ST. GEORGE — Hundreds of people gathered at the Dixie Center St. George Saturday evening for a celebration of conservatism in Southern Utah and to hear keynote speaker, noted author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza.
The Washington County Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner sold over 800 tickets to the public and featured several high-profile guests as well as D’Souza, including Gov. Gary Herbert and Sen. Orrin Hatch.
The mood was celebratory and energetic for both the presenters and audience whose political party now holds the White House and the majority in Congress.
See video in the media player top of this report.
“It was a great year for the Republican Party, so I think there was a lot of enthusiasm, they were happy to be here,” Washington County Republican Party chair Robert Jensen said.
Despite its victorious tone, the evening’s discussion focused on what a few of the speakers termed as the “battles” ahead with topics of discussion ranging from public lands to so-called “fake news.”
“It seems to me that we, as Republicans, we have a big fight on our hands,” D’Souza said.
A major point of discussion included the ongoing public lands debate.
“We’ve been personally hurt by the Obama administration, by Obama’s tenure, by his lame duck last minute executive action,” Hatch said in reference to President Barack Obama’s establishment of the Bears Ears National Monument.
Hatch said he recently met with President Donald Trump and spent more than an hour discussing issues affecting Utah voters, particularly public lands.
“I was encouraged that unlike his predecessor, President Trump actually took the time to listen and understand the heavy toll of this overreaching action.”
He said Trump was willing to stand with him on the issue and would continue to listen to his concerns.
“Over the next four years, I expect the debate over public lands will be dramatically different from what we have because of who we have in the white house,” Hatch said. “And we have him on our side in the fight for local control.”
State Sen. Don Ipson said he and fellow state legislators had already prepared a resolution to draw back the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante monuments for Hatch to present to Trump.
“We need to get this public property back to the public that it belongs to,” Ipson said.
In his keynote, D’Souza claimed three institutions are currently under the control of the Democratic Party: academia, Hollywood and the media.
“This isn’t just a political fight; it’s a broader cultural fight,” D’Souza said.
The press and so-called “fake news” was mentioned several times by different speakers.
“We live in a time of fake news,” Rep. Chris Stewart said in a prepared videocast.
Stewart argued the press has acted irresponsibly in its coverage of the Trump administration.
“I think honestly the responsible media – the mainstream media – they just absolutely lost their minds in some cases in their opposition to this new administration,” Stewart said.
D’Souza made a similar argument, recollecting when news media focused on polls in the U.S. 2016 general election that more or less guaranteed a win for candidate Hillary Clinton.
“I’m still haunted by these images of reporters and press, you know, huffing and puffing to drag that crooked hag across the finish line,” D’Souza said in reference to election night coverage.
He went on to argue that the so-called “liberal media” are campaigning against the Trump administration with misinformation.
“This is perhaps the most distinguishing feature of the Trump presidency – is that all bets are off,” D’Souza said, noting that the president would not back down from a fight.
D’Souza has influenced public policy through his many writings and has authored several New York Times bestsellers and his most recent film, “Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democrat Party,” presenting audiences with well-documented and troubling facts about the Democratic Party and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the county Republican Party’s news release stated. The film was released in the thick of the 2016 presidential campaign season.
Read more about D’Souza: ‘Hillary’s America’ filmmaker to speak at ‘Lincoln Day Dinner’
D’Souza’s latest book, “Hillary’s America,” was on offer at the end of the event. He stayed to offer signatures and meet the public.
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