Maine First Lady Ann LePage and U.S. Sen. Susan Collins were two of the attendees at the Lincoln County Republican Committee’s Lincoln Day dinner at The 1812 Farm in Bristol Mills Friday, Feb. 12.
The sold-out event celebrated President Abraham Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Civil War re-enactors greeted guests at the door, and an Abraham Lincoln re-enactor delivered the Gettysburg Address to the packed house.
Speakers included Auburn Mayor Jonathan LaBonte and Lewiston Mayor Robert MacDonald, both of whom provided advice to candidates as the November elections approach.
“We’re trying to turn the state around, and the only way for all of us to do this is to start at the local level,” LaBonte said. “I challenge you all to think of the local races, the select boards, the school committees. We are in this for the long game, and that’s where it starts.”
Gov. Paul LePage had been slated to attend, however, was unable to make the event. His wife, First Lady Ann LePage, issued an apology, saying her husband had hoped to make the event, but was spending the evening working on tax conformity.
The first lady discussed her mission to support Maine veterans and their families while also honoring Lincoln.
“It was President Lincoln’s vision, leadership, and actions that have earned him a place in history as one of this nation’s greatest leaders,” Ann LePage said. “He understood the meaning of words like courage, hero, freedom, and liberty, words that can get thrown around much too carelessly today.”
“I don’t think what Peyton Manning is doing in the Super Bowl is more important than what our troops are doing overseas, just like I don’t think President Lincoln was thinking about games when thousands of people were giving their lives for their country,” she said.
Collins gave the closing speech of the night, updating those in attendance on issues facing Congress. Collins spoke of President Barack Obama’s use of executive orders and what she described as his disregard for the “careful and deliberate” separation of powers outlined in the Constitution.
One of the examples Collins gave was the release of five Taliban commanders in exchange for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Collins said Obama “deliberately ignored the law” that required him to provide Congress 30 days’ notice before transferring prisoners.
“President Obama says he has a pen that he will use to bypass Congress,” Collins said. “Perhaps instead, he should use this pen to underline parts of the Constitution that appear to have escaped his attention, like Article I.”
Collins reminded the crowd that there were 271 days until Election Day. Although the day seems far away, she said there is a lot of work that needs to be done by the party before Nov. 8.
At the state level, Collins said a Republican Legislature is needed to work with LePage to strengthen Maine’s economy. She said the party also needs to grow the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and maintain control of the U.S. Senate.
The party needs to remain dedicated and committed to electing a president who will respect the Constitution and its principles, Collins said.
“We need to elect a Republican president, one who will respect our Constitution, work with Congress, and hold his administration accountable to the people who elected him,” Collins said.
Among the 122 attendees were state Reps. Stephanie Hawke, R-Boothbay Harbor, Jeff Pierce, R-Dresden, Deborah Sanderson, R-Chelsea, and Jeff Hanley, R-Pittston, as well as 1st Congressional District candidates Mark Holbrook and Ande Smith.
Also in attendance were House District 91 candidate Abden Simmons and Senate District 13 candidate Dana Dow.
District Attorney Geoff Rushlau, Lincoln County Commissioner Hamilton Meserve, County Administrator John O’Connell, and County Finance Director Carrie Kipfer also attended the dinner.