Almost 500 Republicans attended the annual Lincoln Day Gala at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 in Fort Lauderdale.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi was the featured keynote speaker at the Broward Republican Party event. Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Congressman Allen West (FL-22), and Republican National Committee co-chair Sharon Day were among special guest speakers in attendance.
Party Secretary Michael De Gruccio returned as the 2012 event chairman.
“It was my honor to return as chairman of the 2012 Broward County Lincoln Day Gala,” said De Gruccio. “We had an amazing keynote speaker followed by special guest speakers that not only honored the legacy of President Abraham Lincoln but our Republican elected officials.”
Prior to the dinner, BREC Chairman Richard DeNapoli hosted a VIP Reception for nearly 200 that included the Florida Attorney General, the state Chief Financial Officer, a prominent Congressman, the Republican National Committee Co-Chairman, a number of local, state, and federal officials as well as candidates for public office.
“The VIP reception offered an opportunity to chat one-on-one with Attorney General Pam Bondi, the keynote speaker and special guests CFO Jeff Atwater Congressman Allen West, and RNC Co-Chair Sharon Day” said DeNapoli. “Guests also had an opportunity to speak with candidates running for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, the Florida House and Senate, as well as local Broward County offices.”
Returning as auctioneer from appearances at both the 2011 Broward Lincoln Day Gala and the inaugural Grand Old Party BBQ was Highlands County Commissioner Don Elwell. Standing tall above the crowd, Elwell successfully raised thousands of dollars for local Republicans through a live auction.
Attorney General Pam Bondi opened the evening as the featured keynote speaker with a feisty and dynamic speech on a variety of issues. Bondi, who had just returned from a trip to New York and the taping of a segment on Sean Hannity, donated a pink tie - autographed by Hannity - for the evening’s live auction.
Still excited from her recent argument before the U.S. Supreme Court on the constitutionality of Obamacare, Bondi recalled some of her experiences concerning the case.
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater followed stating that “you have the state of Florida and our federal government taking two very different paths. In the great state of Florida where you have elected Rick Scott, where you have elected Pam Bondi, Adam Putnam, and a Republican legislature – this is what happens in a downturn. You get people that go to bat for you."
“Things in Florida are completely different from the federal government. The federal government has raised your taxes, raised the debt, increased regulation. In the state of Florida the last three years has been the exact opposite - your taxes were reduced, regulation was reduced, and debt was reduced.”
Congressman Allen West fired up conservatives, telling Republicans to “find the enemy and fight them wherever they are.” Like American paratroopers before the D-day invasion, West said they “must be like sharks that smell blood in the water.”
The audience applauded and cheered throughout his 19 minute speech, as West appeared before Broward Republican’s for a final time.
West concluded with words from the farewell speech given by Confederate General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson when he was promoted by Robert E. Lee.
"He said to his brigade they would always be first in his heart," said West. "Broward County will always be first in my heart, and I will never forget you," he told the standing room only crowd.
Special guest and Republican National Committee co-Chair Sharon Day was also encouraged by the work of the Broward Republican Executive Committee and stated so in an interview following the event.
“It was great to see so many Broward Republicans together in such a Democratic stronghold. Taking back the White House and the Senate is the only way we can save America.”
“Lincoln Day was an overwhelming success,” former Plantation Councilman and BREC Executive Director Rico Petrocelli stated. “It was encouraging to see many new faces from throughout Broward.”