BUCKHANNON – The first woman ever elected to United States Senate from the State of West Virginia said she’s proud to support President Donald Trump Sunday at the Republican Executive Committee’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner.
During her keynote speech at the luncheon, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said she believed Trump had largely followed through on his 2016 campaign promises and predicted he will be a formidable candidate in the 2020 election.
Before delving into why she’s a strong Trump supporter, Capito began with a bit of humor.
“It’s a very interesting time to be in the United States Senate, I can tell you that,” she said, looking out at the crowd gathered in the 88 Restaurant & Lounge. “Every morning, what’s the first thing I do? Check my Twitter feed and see what’s new, because we know the president gets up very early. We wonder sometimes, ‘does he ever sleep?’ because he’ll tweet late at night and then again in the morning.”
Kidding aside, Capito said she’s proud to be a serious supporter of the president.
“I’m proud to support the president,” Capito said. “He has come through with the things he said, initially, when he ran, that he was going to do.”
For starters, Capito said Trump had delivered on his campaign promise relative to tax reform.
“What’s the result of tax reform? Lower unemployment, higher wages, more people working, more opportunity, certainly, we’re seeing in the state of West Virginia,” she said. “Everybody’s taxes – tax rates – went down individually. We did small business tax reform, so people could invest in their companies and hire more people and expand their businesses – all the things that grow the economy…”
Capito said the country is moving in the right direction, “and we’re competitive around the globe, finally.”
“I’m proud of the results of more people having more jobs, more opportunity, and that optimistic feeling of, ‘we’re making America great again,’” she said.
Capito said Trump has also made good on his promise to challenge China on the trade front.
“The other thing the president said he was going to do, was he was going to challenge China … and right now, he’s telling China, ‘we’re not going to let you rip us off anymore in the trade arena’ … ‘you’re not going to steal our jobs, we want an even playing field.’”
Capito acknowledged that the ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China has caused tumult in several business sectors.
“There’s certain areas … in the automobile industry, the steel industry, aluminum industry, agriculture products … that we haven’t evened out,” she said. “Some of my friends in the big ag states are really having an issue with the president’s very firm stance on trade with China, but at the end of the day, I feel confident that the president’s going to get a better deal for us.”
Capito said U.S. presidents have, in the past, made the mistake of assuming China and other foreign countries are “basic truth tellers” like the U.S.
“The president doesn’t assume that. He’s been around. We’ve heard presidents in the past say, ‘China’s taking advantage of us,’ but they never did anything,” Capito remarked. “I think before the next election, the president’s going to be able to have a conclusion to the China trade issue that’s going to give him something good to run on.”
The junior senator said she’s proud to stand with the president on his nomination of Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, both of whom she described as “very conservative-thinking, Constitution-minded justices.”
“These are consequential picks because they’re both, relatively speaking, young to the court … They’re going to serve for 20 or 30 years,” Capito said. “These two justices are going to represent what we think: Let’s look at the Constitution, let’s adhere to the Constitution. Let’s not make law and perform politics from the bench of the Supreme Court.
“And that’s why I was proud to support them. The president picked incredible, incredible individuals.”
Capito briefly touched on the drama surrounding the Kavanaugh hearing, saying it was the first time in her political career she’d ever been concerned for her safety.
“It’s the only time in my service of almost 18 years that I felt my own personal safety was a little iffy,” she said. “The other side (Democrats) had their people so stirred up, mad, angry, upset that all mores of personal respect and personal space went away.”
“We don’t need to conduct debate like this,” Capito added. “Just because I don’t agree with who you’re appointing to the Supreme Court doesn’t give me the right to get into an elevator and start yelling at you … which is what you saw happening.”
Capito’s comments were a reference to two women confronting Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, about his decision to vote in favor of nominating Kavanaugh, despite allegations of sexual misconduct.
Capito called for Republicans to be leaders in striking a more civilized tone.
“We’ve got to calm the rhetoric down,” she said. “I think as Republicans we can lead the way on this. We need to do better for the young people in the room.”
Noting she’s planning on running in 2020, Capito said she thinks Republicans have reason to be optimistic about the general election.
However, Capito said she believes Republicans need to develop a plan for health care and abandon repeal-and-replace efforts.
Although she’s staunchly against a single-payer program, such as Medicare for all, Capito suggested Republicans preserve the aspects of the Affordable Care Act that are popular – such as coverage for pre-existing conditions, allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance policies until age 26 and eliminating lifetime caps – and tweak them.
“Those are three big things in Obamacare that people like, and that I like,” Capito said, “so, let’s create a program around that so we can then sell insurance across state lines, we can have small business plans, we can have portability insurance, where if you’re working at a job and you change jobs or lose your job or move jobs, you can take your insurance with you.
“That, I think, would be the market solution to health care.”
Also on Sunday, the Upshur County Republican Executive Committee, headed by chairperson Patty Adams and vice chairperson LeVera Gillum, honored several individuals, including 27-year-old Del. Carl “Robbie” Martin, R-45, who represents West Virginia’s 45th District and is the owner/operator of the 88 Restaurant & Lounge.
Martin, who has been a dedicated Republican since an early age, was named Most Outstanding Republican of the Year. In addition to serving in the House of Delegates, he previously spent three years on the Upshur County Board of Education.
Former West Virginia Senator Robert Karnes, who represented the 11th Senatorial District from 2014-2018, and former Upshur County Commissioner Troy A. “Buddy” Brady each received Shining Star Service awards.
In addition to serving six years as a county commissioner, Brady logged more than 30 years of public service primarily as an Upshur County Sheriff’s deputy. Karnes works in the IT field.
Twenty-year-old Caiden Cowger, who, in 2016, was named one of the most influential Republicans under age 30 by Newsmax, was honored with the Republican Spirit Award. In 2018, Cowger launched Cowger Creative, which offers video production and marketing services to conservative politicians and other entities.
Upshur County Clerk Carol Smith, who has worked full time in the county clerk’s office since 2000, was named Republican Volunteer of the Year. Smith serves as a board member on the Upshur County Public Library Board and as the secretary of the West Virginia Association of Counties.