Lincoln Dinner highlights: Walker in front, Fiorina cut off, Lindsey Graham is a comedian

Eleven GOP presidential hopefuls descended on Iowa Saturday night for the Lincoln Dinner. Each candidate was given 10 minutes to speak, and the event had some great takeaways.

Scott Walker is going to win Iowa. 

Polls indicate Iowa loves Scott Walker. He gave a mild speech last night, but his hospitality suite was bumping afterwards.

The well-attended party Walker’s team threw in its hospitality suite after the dinner gave a sense of the campaign’s commitment to winning the hearts of Iowa voters. Walker and supporters served Wisconsin-imported ice cream, cheddar squares and Miller Lite on white tablecloth-covered cocktail tables draped with red and blue runners and confetti. In one corner of the room, there was a DJ; in the other, passersby posed for pictures astride a Harley Davidson set up for the event and positioned in front of a backdrop with the logo for Walker’s Our American Revival PAC. “I can’t believe how big they went on this,” said a staffer to another candidate. “It tells you how hard they’re going to play for Iowa.”

Fiorina cut off, still crowd favorite 

She was killing it on stage while highlighting her foreign policy savvy and working the crowd. They loved her, but her mic was cut off after exceeding the ten minute mark. Donald Trump said it was rude to cut her off, but it might have worked in her favor, just leaving the crowd wanting more.

Downstairs at the Iowa Events Center after dinner, the line of people snaking into Fiorina’s hospitality suite stretched well out into the hallway, a noticeably longer queue than for any of her rivals. And everyone seemed to be buzzing about the former Hewlett Packard CEO. “She was very confident, probably one of the strongest speakers,” said Rick Haas, a Republican from Mason City. “She’s met with all those world leaders; she’s very strong on foreign policy.

Lindsey Graham is hilarious 

The South Carolina senator had fun with the crowd at half time, delivering his combination of charm and wit as he took tiny jabs at colleagues, including both of the senators from Iowa.

He started with some playful ribbing of the infamously frugal Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa): “The one thing I learned about this dinner is it was free for Chuck or he wouldn’t have been here!”

Then he showered love on Iowa’s junior senator, freshman Joni Ernst, who rose to national fame last year with her ad about hog castration. “Joni Ernst rocks! When I saw that ad with the pigs, I made sure I’d never offend Joni.”

However, the joke Sen. Graham had for Rand Paul was a combination of jest and a serious foreign policy point.

“If I’m president of the United States and you’re thinking about joining al-Qaeda or ISIL [the Islamic State], I’m not gonna call a judge,” Graham said, a reference to Sen. Rand Paul’s earlier remark about how the NSA should call a judge to obtain a warrant before tapping into people’s phone records. “I’m gonna call a drone and we will kill you.”


[Politico] [Washington Post] [AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall]