The Republican Party of Florida pulled in more than $2 million Friday night at a $500-minimum victory dinner featuring Haley Barbour, Mississippi governor and chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
Barbour’s remarks mainly centered on uniting the party for the general election.
“Forty-two years of doing this, I’ve seen primaries like this. And we all know there’s some people who are sitting on their hands right now. Probably some that are sitting on their wallets at the same time,” Barbour said.
Barbour also echoed statements that this election is the most important in a generation, and even more vital than the much-vaunted Republican revolution of 1994.
“The stakes in 1994 were not as high as the stakes in 2010, because the stakes of this election are very simple: Are our children and grandchildren going to inherit the same country with the same opportunities as our parents and grandparents gave us?” Barbour said. “If we wait until 2012 to start taking our country back, it becomes immeasurably harder.”
Barbour joked that he had a simple solution to get the base fired up again: “Well, let them hear Marco Rubio talk for about three minutes, is a good starting place, I can tell you that.”
Rubio also addressed the crowd, giving a pitch on American exceptionalism reminiscent of his stump speeches.
“Do you realize that tonight we are meeting here to criticize the president of the United States in the strongest possible terms?” Rubio said. “And yet in most societies in all of human history — and in many today — if you have a meeting to talk bad about the government, the police come through the door and arrest you. The fact that we are even gathered here today, or that we’re going to have an election in November, is a testament to an extraordinary freedom which is unique and rare in all the history of the world.”
Rubio likened the challenge facing America today to historical challenges.
“Every single generation was asked to make sacrifices. Some go to war. Others rebuild our nation. Others lend their children to war,” Rubio said. “But every generation before us has stood before the challenges to our exceptionalism, have faced them, confronted them, and solved them. And because they did, we live the life we do now.”
Rick Scott, the GOP gubernatorial nominee who railed against “Tallahassee insiders” on the campaign trail and dropped approximately $50 million of his own personal fortune on his primary bid, seemed right at home in front of hundreds of Republican faithful as a representative of the party.
“I thank each of you for building a strong foundation for the Republican Party of Florida,” Scott said.
Scott took the opportunity to hammer home his economic plan, a seven-point outline which includes tax and spending cuts, accountability budgeting, and regulatory reform. He also continued linking Democrat opponent Alex Sink to President Obama, even announcing a new website dedicated to that purpose: www.alexsinkingflorida.com
Bill McCollum, Florida’s current attorney general and the vanquished primary rival of Scott, didn’t attend, the St. Petersburg Times and Miami Herald note, despite having been “a fixture in Republican politics for more than two decades.”