Without a doubt, the most strident candidate at Friday’s Lincoln Day Dinner was businessman Peter Schiff, one of the GOP’s U.S. Senate hopefuls.
When he got up to talk, he held up his drink and said if he’d known he was going to address the crowd, he probably would have imbibed less. He was still pretty sober, though.
Having a drink or two is nonetheless always a good start, from a reporter’s perspective, particularly when it’s possible he doesn’t even know the press is in the room.
I’ll get back to what he said, but my favorite moment in his 5-minute talk came near the end, when his cell phone rang.
As he grabbed the phone and peered at the number of the caller, Schiff asked, “What is that? My ex-wife?”
He said she always calls at the worst times.
Then Schiff added, “I don’t learn from my mistakes. I’m getting married again in May.”
Most of his speech, though, focused on a blistering diatribe against what’s going on in Washington.
“We are on a collision course for disaster,” Schiff said.
But, he argued, voters in Connecticut “can do something to change the course.”
They can do it, of course, by electing him.
Schiff said the Republican leadership in the nation’s capital “has sold us out.”
He said the GOP leadership has compromised on too much for too long.
Schiff said he won’t bend.
“I want to win the ideological battle in Washington,” Schiff said.
He said the nation has to put the brakes on runaway spending. He said the government is twice the size it was a decade ago and it’s still growing.
“It’s a self-perpetuating cycle,” he said, and represents a disastrous course if there is no reform.
Right off the bat, Schiff said, he would refuse to increase the debt ceiling another penny, essentially capping the money the government could spend.
If enough Republicans say no to any increase – and filibuster any effort to hike spending -- “then the government has to cut. They have no choice,” he said.
With a $14 trillion debt ceiling looming, Schiff said, it’s time to say no higher.
“That’s not going to pass with me in the Senate,” he said.
Schiff said he understands the destructive policies undertaken in Washington and wants the chance “to prevent the worst case from happening.”
He said there are only one or two years left “to get this done. Otherwise, I think we’re finished.”
“The government is the source, not the solution, to our problems,” Schiff said.
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