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Spirit of Reagan added to local GOP dinner

April 20, 2010|By ANDREW SCHOTZ
  • Author Tony Blankley, center, the featured speaker at the Washington County Republican Central Committee's Lincoln-Reagan Dinner, visits with Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, right, and James Warner, of Rohrersville, who had worked with Blankley in the Reagan administration.
By Kelly Hahn Johnson/Staff Photographer,

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- After years honoring Abraham Lincoln at an annual dinner, Washington County Republicans have attached the name of a second GOP president to their event - Ronald Reagan.

Fittingly, two men who worked together under Reagan spoke at Monday's dinner at Fountain Head Country Club near Hagerstown, one introducing the other.

James H. Warner of Rohrersville, a prisoner of war in Vietnam for 5 1/2 years, was a domestic policy adviser to Reagan from 1985 until 1989.

He said his friend Tony Blankley, a speechwriter and senior policy analyst for Reagan, liked to dive into heavy topics.

In 1987, as he was knee deep in history of the Great Depression, the stock market crashed. Before economic advisors could react, "Tony had already written a memo and it was in the president's hands," Warner said.

About 180 people were there Monday as Blankley - the press secretary to former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and a current political columnist - spoke.

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Gingrich spearheaded a 1994 midterm swing for Republicans.

Blankley described 2010 as "a year of reckoning" that could lead to a restoration of conservative values - perhaps like 1980, when Reagan benefited from backlash against one-term Democrat Jimmy Carter.

The next rebound could be more forceful than the revolutionary era of 1968, Blankley suggested. This time, he said, "there's a fear that we're going to lose the country."

He said one side effect of current dissatisfaction with Democratic control in Washington, D.C., has been a newfound focus on learning the Constitution.

In a three-year period, Reagan helped shift the percentage of self-identifying "conservatives" from 28 to 34, Blankley said.

Asked if another Reagan-like figure looms, Blankley said it's more likely that a solid message will unify the party, then a leader will emerge.

In the printed dinner program, Washington County Republicans summarized their "Right Turns For America" platform as: strict interpretation of the Constitution, protecting life, strong defense and secure borders, limited government and lower taxes.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we are at war," Washington County Republican Central Committee Chairwoman Paula Lampton told the crowd, "and the left cannot win."

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