About 300 people gathered Saturday evening for the annual Reagan Day Dinner at the Capitol Theatre.
The dinner is sponsored each year by the Wilson County Republican Party and featured former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as keynote speaker.
U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Gallatin, introduced Gonzales via pre-recorded video as she was unable to attend the dinner due to a Congressional vote to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, also known as Obamacare, which passed the House on Saturday.
The measure remained blocked in the Senate on Monday ahead of an imminent federal government shutdown at midnight.
Black told of how Gonzales was nominated by and served under former President George W. Bush as the nation’s first Hispanic attorney general. He and his wife, Rebecca, now live in Nashville, where he is a law professor at Belmont University.
Gonzales told the crowd about the responsibilities he had as attorney general as a member of the Bush administration.
“It is special,” Gonzales said. “It is exciting, every activity, every decision made in the White House.”
Gonzales also spoke of what makes a great president and included former President Ronald Reagan in that classification.
“Fundamentally, the presidency is about decision making. Andy Carr, President Bush’s first chief of staff, often said that presidents have the courage to be lonely. By that he meant that the tough decisions belong with the president alone. The courage to be lonely means being willing to push an agenda or make a decision that is controversial because it is right.
“A great president has grand vision for America’s continued greatness. He projects hope and optimism, not arrogance, but pride in being an American.”
Gonzales also talked about being in the White House situation room during the execution of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“We had just witnessed history,” he said. “Like Lincoln during the Civil War, Wilson during World War I and FDR during World War II, f or the second time in his presidency, President Bush had ordered men and women into harm’s way. I had the opportunity to witness leadership during 9-11 and its aftermath.
“I advised President Bush during two wars and 50 state and federal executions. You need to have faith in a higher power for guidance and strength to make the right decisions when a life hangs in the balance. For that reason, I believe it is vital to the welfare to have someone in office who believes in God and the power of prayer.”
Wilson County Republican Party chairman Clark Boyd also recognized the Mt. Juliet Young Republicans and the club’s work at Mt. Juliet High School and throughout west Wilson County. A video, called “I’m the Elephant in the Room, put together by the group, was played during the dinner.