Political advertisements and fliers lined dozens of tables and chairs as hundreds of attendants of the Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner filed in the Union Ballroom three days before the Ohio primaries.
Co-hosted by the Seneca and Sandusky County Republican Executive Committees, the night featured politicians and other elected officials from throughout Ohio as well as two presidential candidates.
Although speaking on the campus of Bowling Green State University, neither of the candidates mentioned the University by name nor acknowledged the campus setting at any point during the night. Instead, candidates turned their attention to the state’s political landscape and the issues they argued were affecting the country.
Newt Gingrich, running for the Republican nomination for president, was the first candidate to speak at the event.
The former Speaker of the House opened his speech by tasking Ohio with a “three-part federal assignment.”
First, Gingrich said, Ohioans need to re-elect Rep. Bob Latta, who currently serves in Ohio’s 5th district and attended the event. Along with Republicans winning the state’s Senate race against incumbent Sherrod Brown, Ohio would need to assist in helping carry the state in the presidential election, Gingrich said.
Gingrich focused his speech on energy, outlining his plan to lower gas prices by increasing domestic energy production.
“We should drill, drill, drill,” he said.
He then cited a speech where he said President Barack Obama wanted to solve energy costs and manufacturing through algae.
“Would you like $10 a gallon and algae? Or $2.50 a gallon and drilling?” Gingrich asked. “It was $1.13 a gallon when I was speaker, it was $1.89 a gallon when Barack Obama was sworn in.”
Gingrich ended by reiterating his political hopes for Ohio in the upcoming elections and beyond.
“Barack Obama’s left-wing view doesn’t work, is based on a fantasy, is expensive on the American people, is easy to take apart and with a candidate who can stand on the same stage and debate him, I believe we have a chance, a very real chance, to win a historic election of landslide proportions...”
Presidential candidate Rick Santorum followed Gingrich and began discussing the early history of the United States.
The former senator from Pennsylvania praised the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and the creation of the United States.
“We are a country that was founded differently than any other country,” Santorum said.
Turning to the topic of equality, he argued that it comes from our culture rather than others.
“Where does [the concept of equality] come from? Does it come from Islam? Does it come from other cultures around the world? ... No, it comes from our culture and tradition from a Judeo-Christian ethic.”
Santorum garnered a positive reaction from the crowd, who treated him to four standing ovations during his speech.
Speaking of the national debt, he rhetorically asked what kind of government puts a financial burden on its next generation.
“Communism!” a man shouted in response.
Santorum then spoke about government regulation and Obamacare, which he argued was antithesis for American individualism.
“When [Obamacare] happens, [it’s] game, set, match for freedom.”
Santorum argued that a candidate with a vision is more powerful than one with the most money.
“You’re not going to be able to win this election by overwhelming your opponent in the general election with five times as many negative ads,” he said. “You’re going to have to win the race because you’ve got better ideas.”
Santorum urged attendants to support his campaign because of his strong conviction as a conservative.
“I am not someone when the climate changes that I change,” he said.
“I’m not asking for your life, I’m not asking for your fortune,” Santorum said. “I’m asking you most decidedly for your honor.”
The Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner brings people together
The Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner brings together people from area constituents to elected officials looking for their vote, the dinner played host to a variety of attendants.
Chad Baus, a small business owner in Archibald, Ohio, traveled to Bowling Green to hear Rick Santorum and other politicians speak.
Baus said he appreciated that presidential candidates campaigned in the area rather than sticking to larger populated areas.
“Northwest Ohio does feel like it gets ignored a lot,” he said.
Ohio Supreme Court Justice Robert Cupp said the close presidential race brings people out to political events like this.
“[It] raises a level of interest,” he said.
Cupp, like many of the dinner’s political attendants, is running for reelection and came to campaign and meet with area voters.
While Cupp hopes for another term on the Ohio Supreme Court, many in the audience were looking for someone new in the White House.
“What I’m looking for in a candidate is someone willing to go 180 degrees in the opposite direction than we are right now,” Baus said.
Regulation has doubled in recent years for his car dealership, and he wants a candidate willing to lower regulatory burden in the future, he said after his prospective vote finished his speech.
“I’m planning on voting for Rick Santorum this Tuesday,” Baus said.