We continue to see national Republican leaders come to our state, demonstrating that Alabama is on every one’s radar. In less than one week after having Presidential candidate Rick Perry in Birmingham last Friday, followed by Sen. Jim DeMint last Saturday, we had another Republican leader in our State. Karl Rove, former advisor to President George W. Bush and current Fox News contributor, was the keynote speaker for the Coffee County Republican Party. Nearly 600 people gathered at the Enterprise Civic Center to hear Rove, known as “the Architect” of President Bush’s campaign, speak to an energized crowd. Everyone had the opportunity to personally meet him as he walked around to each table during the dinner. He sat at his place at the head table for no more than five minutes as he sought out everyone in attendance to speak with them.
The Master of Ceremonies for the evening, Jonathan Tullos of the Coffee County Republican Executive Committee, did a wonderful job. Jonathan was filling in for Sue Neuwein, Second District GOP Chairman, who took this project on for herself and did a magnificent job. Unfortunately, Sue could not be at the dinner as she was with her husband, Skip, who had been hospitalized after an extended illness. I am very sorry to say that after a valiant fight for his life, Skip went to be with the Lord on Saturday evening. Let us all be in prayer for Sue and her family during this time.
Sue has done an outstanding job of Chairman of the Second Congressional District and this event was just one example of her passion for the Republican Party and her “can do” attitude. Some may have wondered what Sue was thinking by having a headliner like Karl Rove come to rural Coffee County for a fundraiser. Anyone who was in attendance at this wonderful event Thursday was able to get a glimpse of Sue’s vision first-hand.The dinner was held in the beautiful new Enterprise Civic Center, which made me think of the movie Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner. His character built a baseball diamond in a corn field in Iowa believing if he built it, the people would come. Sue may not have been the one who built the Civic Center, but she did organize this outstanding event with the help of others and come they did….from all over Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida.
Rove was an energetic and engaging speaker, captivating the crowd for over an hour. He delved into topics including the current economic crisis, Obamacare and how important it is to work for the defeat of President Obama next year. He also shared a touching story of former President Bush’s 62 mile bike ride with 14 Wounded Warriors who had lost a limb in combat. Rove reported that the good-natured President joked with those on this grueling 3 day bike ride. He encouraged attendees to follow the words of Abraham Lincoln: find a person who “holds you in confidence,” share political opinions with that person, and then encourage him or her to vote in the 2012 elections. He also challenged the crowd by stating that he was going to raise $250 million for the next Republican presidential campaign and asked what each person in the room was going to do to influence the election.
Rove was asked by one guest why he agreed to come speak in Enterprise, Alabama. Rove responded that although the Coffee County Republican Committee provided a compelling argument, the deciding factor was his remembrance of President George W. Bush’s description of his 2007 visit to Enterprise after having been devastated by a tornado which killed eight students at Enterprise High School. He recalled Bush’s passionate recount; about how the members of that community came together to help one another during the tragedy; about how inspired he was by the experience. The president’s words left such an impression on Karl Rove that when given the opportunity to visit the small town in lower Alabama, he jumped at the chance.
It is exciting for me to see what the local county party is doing throughout the state. Sue Neuwein and the entire Coffee County Republican Executive Committee are to be commended for their vision to see what is possible and then following through to make it a reality. This event not only drew the local elected officials but several state and federal officials including Second District Congresswoman Martha Roby, Lt. Governor Kay Ivey, Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan, Public Service Commissioner Terry Dunn, members of the Judiciary, and Legislators from around the state. Also, Governor Robert Bentley paid a surprise visit to the reception as he was completing an economic tour of Coffee County.
It’s an immense privilege to the be Chairman of such an energized and active State Party. I know that other county committees and organizations are in the process of planning similar future events and I look forward to being a part of those events as well.
For the Cause,
Bill Armistead, Chairman
Alabama Republican Party
To read the entire August 22, 2011 newsletter, click here.