Committee Chairman Dwight Weidman on Wednesday announced Keene will be the keynote speaker during the organization’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner. Held at Green Grove Gardens, the event also will feature candidates for local, county and state offices.
“It’s basically to get our base out and get them psyched up,” Weidman said of the event’s purpose.
Last year, the dinner featured presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
On Feb. 3, as the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers squared off in the Super Bowl, Weidman was talking to state Sen. Richard Alloway, R-Franklin/Adams/York, about efforts to find a speaker for the Lincoln Day Dinner. Weidman said he had been unsuccessful to that point in signing up a speaker.
Alloway mentioned he would be talking to an NRA representative that week and offered to ask for possible speakers.
“I said to Rich, ‘You know, the Second Amendment and gun control are big issues now,’” Weidman said.
To tie in with the NRA president’s speech, the dinner’s organizers are hoping to feature a hunting rifle or shotgun as a door prize. Other prizes will be NRA memorabilia or related items.
Each $60 ticket for adults includes a one-year membership in the NRA or extension of an existing membership, Weidman said. Life members can use the one-year membership as a gift for someone else, he said.
For $100, attendees can get a ticket to the dinner and one for a 6:15 p.m. VIP reception. Individuals younger than 18 may purchase $25 dinner tickets that do not include NRA membership.
The menu has not yet been decided, Weidman said. The venue off Pa. 16 in Antrim Township, Pa., can accommodate up to 600 people, he said.
Keene has been president of the NRA since 2011 and chairman of the American Conservative Union since 1984. The NRA is a leading proponent of the right to bear arms, and the American Conservative Union is the nation’s oldest conservative lobbying organization.
Keene’s involvement in presidential politics extends back to the Nixon administration, in which he served as a special assistant to Vice President Spiro Agnew. His Capitol Hill experience includes executive assistant to New York Sen. Jim Buckley; Southern regional political director for Ronald Reagan’s 1976 presidential campaign; national political director for George Bush’s 1980 presidential race; senior adviser to former Sen. Bob Dole in 1988 and adviser to Dole’s presidential campaign in 1996, according to a biography provided by the Franklin County Republican Committee.
The Franklin County Republican Committee has invited Pennsylvania’s governor and lieutenant governor as well as other state and national politicians.
Weidman said a few tables had already been reserved within hours of making the announcement Wednesday.
“We’re expecting a pretty good response,” he said.
For more information or to purchase tickets, call 717-263-7999 or visit the GOP office at 293 South Gate Mall in Chambersburg, Pa.