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Jon Voight Rips Obama at GOP Fundraiser

Jon Voight Rips Obama at GOP Fundraiser

By Kyle Trygstad - June 9, 2009

Actor Jon Voight proved last night that there are conservative Republicans in Hollywood. Yes, it's true, though House and Senate Republicans could hardly believe it.

Some 2,000 people joined 33 GOP senators and about 150 House members at the annual fundraising dinner for the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee. The GOP campaign arms raised a combined $14.5 million from the affair, held at the Washington Convention Center.

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While the buzz centered on the presence of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and the keynote address by former Speaker Newt Gingrich, Voight, who emceed the event, gave an opening speech that left many, well, speechless.

"Everything Obama has recommended has turned out to be disastrous," Voight said, before listing the economic stimulus package, government-owned car companies, rising unemployment, Israel and health care. Voight said Obama "turned out to be radically liberal," and said Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Obama adviser David Axelrod, among others, are to blame "for the downfall of this country."

"We and we alone are the only people who can free this nation from this Obama oppression," said Voight, who made several appearances last year at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Upon stepping to the podium, elected officials were elated with the speech and joked that it may hurt Voight's future employment opportunities.

"One of the most courageous acts in our society today is to stand up in Hollywood and say you're a conservative Republican," said Rep. Paul Ryan (Wisc.), who introduced the Oscar-winning actor.

"Wasn't that a great speech?" asked Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah).

"Isn't it a refreshing thing to hear a person from Hollywood give the kind of speech Jon did tonight," said NRSC Chairman John Cornyn. "Jon, we need more people like you in Hollywood to speak their conscience."

"I'm still just reveling in hearing someone from Hollywood give a speech like that," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Kent.). "I hope you're going to be able to find work after this."

Gingrich, opening what would be close to an hour-long speech, said Voight "has given you the battle cry for the next few years," referencing a quote Voight used from his characterization of President Franklin Roosevelt in the movie, "Pearl Harbor."

"I think the phrase, 'Don't tell me it can't be done,' is about as good a way to start thinking about 2010 and 2012 as you could imagine," Gingrich said. "I recognize that 2009 is not 1994. But I want to say to you Republicans -- we have been here before."

The theme of the night among the Senate and House leaders was party unity and winning back control of Congress. McConnell referred to Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) as "my buddy," and Boehner said he "could not have a greater partner."

Cornyn and NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions, both from Texas, expressed optimism for the midterm elections. "I'm excited about our opportunities in 2010," Cornyn said. Sessions stepped to the podium and held up the card denoting his table number: 218, which happens to be the number of House seats needed for a majority. "Our job on the House side is to retire Nancy Pelosi," he said.

Facing a 78-seat deficit in the House and down to just 40 seats in the Senate, winning back Congress next year will be a tall order. However, as Gingrich reiterated at the close of his speech, Republicans -- at least publicly -- think they have a chance.

"Do not tell me it can't be done. It was true for FDR. It's true for us."

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Kyle Trygstad is a Washington correspondent for RealClearPolitics. Email him at: kyle@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @KyleTrygstad.

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