By Katie Olsen, Editor - South Davidson High School was thick with Republicans Saturday night when a crowd estimated at between 400 and 500 gathered for the annual Davidson County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner.
The drawing card for the event was U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Dole, who was invited by David Faust, chairman of the Davidson County Republican Party, to come and dine on spaghetti and meet the folks of Davidson County.
The dinner is primarily held each year to raise money for the Republican Party and not as a forum for candidates to speak. But Lexington lawyer, James Snyder, who will face Dole in the Republican primaries, was allowed to speak briefly before Dole took the floor.
Snyder, who has said he wants to pick up Sen. Jesse Helms’ conservative mantle on issues such as the right to life and the right to bear arms, took a swipe at Democratic Senate candidate Erskine Bowles, and an indirect jab at Dole, whom some see as less conservative than Helms in her position on abortion and the right to bear arms, and whom others criticize as a carpetbagger.
“This election,” Snyder said, “is about which North Carolinian knows North Carolina.”
Snyder told a story he has been using on his campaign trail about riding around Davidson County with Sim DeLapp and Jesse Helms before Helms became a U.S. Senator. He saw even back then that Helms would be a force to reckoned with one day and in whose footsteps he hoped to follow.
But not only has President Bush publicly endorsed Dole in his Winston-Salem address when he said he hoped to dine with Dole often, but Helms recently added his stamp of approval as well.
Snyder noted that conservatism is in a struggle with the world.
He asked the crowd, who had moved from dining in the school cafeteria, to the gymnasium, “Are you sick and tired of big government, taxes, gun control and those who would abort?”
Snyder said he only needs 126,000 votes and continued, “I have vision for America, but I need your help. Will you help me? Will you help me?”
After Snyder spoke, Faust introduced other candidates who will be running in the 2002 election.
Rick Lanier of Tyro, Fred McClure of Lexington, David Miller of West Lexington, Sam Watford of Thomasville, Ed Brown of Midway, Paul Hausand of Pilot, John Faust of Midway, David Faust’s father, and Don Truell of Thomasville have all declared their intention to run for county commissioner.
Brian Shipwash acknowledged his intent to run for re-election as clerk of court and Garry Frank was also introduced as running for re-election as district attorney.
Wayne Littleton was the only candidate for the office of sheriff to take the floor with Sheriff Gerald Hege, who will also seek re-election. Hege received one of the longest rounds of applause during the evening as he strode to the center of the gymnasium floor to acknowledge his candidacy.
Congressman Howard Coble, who has not yet announced his intent to run for re-election, spoke briefly before Elizabeth Dole took the floor.
Dole took a less aggressive tack than Snyder, relying on her polished delivery and almost immediate rapport with the audience to put her campaign issues across.
Dole began by talking about family and ties with North Carolina before moving into campaign issues. She listed those things which she hopes to address such as:
• Rebuilding the national defense. “Men and women in the service are going into harm’s way and they need the best training, the best equipment and a pay raise,” she said.
• Jobs are the most important issue here and in the rest of the state, she said. She noted that while industries in the state are struggling, eastern North Carolina is still trying to recover from the devastating floods of the hurricane.
• She advocates open markets overseas, stating that the United States and North Carolina’s products ought to be sold world wide.
• She expressed her disappointment that the economic stimulas package presented was not passed. “Wouldn’t you rather have a paycheck than an unemployment check?” she asked.
• Raising taxes is the worst possible thing that could happen, Dole said. She criticized Sen. Ted Kennedy and said he was on the wrong track in seeking to do so. “Put to death the death tax,” she said.
• She advocates a 100 percent health care deduction for self-employed.
• And she said she would like to see an end to excessive federal regulations.
• She said she would make education a national priority but with local control. “You can’t manage schools by remote control,” she said.
“I want to call American back to her better nature,” said Dole. “We should make this a campaign for the good of all, based on issues.
“I’m asking for your vote tonight,” she said.
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