As one former speaker of the House famously said, "All politics is local." It wasn't my dad, former Speaker Newt Gingrich, who said that, but the illustrious Tip O'Neill -- a down-to-earth Massachusetts Democrat who understood the power of local politicians.
This week, while campaigning on behalf of my father, I was reminded that local politicians and political activists really do fire the engine of our republic. In Canton, Ohio, I attended the Stark County Republican Party's 67th annual McKinley Banquet, where dozens of individuals running for local office were recognized by their fellow party faithful. They are determined to make a difference in their community through serving their country by running for office.
Presidential politics might be exciting, but local politicians determine the details of our lives. They vote on local health, safety and zoning regulations, decide school funding and curriculum questions, and generally provide the local leadership that make our communities function. It is very important that people run and serve in these offices, and in Stark County, Ohio, they are doing just that.
The fun part of the visit was running into former Rep. Ralph Regula and his wife Mary. Regula told me a story about my dad traveling to Ohio in the late '70s/ early '80s to make a fundraising speech at Regula's request. Dad made it to Ohio, but his luggage did not -- resulting in the young congressman from Georgia making his speech in hiking boots.
The next morning, I was off again -- destination at the end of the day Birmingham, Ala., for the Alabama GOP Winter Dinner. The ballroom at the Birmingham Sheraton was packed with elected officials, volunteers and activists, and the turnout was impressive. Squired around by Senate Majority Leader Jabo Waggoner, it was fun to run into old friends and meet new supporters. The excitement on the ground for Dad's campaign was palpable as I greeted supporters and took pictures with volunteers.
The next day included traveling to Alpharetta, Ga., and lunching with the Georgia Federation of Republican Women. Growing up in politics, I've always believed that while men might have the microphone, it's the women in the political arena who get things done. And it's no different in the Republican Party. These women get things done.