in 1976.
Boehner said that, in 1970, the top income tax rate bracket was 70 percent.
"I went to Washington because I was convinced government was choking the goose that was laying golden eggs," Boehner said. "I went there to get government's hand off the goose so the goose could keep laying golden eggs. Needless to say, I haven't succeeded yet."
Out of all the speakers, Boehner seemed to draw the biggest laughs and the biggest applause. His speech style seems to blend tongue-in-cheek and serious rhetoric.
He said that the American people have been rejecting the change the new administration is bringing.
"I went to Washington because I believe in our cause," Boehner said. "You're here tonight because you believe in our cause. One only has to look at what's happened this year to realize that our cause is the right cause. ... Every change that [Obama]'s offered, the American people soundly rejected."
The speakers weren't just federal, either. Florida Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum spoke at the dinner.
He said that, historically, Florida has depended on agriculture and tourism as its two main industries. And while he said he would work to keep those industries booming, Florida has to branch out.
"We cannot any longer depend on just those two industries for the future of Florida," he said. "We have to grow our state. I happen to believe in growing wealth, not redistributing it. I think that's extraordinarily important."
The dinner included a plethora of elected officials and notables in Seminole County. Former Oviedo congressman Tom Feeney was at the event, as was Florida representative Sandy Adams.
County Commissioners Bob Dallari and Mike McLean were at the event - a fundraiser for local Republicans - as well as Oviedo's recently re-elected Mayor Mary Lou Andrews. Deputy Mayor Dominic Persampiere was also in attendance.
Persampiere said he liked the event. He almost won one of the silent auctions for a framed picture of Lincoln, complete with complete strands of his hair and a piece of the flag from his funeral procession.
"It was a well put-on event, and, as always, well attended," Persampiere said. "The Republican Party certainly isn't dead. They just talked about balancing the views on what's going on. It wasn't completely partisan, it wasn't over the top, it was 'Hey, let's have a conversation.' The speakers were excellent."
Boehner touched on how difficult it's been to be a Republican as of late.
"Over the last couple election cycles, it hasn't been easy to be a Republican," he said. "We made our share of mistakes; the American people gave up on us. My job as Republican leader of the House ... is to help give the American people reasons to believe."
All the speakers were introduced by Patsy Gilbert, a professional Sarah Palin impersonator. She gave the keynote speakers boxes of Mooseburger Helper - buckshot free and "locked and loaded for flavor."
"I've been doing it (the Palin impressions) since the morning after her nomination acceptance speech," Gilbert said. "I go all over the country doing it. ... I've been almost everywhere in the lower 48 doing it, but I'm based out of Orlando."