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The Journal Gazette

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Republican U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming talks with Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, left, and Allen County GOP Chairman Steve Shine before the party's Lincoln Day Dinner on Friday.

Saturday, April 27, 2019 1:00 am

Socialism threat focus of Lincoln Day Dinner

BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

Republican U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming declared Friday that socialism “is just as big a threat” from American Democrats today as it was from the former Soviet Union during the 1980s.

“When Ronald Reagan was president, he understood the threat of socialism, and he knew what it would take to fight against that threat. But in his day, that threat came from overseas. And today, in our day, that threat of socialism is rising in the House of Representatives. It's rising among the Democrats who are running for president,” Cheney told the Allen County Republican Party's annual Lincoln Day Dinner at Ramada Plaza Hotel and Conference Center.

“And it is just as big a threat as it was then and perhaps even more so, because we have people who are running for president of the United States who proudly call themselves socialists,” she said, without naming any. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, is a self-described democratic socialist.

Cheney charged that this year's Democratic majority in the House has “embraced socialism,” “enabled anti-Semitism,” and implicitly supported infanticide by rejecting certain Republican legislation to more strictly regulate abortion.

“So we're seeing the Democrats take these unbelievably radical positions, move to the left and then lecture us on immorality,” Cheney said, mentioning Democrats' criticism of GOP efforts to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

An estimated 350 people attended the Lincoln Day Dinner, among them Republican candidates in the party's May 7 primary election. Candidates including mayoral nomination rivals John Crawford and Tim Smith paraded on stage before Cheney's remarks, introducing themselves and giving brief remarks about their campaigns.

Cheney, 52, the daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney, chairs the House Republican Conference, the third-ranking position in her caucus. When introducing her, Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, said about Cheney, “There is no one who is tougher, there is no one who defends the right to life on the House floor and in committee hearings (than Cheney), and there is no one, I tell you, there is no one who stands up for our troops the way that Liz Cheney does in the Congress as well.”

At a recent Lincoln Day Dinner in northwest Ohio, Cheney was quoted by news media as saying Democrats could not be both the party of Sanders and of John F. Kennedy. The Journal Gazette asked Cheney at a pre-dinner news conference whether Republicans could be both the party of Reagan and Abraham Lincoln and the party of President Donald Trump.

Cheney said they could, and she repeated her response during her after-dinner speech.

“What we experienced during Ronald Reagan's presidency has tremendous similarities to what we're seeing today, when you're talking about the kind of economic growth we're seeing, ... when you're talking about restoring America's strength and power around the world. All of those things that President Reagan's policies brought us, we're now seeing again with President Trump in the White House,” she said.

During the news conference, she said: “We are very proudly the party of Lincoln and of Reagan and of Donald Trump, And the policies that this president is putting in place are really going to be on the ballot in 2020 for people to choose between freedom and opportunity and progress and security or the kind of socialism and expanded government control over every aspect of our lives that the Democrats are offering.”

Cheney repeatedly insisted during the news conference that socialists are trying to take over the Democratic Party and Congress, and Banks backed her up. He accused Democrats of “terrible socialist policies that would really harm the American economy and the future of this country,” including the Green New Deal on climate change and universal government-sponsored health care, also known as “Medicare for all.”

Cheney closed her Friday night speech by calling for Republicans to “do our best not just to resist the resistance but to stand up and talk about what we believe and why we believe it – why we believe we ought to protect the unborn, why we believe that America is the greatest that's ever existed on the face of the Earth, why we believe that the free enterprise system has raised more people out of poverty than any system ever existing before.”

bfrancisco@jg.net