The New York Conservative Party held their annual fundraiser at the midtown Sheraton last night, but the talk of the evening wasn’t on the election in two weeks but the one in two years as 2012 possible presidential hopeful, South Dakota Senator John Thune, delivered the keynote address.
“I appreciate being in New York because my family got their start in New York–in New York City–when two Norwegian brothers came in through Ellis Island,” Thune said.
His speech touched on the political inspiration he gathered from President Reagan, the dangers posed by a large national debt, the conservative ideals of limited government and the “ingenuity and creativity” of the American people.
“I think [the American dream] is really at great risk,” Thune said. “I believe at the federal level, unless we change direction, we’re headed for a train wreck.”
“People are beginning to mention his name a lot, especially when the subject of 2012 comes up,” said the event’s emcee, Jim Kerr, host of the Rock & Roll Morning Radio show.
All of the major Conservative Party candidates attended, including Jay Townsend and Joe DioGuardi, as well as gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, who made a last minute appearance before heading to the Al Smith dinner.
Rick Lazio also swung by the event though it is unlikely that the two crossed paths because of Paladino’s quick exit from the event.
After the formal remarks of the evening DioGuardi echoed Thune’s sentiments, and pivoted back to his own senatorial race.
“We’re putting the American dream in jeopardy,” DioGuardi said. “I’m your Paul Revere, but I’m not warning about King George, I’m about Washington! Why do we need another lawyer in the Senate? We need a Certified Public Accountant.”
While it was subtly understood by the audience that Thune’s quick visit–he left the event after making one sweep of handshakes through the 200 person event–was a way to put a face to his name with New York voters, the Senator’s sole response to a specific legislative question came as he was walking out the door. When asked about the 9/11 First Responder’s Health Compensation Bill, which recently passed the House and will be put to the Senate in the coming session, he remained politically neutral.
“I haven’t looked closely at it yet, obviously it’s an important issue to a lot of people up here so we’ll put in a lot of consideration when it comes before us,” Thune said. “I’m sure there’ll be an effort in the Senate to offset it, in terms of the cost.”