Republican party chairman speaks in Salisbury
By Karissa Minn
SALISBURY — North Carolina’s primary may be less than a week away, but Republican party leaders are keeping their focus on the November general election.
Reince Priebus, the party’s national chairman, said Tuesday that the party will do whatever it can in North Carolina to help unseat President Barack Obama.
Priebus was the keynote speaker for the annual Lincoln-Reagan Dinner hosted by the Rowan County Republican Party.
“Are you ready to fire Barack Obama and save this country?” Priebus asked the crowd, to cheers and applause.
He went on to describe what he sees as a “battle for freedom” in the United States, and he urged Republicans to “charge Capitol Hill” and hold the president accountable for his actions.
“This is not your daddy’s Democrat in Washington,” Priebus said. “The fundamental question facing the county is, ‘If I work hard and I play by the rules, can I live the American dream?’ This president’s priorities are not America’s priorities.”
Priebus criticized Obama for promoting a “European socialist” health care law. He also said the president has not kept his promises to cut the nation’s deficit – instead increasing the debt – and its unemployment rate.
He told the audience to imagine what Obama would do if he wasn’t facing re-election.
“I’m so proud of the fact that Mitt Romney is our presumptive nominee,” Priebus said.
He said Romney has successfully turned businesses around and fulfilled the promises he’s made.
Priebus succeeded former Chairman Michael Steele in January of 2011 as head of the national Republican Party.
In a brief interview after his speech, Priebus said he thinks he’ll be spending a lot of time in this state.
“North Carolina is going to be the epicenter of this election for the country,” he said. “And this area is very important in North Carolina.”
Several state and local officials, along with numerous GOP candidates, attended the packed dinner at the event center of Cornerstone Church.
During his speech, Priebus praised N.C. Rep. Virginia Foxx, state party chairman Robin Hayes and Ada Fisher, North Carolina’s national party committeewoman, for their work with the GOP.
“These folks aren’t just window dressing,” Priebus said. “They’re very involved at the national level, and they have been part of the turnaround at the Republican National Convention.”
Hayes spoke after Priebus and encouraged the gathered crowd to personally connect with people and help them understand the party.
He said it’s important to unite, not to divide, and to build relationships with people who might not know many Republicans “up close and personal.”
“We have the chance to reestablish – to restore – the America that Ronald Reagan and Abraham Lincoln believed in,” Hayes said.
The event began with a tribute to those former presidents, and it ended with the presentation of the local party’s annual awards.
Rowan County’s entire state legislative delegation was recognized with the Republican of the Year Award.
Greg Edds, Rowan Republican Chairman, commended N.C. Sen. Andrew Brock and N.C. Rep. Fred Steen for “struggling through the dry years of being in the minority” in the General Assembly.
He also praised N.C. Rep. Harry Warren for unseating incumbent Democrat Lorene Coates and becoming part of the Republican majority.
The Noreen Foster Award was given to Butch Clements and Elaine Hewitt for their work organizing the Cleveland precinct, setting up voter registration locations and starting a student party chapter at West Rowan High School.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.
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