The federal budget standoff prevented Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., from speaking Tuesday at the annual Allen County Republican Party Bean Dinner on Tuesday night.
Coats replacements – including his wife, Marsha, a national GOP committee member – blamed Democrats for the impasse that kept him in Washington, D.C., and has shut down parts of the federal government since Oct. 1.
The solution is to get more conservative Republicans elected so that in 2014 and 2016, we can change the balance, Marsha Coats said about a government divided among a Republican House and a Democratic Senate and White House.
She called President Barack Obamas Affordable Care Act, which is among the sticking points in fiscal negotiations, the worst piece of legislation that has ever come down the pike.
Her husband stayed in Washington with their dog, Honey, which he sometimes takes to work with him. Honey fertilizes the courtyard of the Senate Russell Office Building, and theres plenty of that in Washington to go around, Marsha Coats said.
Indiana Republican Party Chairman Tim Berry called Obama confused, inconsistent and incoherent on domestic and foreign policies, as well as preachy and all talk. The Fort Wayne native said Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., acts exactly the same as Obama in his votes on legislation.
But weve got to be real, Berry said. We recognize that the media tells us that its not real good for Republicans right now. But we also recognize that the president has taken a big hit as well in approval rating polls.
A few hundred people attended the fundraising dinner at Cerutis Summit Park, where the meal included beef, chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans. Many in the audience departed early, leaving a half-dozen empty or nearly empty tables in the room before Berry was finished talking.
Berry, a former state auditor and state treasurer, praised the Republican brand in Indiana, where the party controls both houses of the General Assembly and the governors office.
I believe that we can and we will continue to grow this party in our state, Berry said. For the sake of our state, I tell you we must continue to grow the party in this state.
We represent the right-track Indiana way. Were not here just to win elections. Were here to make a difference, to make a difference in the lives of Hoosiers, he said.
He and Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, listed as GOP accomplishments in the state lower taxes, reduced spending, retired debts and school choice.
The Allen Countys GOP has replaced Marion Countys as the stalwart at the Statehouse, Bosma said.
The strength in the legislature is not in Marion County, its in Allen County, Bosma said. The youth, the future of the Republican Party in the legislature, is not in central Indiana, although theres plenty of great leaders; its in Allen County.
Earlier, Berry presented the State Chairmans Award for service, commitment and leadership to local GOP financiers Bruce Dye and Bill Bean. Berry cited their efforts as essential in the GOP state committees decision last summer to have its 2014 nominating convention at Fort Waynes Grand Wayne Center in June.
Numerous candidates for state and county offices in the 2014 elections introduced themselves before the main speakers.