On Saturday, the Cleburne County Republican women sponsored a Reagan Day Dinner at the Quality Inn to honor the late president and raise funds for local Republican candidates. Participants paid $25 a plate or could reserve a table for 6 for $150. The keynote speaker was Congressman Ed Bethune with special guests Curtis Coleman and Senator Missy Irvin.
The event began with a silent auction at 5pm. Tables displayed various donated items that included items such as gift baskets, a photo of George and Laura Bush, and Mitt Romney's book. Those interested in these items were allowed to submit their bid on the appropriate sheet for a particular item. The auction was part of the fundraising effort by the Cleburne County Republican Women for their local candidates.
Around 6:30, the formal event began with a prayer, presentation of the flag, and a singing of the National Anthem. A video of various speeches by Ronald Reagan played in the background as guests were served. The speeches highlighted Reagan's belief that religion should be a part of public life and his quixotic stories about the state of the country during his administration.
Paulette Yarbrough introduced guest speaker Curtis Coleman after the presentation of Reagan clips. Coleman called for a revival of the conservative philosophy of the Reagan administration. He also used an etymological interpretation of the word "political" to argue that public policy and politicians should reflect the Christian gospels of the Bible in public life. Coleman responded to charges by the Zac White campaign that White's opponents are portraying Arkansas in a negative light for political purposes. "If anyone thinks Arkansas is a fantastic place to live, it's Senator Missy Irvin", said Coleman. He went on to say, "Arkansas is a fantastic place, but it can be better." He also criticized Governor Beebe for calling Arkansas a "poor state". Coleman ended his speech by providing Biblical quotes consistent with the theme of his speech.
After Mr. Coleman spoke, keynote speaker Congressman Ed Bethune took the podium. Congressman Bethune took office in 1978 and was the first Republican to be elected to the House of Representatives from Arkansas in 104 years. Bethune reflected on his experience during the Reagan years and compared the current end of Obama's first term in office to the same period in the Carter presidency. He said Romney is in the same boat Reagan was in during this point in the campaign in 1980. Bethune also referenced the recent political debate between President Obama and Romney, criticizing the President's weak debate performance. He described Romney as "strong" and "successful" while characterizing Obama as "surly" and "lazy".
The evening ended on a high note with an appearance by Senator Missy Irvin, who spoke to an energized crowd about her experiences and plans for the district.
In addition to the speeches, Dara Samuel was awarded the Outstanding Republican Woman of the Year 2012 Award. Helen Puckett was awarded the 2012 Larry Smith Award for her outstanding participation in the Cleburne County Republican women for many years.