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Enzi, Cheney star attractions at Tea Party picnic

Sen. Mike Enzi speaks to people during a break in the program at Saturday’s Big Horn Basin Tea Party picnic, while his prospective challenger in the Republican primary, Liz Cheney, at left, does the same. Sen. Mike Enzi speaks to people during a break in the program at Saturday’s Big Horn Basin Tea Party picnic, while his prospective challenger in the Republican primary, Liz Cheney, at left, does the same. Tribune photo by Tom Lawrence

It was a race to the right.

U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi and Liz Cheney, who is running against him for the Republican nomination for Senate in 2014, were the most high-profile speakers during the third annual Big Horn Basin Tea Party picnic, held Saturday near the tiny community of Emblem, population 10.



More than 350 people attended the picnic, and they heard both Enzi and Cheney attack President Obama, criticize Obamacare and express their support for the conservative beliefs of their audience. They also witnessed Cheney take several digs at Enzi, who declined to engage in verbal jousting with his challenger. She said Washington was engaged in a “war on Wyoming,” and Enzi is not offering enough resistance.

“Now, we need someone in Washington who is going to lead on that issue, and frankly, not just cast votes,” Cheney said. “I don’t think, when you look at what’s going on in Washington today, that the answer is more compromise.”

Enzi, who is seeking a fourth term in the Senate, said he has cast more than 5,000 votes in the Senate, and realizes not everyone is happy with all those decisions, which he said were based on the best information available at the time.

“My wife doesn’t agree with me on all 5,000,” he said.

The three-term Republican senator, who turns 70 next year, said he works behind the scenes a lot and is known for making “elevator pitches” to other senators.

“I’m an old shoe salesman,” he said. “That’s the way I work.”

Enzi said he is in the midst of an annual 5,000-mile listening tour across the state. He said unlike town hall meetings, where a few topics are discussed, he hears about dozens of matters important to local residents during his stops in Wyoming communities during the summer recess.

While Enzi’s and Cheney’s speaking style differed, they agreed on most matters. Both said Obamacare needs to be discarded. Enzi said he had an idea for a health-care plan before Obama took office in 2009, but the president is not interested in it.

“He does not listen to the American people,” Enzi said. “He just campaigns.”

“Obamacare is a disaster for all of us,” Cheney said. “It is a disaster for the nation.”

Cheney criticized Enzi for a federal proposal to provide members of Congress and their staffs with a subsidy to buy health care coverage. But Enzi said he opposes the plan and will work to have it repealed.

“In Wyoming, the Legislature lives under every law it passes, and Washington ought to, too,” he said.

Enzi, who three times referred to himself as an accountant, a job he held before being elected to the Senate, said the government’s reckless spending helped give birth to the Tea Party movement. He said he can help battle against reckless spending.

Enzi said he voted to keep the Benghazi investigation on the front burner, and he also was concerned about the National Security Agency’s collection of Americans’ phone records, as well as other areas of government intrusion. He said he continues to seek an audit of Federal Reserve and favors a dollar coin, in part because coins are controlled by the U.S. Treasury, not the Federal Reserve.

“Good work, Tea Party,” he said as he left the stage, making a fist to salute the crowd.

Cheney, 47, said during her speech and in an interview afterward that she is enjoying the opportunity to run her own campaign, and it reminded her of being a little girl campaigning around Wyoming for her father, Dick Cheney, who was elected as Wyoming’s member of Congress six times.

Liz Cheney said after her speech that she and her father have agreed this is her race, and he does plan to become involved in it.

She said there are decisions made that changed the course of history and the fate of nations, such as when Winston Churchill led his people against Nazi Germany in the 1940s, when Margaret Thatcher saved Great Britain from its economic doldrums in the 1980s, and when Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980  and “saved us from the morass and malaise of the (Jimmy) Carter years.”

This is such a time in the United States, Cheney said. Republicans can no longer “go along to get along” and conduct business as usual.

“Senator Enzi gave us a tremendous list of what is wrong in Washington,” Cheney said.

The problem is not enough is being done to slow the expansion of the federal government and its intrusion into the every-day lives of Americans.

“All the compromise is coming from our side,” she said. “When all the compromise comes from one side, that is called capitulation. The party of Ronald Reagan, of this state ... we deserve better.”

In her strongest statement, Cheney accused the president of purposely harming the United States.

“Obama came into office intending to weaken the nation,” she said to a sustained round of applause. “Sadly, that’s what he’s been able to do.”

Cheney said people should be proud to try to stop actions proposed by Obama and other current leaders.

“I’m obstructing because I’m a patriot,” she said.

She said the president cannot be allowed to “operate outside the Constitution” and is only doing so, in her view, because he feels he has the support of the media and the American people.

Enzi received extended and warm applause. Cheney, however, got a standing ovation from some in the audience.

Tea Party officers said they are neutral on the race now, but the group may offer an endorsement. The 2014 Wyoming primary will be held on Aug. 19.

Lummis, others spoke

Rep. Cynthia Lummis also spoke, with her presentation placed between the speeches by Enzi and Cheney. Lummis said she remains proud of the role Wyoming plays in America’s nuclear defense, as land-based missiles are based in the state, as well as in Montana and North Dakota.

Kirk Lippold also spoke. He is the retired Naval officer who commanded the USS Cole when it was attacked on Oct. 12, 2000, by Al-Qaeda terrorists during a refueling stop in the Yemeni port of Aden, killing 17 U.S. sailors.

Other speakers included Tea Party member Bob Berry, FOX News contributor Wayne Simmons, who spent 27 years in the CIA, state Rep. Nathan Winters, Tim Macy of Gun Owners of America and Tom DeWeese of the American Policy Center.

The picnic was held at the ranch of lawyer Rob DiLorenzo, who introduced some of the speakers. The event opened with a prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance and “The Star Spangled Banner.”

DiLorenzo said people need to be alarmed about what is happening in the nation today. When the Tea Party group was formed in early 2009, its members were deeply concerned, he said.

“We no longer consider America at a tipping point, or at a pivotal point in our lives,” DiLorenzo said. “The Big Horn Basin Tea Party thinks America has gone mad. This is madness. And too many of us are going along with it.”

An airplane passed low over the gathering as it started, and Bob Ruckman, who was introducing the speakers, offered a quick bit of humor.

“Black ops, black ops,” Ruckman said. “I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist.”

Someone in the audience quickly responded: “No tail numbers.”

While the speakers fed political red meat to the audience, pork, beef and other items were served in a buffet line. The meals were free, and a cash bar was set up nearby.

While many people sipped pop or ice water, some drank beer or mixed drinks. Several people wore guns and/or knives strapped to their belts.

That captured the attention of Big Horn County Sheriff’s Deputy Debbie Cook, who was in uniform. Cook said while seeing alcohol and weapons mixing was slightly uncomfortable, with so many armed people at the event, it seemed unlikely any trouble would occur. Other members of the sheriff’s office were on hand as well, she said.

No trouble occurred as the people enjoyed the speeches and the atmosphere, with more than 100 American flags snapping in the wind on the property. Attendees shook hands and chatted with the politicians, ate, drank and talked with each other, and listened to country music during breaks in the program.


  • posted by Disgusted taxpayer

    September 03, 2013 8:22 am

    You bet,Dix...alcohol was smart..and just where did all the drunks drive to afterwards?

  • posted by Dix

    August 30, 2013 11:32 pm

    DT. Let's see why it was on private property. Catered, alcohol served, the TEA Party is not an official political party, and donations were solicited to pay for the event. You should have come it was great!

  • posted by Disgusted taxpayer

    August 29, 2013 8:44 am

    OK,Dix,then why don't they have a PUBLIC meeting in town where folks can listen and ask questions.This is nothing more than the usual shady politics that Wyoming,and Park County,is well known for.Little wonder why working folks are never represented.

  • posted by Dix

    August 28, 2013 5:29 pm

    Secret spot to have the meeting? It was in the papers, and the same place for three years.

    Seeing how many opinions Dewey has he should run for office next election.

  • posted by Dewey

    August 27, 2013 1:25 pm

    Never underestimate the real intentions of the candidates , nor overestimate the intelligence of the voters.

    I suppose Tex Berry will advise Lizzie to run a write-in campaign after she loses the Primary to the shoe salesman ...

  • posted by Disgusted taxpayer

    August 27, 2013 10:21 am

    The voters really got the shaft when these delusional clowns picked a secret spot to have a meeting.No public means no protesters or questions asked,just the RINO way in "good ol boys" country.

  • posted by clipstein

    August 27, 2013 10:10 am

    can the American public be so stupid as to voter for either one?

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