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Republicans focus on future at Lincoln dinner

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By Kelly Cantrall

Though the program honors a great president of the past, members of the Republican Party kept an eye toward the future Friday at the annual Lincoln Day Dinner.

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The dinner, presented by the Republican Party of Hardin County, began with a recounting of the lives of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln from presenters Larry and Mary Elliott. But after the failed presidential bid of candidate Mitt Romney, Republican officials were eager to speak about the current political climate and the direction the party is headed.

Rep. Tim Moore, R-Elizabethtown, spoke about a great divide that has grown among the American population, which he said presents a “great challenge” for the country. But despite the challenge, he remains hopeful because of young conservatives he has met. He introduced several high school students who recently served as pages in Frankfort, and asked one, John Hardin High School student Michael Kimble, to address the crowd.

U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Bowling Green, followed with another challenge for the country: debt, which he urged shouldn’t be passed on to future generations. Moore said he believes people are beginning to see the perils of big government, and Guthrie agreed, saying if Republicans could make the “moral case” for its policies, they would find success in coming elections. Specifically, he said explaining the conservative belief that welfare creates government dependents, or that long-term unemployment benefits do the same, will show voters the programs hurt citizens.

“We didn’t do them justice,” he said of allowing the unemployed to receive long-term benefits.

Guthrie also touched on Medicare, endorsing the budget U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan has put forth that would rework the system for those younger than 55. It would give vouchers or something similar to people to purchase private health insurance. Guthrie said the program needs to be changed because “it can’t continue the way it is forever.”

Richard Nelson of the Commonwealth Policy Center spoke about the party’s victories, including seeing several Democratic seats in the General Assembly taken by Republican candidates.

“We’d like to see this happen across the commonwealth,” Nelson said.

The policy center is looking for new candidates and is hosting local candidate training May 17 and 18.

“Our commitment is to chart a new course for Kentucky,” Nelson said.

Republican National Committeewoman K.C. Crosbie focused on the national party and discussed its failings in the November election. She said the Obama campaign succeeded in making many contacts with voters using strategies the Republican Party hasn’t adopted. Crosbie said efforts to promote a positive message will resonate with voters.

“As Republicans, we have the right message, we just need to do a better job of getting it out,” she said.

Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or kcantrall@thenewsenterprise.com.