By Nicole M. Wells, Special Writer
CRANBURY — Yet another round of winter walloping couldn’t dissuade county Republicans from coming out “for the Gipper” Sunday afternoon, to the sixth annual Middlesex County Republican Women’s Club Reagan Day event at The Cranbury Inn.
Around 100 party faithful braved slush-sloshed roads and frigid temperatures to celebrate the legacy of GOP standard-bearer Ronald Reagan and the conservative ideals he has come to symbolize.
“I was thrilled, absolutely thrilled with the turnout,” club President Sue Tisiker said. “It says a lot about Middlesex County Republicans and their enthusiasm and I see that.”
As the program began, Ms. Tisiker invited all the United States armed services veterans in the room to the podium, where they were recognized with a round of applause before leading the audience in the pledge of allegiance.
Conservative Commandos Radio Show Co-host Anna Little then led everyone in singing “God Bless America” and Spotswood Republican Club President Cheryl Bass offered up a prayer for the nation before
Ms. Tisiker officially welcomed the GOP’ers to the celebration.
Deeming it too long, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno interrupted state Senator Sam Thompson’s (R-12) introduction for her, to talk about the dedication of Middlesex County Republicans in all kinds of weather.
“That’s why you’re here today, on an icy and snowy day,” she said. “That’s why you came out today, because you believe what Reagan believed: smaller government, smarter government.”Republicans in Middlesex County are changing the way the game is played in New Jersey, Ms. Guadagno said.
“Everybody used to say, you couldn’t win New Jersey unless you won Bergen County,” she said. “Well, ladies and gentleman, Chris Christie did not win Bergen County in 2009. He won Middlesex County.”
Small plates in hand, attendees noshed on hors d’oeuvres and mingled with those of similar political stripes at tables turned out in patriotic red, white and blue.
“Right Hook Radio” Producer Anne McGlynn filled in at the last second for program Host Steve Hook, who was marching in a traditional St. Patrick’s Day parade.
Ms. McGlynn said that while the people possess the will, America today is lacking in leadership.
“Here we are in 2015, and how we wish Ronald Reagan were here to set things straight in the world,” she said. “The Middle East is on fire, militant leaders around the world have never been stronger and our national debt never higher.”
But although limited government, foreign policy, the economy and national security are important issues, for Republicans, it’s also about ending abortion and infanticide, Ms. McGlynn said.
“And (it’s about) leaders who are willing to grow a spine,” she said.
Assorted Reagan memorabilia was on display and a cardboard cutout of the Great Communicator stood perpetually at the ready for pictures.
Just outside the timber-frame banquet hall, attendees milled around tables laden with silent auction items, placing their bids pseudo-silently as they chatted with friends and acquaintances.
Swarovski crystal-encrusted jewelry sparkled invitingly and campaign-style buttons, men’s neckties and scarves were among the items offered for sale at the neighboring Republican and patriotic boutique.
“I just think we really could use Ronald Reagan again,” Debbie Walker, 59, of Old Bridge, said, when asked why she came out. “I just don’t think the people have the guts to say the things he said. He was just such a strong man.”
Marianne Langman, 72, of Old Bridge, said she came to the event with her daughter, who received an invitation.
“I’m going to start (coming to more events like Reagan Day),” she said. “Things got a little busy and hectic at home and I had some health issues that kept me from meeting but I want to get back in.”
Ms. Langman said that Reagan Day was her first time at The Cranbury Inn and that she was enjoying herself.
Founder of the Save Jersey blog Matt Rooney talked about the importance of Republican candidates having a meaningful message for voters while cake and coffee circulated.
“Wearing bold colors, not wearing pale pastels – it made him (Gov. Chris Christie) a national figure and it’s what put him on the map,” he said. “So I encourage you to go out there in 2015 and win one for the Gipper but remember how we’re going to do it: We’re not going to do it by losing who we are.”
Mr. Rooney said that he still thinks the Republican Party has a rendezvous with destiny but only if it gives the people a reason to support it.
Platinum sponsors of the event included Dr. Anita Greenberg; Anna Little; East Brunswick Republicans; Edison Republican Organization; John Vrtaric, chairman of the Woodbridge Republicans; Monroe Township Republicans; South Brunswick Republicans; The Lincoln Club of New Jersey; 12th District Legislators, including state Senator Sam Thompson, Assemblymen Ron Dancer and Rob Clifton; and 16th District Legislators, including state Senator Kip Bateman, Assemblymembers Jack Ciattarelli and Donna Simon.
By Nicole M. Wells, Special Writer