Right to the Point (7/9/09)

Energizing Republicans

July 9, 2009
By Mike Benevento

Last month, I had the privilege of attending the First Annual Sara Gear Boyd Memorial Dinner. The well-attended event took place in downtown Burlington. The dinner honored Sara Boyd, who was the Republican leader in both the Vermont House and Senate. Boyd also spent time on the national level as the Republican National Committee secretary before losing her battle to cancer last summer.

Many key Vermont Republicans were present at the fundraiser, including Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie and Gov. Jim Douglas. The guest speakers included Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Since the latter two could not attend the dinner, both gave videotaped presentations discussing Boyd’s tireless efforts.

All speakers spoke highly of Boyd — no doubt she made a huge impact on their lives. After praising Boyd, the speakers discussed current events and offered suggestions for the Republican audience.

After Dubie spoke, Douglas took the podium. Fresh off the Vermont Democrats’ override of his budget veto, the governor reminded everyone that the Democrats made wrong choices in their budget. Their biggest mistake was the massive amount of spending, which will lead to large deficits in the future.

With more than $200 million in deficits, Vermonters will have huge holes to fill in the next couple of years. Given this, Douglas warned Republicans to get serious about what is happening. He said the Democrats’ super-majority will continue to overburden Vermonters with taxes unless more Republicans get elected. Now is the time to do what it takes to win the 2010 elections and bring more Republicans to Montpelier.

The night’s keynote speaker was the former New Hampshire governor and President George H. W. Bush’s Chief of Staff, John H. Sununu. His speech covered several topics, including remembering Boyd, last fall’s elections in New Hampshire, the presidential race and what the party needs to do going forward.

After talking fondly of Boyd, Sununu discussed the effective campaign run by the Democrats during the last national election. He stated that the United States has been the victim of a great marketing campaign where style was more important than substance. Democrats overwhelmed America with marketing and money while Republicans stood by and did nothing.

The Democrats, Sununu observed, exploited the fact that President George W. Bush rubbed many people in the wrong way. They saw an opening — and took it. Democrats raised millions upon millions of dollars and sent out an army of workers to deliver their message to the voters.

During the last election, Sununu noted, President Barack Obama proved that he was a good campaigner. While he is not as good a speaker as the press makes him out to be, his message of change swayed young voters.

Even still, Sununu cautioned, it was not Bush’s fault alone that the Democrats won. Sununu drew great applause when he said, “Let’s face it, the Republican Party aided and abetted. We spent like drunken sailors. Worse, we spent like sober Democrats!” Republicans failed to be fiscally conservative and the party paid for it at the polls.

Sununu later spoke of how the American people are starting to wake up to Obama’s shortcomings. Essentially, he talked about what I would describe as many Americans having buyer’s remorse.

As the economy continues to struggle, Sununu continued, Americans are realizing that the policies advocated by Democrats are not helping much. Worse, they are increasing our burden on future generations. Thus, Americans are having second thoughts about change.

Per Sununu, the damage Democrats are causing has to stop. Republicans have to take our country back. Sununu advised sticking to our conservative principles and adhering to the Constitution.

We have to do what it takes to win. Sununu stated that Democrats are fiscally ruining New Hampshire, Vermont and the country. That will not change unless Republicans stop them. We have an obligation to do the nitty-gritty to make things happen. We cannot be half-hearted. The Democrats are surely not.

All too often, Democrats run on Republican principles, only to revert to their true nature once elected.

“The most powerful political message comes from the lips of someone you know,” Sununu said.

Talk with people about Democratic myths and reality. Accent the differences. Put a Republican label on Republican principles and actions.

Sharpen the message, Sununu directed. Write letters to the editor. Speak up at town meetings. Talk to your friends, family and co-workers. By doing all this, Republicans can win the 2010 elections.

Sununu finished, “Remember, you are doing it for your kids and grandkids.”

Michael Benevento is a former Air Force fighter jet weapon systems officer. He has a bachelor’s degree in Military History and a master’s in International Relations. Mike resides in Williston with his wife Kristine and their two sons, Matthew and Calvin.