Bristol gets standing ovation at GOP dinner
By Karen Hall
The man whose radio show has been called "mandatory listening for conservative law makers and candidates," got a standing ovation at the end of his speech at the Marshall County Republican Party's annual Presidents Day dinner.
The large meeting room at the Recreation Center was filled with party members, plus legislators Scott DesJarlais, Bill Ketron, Jim Tracy, and Billy Spivey. Also present were many of the candidates for local, state, and national offices in the upcoming election.
Ralph Bristol has been the host of Nashville's Morning News since 2007. This is the top-rated morning-drive political talk show in Tennessee's largest radio market. The show can be heard here as well, and Bristol said, "I probably have more friends in Marshall County than in Nashville."
"I love to write long speeches," he said. "If I can stay awake, you can stay awake," referring to the fact he'd been awake since 1:30 a.m.
In fact, he spoke for just 35 minutes, and held everyone's attention.
Bristol talked about the challenges for talk radio and for the Republican party.
Both radio audiences and the party may be divided, he said.
The tea party's principles are limited government, fiscal responsibility, and a free market, and these are shared, to some extent, by Republicans.
"The Democrats dislike the tea party more than they dislike the Republicans," Bristol exclaimed. "They (the Democrats) want to grow government in every way.
"The Republican party and the tea party need to form a bond that will survive the primaries," he continued. "If the Republicans and the tea party would stop sniping at each other, they could improve support for tax reform."
Bristol called the "war on cronyism," by reforming the tax code, the key to uniting the tea party and the Republicans. This would include getting rid of the tax deduction for charitable giving.
"This would have major economic and moral benefits," he said.
"Entitlement reform" will take a little longer, Bristol said, noting that "means testing is how you make an entitlement program a welfare program.
"Republicans should re-think their affinity for means testing," he said.
It's easy to criticize and complain, but both the tea party and conservative talk radio will lose support if they do not start to present an optimistic vision of our future, said Bristol.
Realistically, he said, "If we're so influential, why do we have Obamacare? The biggest mistake talk radio show hosts make is think they can change the world."
The Republican party is divided into too many factions, Bristol concluded, and wondered if conservative talk radio is too divisive.
"We must overcome the rift or perish together," he said. "The Democratic party is the least divided.
"Thank you all for tolerating me as I try to change the world," said Bristol in conclusion.
After a standing ovation, Master of Ceremonies Wayne Coomes said, "Now we know why he's so popular. We would like to thank Ralph for his insight and all he's done for us."
Coomes announced this would be his final year as master of ceremonies for the dinner.
"It's been a wonderful experience, watching this party grow since 1994, when we could hold a meeting in a phone booth," he said. "At the early dinners we were happy to have 75 or 80 people; now there are 300 or more. I have had a wonderful time serving you. God bless each one of you, and God bless America!"