GOP faithful gathered Friday in tribute to the "Gipper," the former Hollywood screen legend and 40th President of the United States, the late Ronald Wilson Reagan, during the Ronald Reagan Republican Roundup at the Gin at Nesbit.
Attendees posed with a large cardboard cut-out of Reagan during the night of festivities, which centered around a country western theme.
But they also made a point to promote the Republican agenda which at present is to secure the nomination of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, protect and maintain U.S. borders and prevent the ascension of U.S. Senate and House Democrats to political control of Congress.
Keynote speaker U.S. Rep. Trent Kelly spoke out in favor of tougher immigration laws, noting that a skilled labor force can include legal immigrants to this country but their application for legal immigration status must be "merit based."
Kelly elicited boos from the partisan audience when he mentioned the name of U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
"Democrats believe in a bigger, larger government and the need for more regulation," Kelly said.
Kelly, a Brigadier General in the U.S. Army National Guard, said he recently traveled to border detention facilities in the American southwest and remarked that facilities for immigrant detainees were far better than some of the barracks for U.S. troops serving abroad.
"They have better living conditions than my soldiers who choose to serve this great nation," said Kelly, who serves on the U.S. Armed Services Committee.
"When I joined the military in 1995, there was a million-man standing army," said Kelly, arguing in favor of a 300-ship Navy to defend the U.S. and its allies.
On a more serious note, Kelly spoke about his close proximity to the shooter who critically wounded U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana during practice for the bipartisan Congressional baseball game last year.
Kelly noted that the shooter shot a total of 89 times and Kelly was the closest to the would-be assassin.
Kelly said it was only God's providence that saved him.
"A sixteenth of an inch to the right or the left - the width of a piece of chain-link fence - and he would have hit me in the chest," Kelly said. "I serve an awesome God. It wasn't my day to go."
When it was his turn at the podium to speak, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, the state's senior U.S. Senator, decried the current political climate in Washington.
"I've never seen the dirty tricks and shameful behavior that is occurring over our U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh," Wicker said. "I will listen very open-mindedly to the hearing and I just know that I will come to the same conclusion that this man belongs on the Supreme Court."
Lucien Smith, Chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party, said the Nov. 6 general election is shaping up to be a pivotal contest in the course of the nation's history.
"Control of the U.S. Senate could be decided right here in Mississippi," Smith said. "What we have to be reminded about is that on Nov. 27, (the date of installation of Senate leaders on Capitol Hill) that if you don't vote Republican on Nov. 6, you are voting for Chuck Schumer to be Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate."
Friday night's dinner was a fundraiser for the DeSoto County Republican Party.
Robert Lee Long is Community Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.