SOUTH SALEM, N.Y. – Republicans from all over Westchester County gathered at the Horse & Hound restaurant in South Salem Tuesday night to watch President Barack Obama give his State of the Union address while having a little good-natured fun at the commander-in-chief’s expense.
It was the second year in a row the Republicans held the event, which was organized by Luke Vander Linden, vice chair of the Bedford Republican Committee.
“It’s an opportunity to get everyone to come together and have a little fun,” Vander Linden said. “This is our second one and we’d like to make it a tradition.”
Vander Linden said the viewing party wasn’t necessarily just an opportunity to mock the president, but rather to provide a venue to get together with like-minded people and watch the speech.
“We respect the office,” he said. “We want to see what he has to say,” Vander Linden said about Obama.
While the event was organized by the Vander Linden and the GOP town committees in northern Westchester, it drew both political neophytes and veterans from all around the county. Dave Tubiolo and his friend Lawrence Bianco came all the way from Yonkers to watch the speech with their fellow Republicans.
“I was here last year and everyone was very nice and accepting,” Tubiolo said. “It’s an opportunity to get together for something historic, something political and something fun.”
Bianco, who just graduated college, said he was new to the political scene, but saw the viewing party as a way to learn more about it.
“I’m just getting my feet wet,” he said. “I’ve always kind of kept an eye on politics and I want to stay informed.”
Lewisboro Deputy Supervisor Peter DeLucia said he enjoyed the camaraderie with his fellow Republicans and liked the opportunity to engage newcomers such as Tubiolo and Branco.
“I’m here to see what the president has to say,” DeLucia said. “But this is also a good opportunity to get together with some of the young Republicans. Part of politics is getting to meet new people and hear what they have to say.”
One of the highlights of the viewing party was a game of “Obama Bingo.” Everyone was given a bingo card with various catch phrases and events listed in the squares, such as “Economy,” “Green Jobs,” “Fair Share,” and “Camera Shot of Michelle Obama.” If the president uttered the phrase or the camera close up took place, players would mark it on their cards just like regular bingo. What did the winner get?
“The admiration of their peers,” Vander Linden said.
Vander Linden said the bingo-like games have been played during State of Union speeches for years around Washington D.C. He said that while the game is fun, it also had another benefit.
“Last year, people were really paying attention to the speech,” he said. “You had to if you were playing the game.”
The event drew a handful of political hopefuls as well, including Larchmont’s Mark Rosen, who is running for New York’s 18th Congressional District seat, and Scarsdale’s Bob Cohen, who is running for the New York State Senate.
But most of those on hand said they were merely political enthusiasts looking for a fun night out.
“I’m a political nerd,” said Katie Scott, whose father is Don Scott, chairperson of the Bedford Republican Committee. “My dad’s the reason I’m so political. I always try to watch the State of the Union.”