Republican candidates for statewide offices stressed a theme of getting out the vote Saturday night at the 16th Annual Old Fashioned Family Picnic in Cape Girardeau.
Held at The Plaza by Ray's, the picnic drew nearly 250 people and was hosted by Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson.
Lloyd Smith, executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, welcomed those present and set the tone for the evening.
"It's a wonderful time to be Republicans, and it's a wonderful time to be conservatives," Smith said. "But we need folks to help us make phone calls and knock on doors until Election Day. I'm excited about our chances in November, but a lot of work needs to be done between now and then. We need your help to get Republicans elected across-the-board in Missouri this year."
Congresswoman Emerson seconded Smith's remarks, and then added her own take on the election.
"It seems like this has been said in every election year, but this election is the most important one in our lifetime," Emerson said. "We have 20 days to go. If we believe enough, we'll win in November. We have got to go out and make sure that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are going to be in the White House."
Emerson also singled out volunteer Judy DeClue, who so far has made more than 4,800 phone calls on behalf of GOP candidates.
All Republican candidates for statewide office addressed the gathering Saturday night, except attorney general candidate Ed Martin who was not present because of a family emergency. State Auditor Tom Schweich told the audience that President Obama has done little more than preside over the slow, managed decline.
"We reject that," Schweich said. "We need Romney and Ryan in Washington to restore economic pride in America, and the only way we're going to do that is to get people to the polls."
Cole McNary of Chesterfield, candidate for State Treasurer said that a rising tide will lift all Republican boats in Missouri.
"There's an enthusiasm here tonight and there's an enthusiasm across the state for Mitt Romney," McNary said. "I've campaigned all over the state and believe me, it's there. President Obama didn't carry Missouri in 2008, and he's not going to do it this year. Getting out the vote will ensure that Mitt Romney is elected and it will help other Republican candidates further down the ticket."
After McNary spoke, Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder told the audience that something big is happening with the Romney-Ryan ticket across Missouri.
"It's going to help Republican candidates running statewide," Kinder said. "The movement to Romney-Ryan is going to help us all."
Kinder, like Emerson, said that it will be an important election in November.
"It's all on the line in this election. We must make our choice not only as Missourians but also as Americans. To do that we'll need everybody's support, whether they be loyal party members, disaffected Democrats, or independents."
Dave Spence, a St. Louis businessman Republican candidate for governor, said he had just come from Columbia in the pouring rain but would not have missed the picnic because Jo Ann Emerson is a good friend of his.
"The area Jo Ann represents is important to us," Spence said. "It's a good, conservative area that we must do well in to win. I'm glad to be here in Cape Girardeau, because you can't sit at home and get to know people.
Spence made headlines Friday when he filed a lawsuit against incumbent Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.
"We need good people to run for office," Spence explained. "It's because of what Governor Nixon is doing that leads fewer and fewer people into the political fray. I'm suing him not just for me, but for everybody who's ever run for elected office and has had to deal with those sort of falsehoods. You just can't lie like that."
Spence was referring to his lawsuit that claims Nixon maliciously or recklessly broadcast false statements about him by saying that Spence was a banker who used federal bailout money to buy a vacation home.
The color guard from VFW Post #3838 in Cape Girardeau presented the colors to start the event and the national anthem was sung by Lisa Reitzel, Republican candidate for Cape Girardeau County Public Administrator. Maggie Thorn of Bloomfield and Anna Catherine Dehart of Sikeston provided the musical entertainment.
Pertinent address: 3257 William St., Cape Girardeau, MO.