The political healing process began Wednesday evening for members of the Utah County Republican Party as they gathered for the annual Lincoln Day Dinner.
Speaking to more than 350 GOP members, pollster Dan Jones reflected the sentiments of many in the audience when he said, "I have come to mend wounds, not create them."But many of the wounds from the past year's election still remain. Jones expressed his concern over the split in the party during the primaries and emphasized his disenchantment with the way the GOP treated its candidates.
"I think what happened to Karl Snow during the election was abominable," he said. "It's time in the 3rd Congressional District, that you don't allow other parties to choose your candidates."
In a direct plea to the media, Jones said, "I ask you to quit dwelling on the private lives of candidates and print the issues."
Jones wasn't the only one to address the media. Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, expressed his concern over the way the national press corps is working in the Middle East.
"Is there any common sense left?" he asked. "Don't they understand those daily briefings and the stupidity of their questions?"
Garn said he would like to share his disgust in light of media reaction to Wednesday's bombing of what authorities say was a military installation, where hundreds of Iraqi civilians were killed.
"Saddam (Hussein) set us up with those civilians. There were military signals being sent from that location as of Tuesday," Garn said. "The only thing Saddam has left is public opinion. The U.S. media is being used as Hussein's propaganda arm."
He asked the media, "Why don't you blame the man responsible for the deaths on both sides? Saddam can stop it (the war) right now. This senator is going to call it like it is."
Fellow Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch shared his dismay over many of his peers' weak support of the president. After the information the Senate was given about Saddam, they still voted 52-47 to maintain economic sanctions, he said.
"Everybody there knew that sanctions would not work in less than a year," Hatch said. "What the President and Jim Baker did to get the United Nations to join forces is one of the greatest foreign policy feats ever."
Hatch said that if not stopped, Saddam would have continued to build a large arsenal of chemical, biological and nuclear weaponry to be ready within two to five years.
"Every member of Congress knew about this. The man (Saddam) is capable of using weapons of mass destruction."
While Garn and Hatch were voicing concerns about Operation Desert Storm, Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, alluded to the storm of events within the Republican party and his optimism for the future.
"I am the only Republican congressman in the state, but I think that will change," he said. "We have a lot of work to do before 1992."