By MATT MASTERS
Former South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint and Pennsylvania Congressman Scott Perry visited a Brentwood home on Friday morning for a political coffee meetup with local influential conservative supporters and voters including several women’s groups from across Middle Tennessee.
Homeowner Sandi Wells has been leading the political coffee group for about five years, where she gathers political movers and shakers together around coffee, coffee cake, fruit and the issues of the day, issues that will only become louder and more pressing as the days count down to the 2020 presidential election.
“The purpose of the coffees is to educate people because we feel that if we can educate people and we’re better educated then we can vote better,” Wells said. “It’s one thing when you hear them on the news, it’s another thing when you see them face to face. They really do inspire you and they kind of give you hope for Washington.”
Debbie Meadows and Polly Jordan, wives of North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows and Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan respectively, joined DeMint and Perry to tell supporters about the work done by President Trump and his administration to promote conservative values, and the challenges of serving as the spouse of a representative in the current political climate.
Debbie Meadows serves on President Trump’s Women for Trump advisory board, which according to their website, is a group meant to “empower women to re-elect President Donald J. Trump by sharing their experiences and successes during the Trump administration.”
Congressman Meadows is the current Chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, which was formed in 2015, in part by Congressman Jordan.
The Caucus formed as a split from the Republican Study Committee and as reported by Cleveland.com, Jordan called the new caucus a “smaller, more cohesive, more agile and more active” group than the Republican Study Committee.
According to the House Freedom Caucus official Facebook page, the caucus supports “open, accountable and limited government, the Constitution and the rule of law, and policies that promote the liberty, safety and prosperity of all Americans.”
DeMint served as the president of The Heritage Foundation from 2013-2017, a conservative public policy think tank based in Washington D.C., before forming the Conservative Partnership Institute in 2017. He was also a leading figure in the Tea Party movement that became a powerful political force after the election of President Obama in 2008.
As reported by Politico, DeMint said in a 2017 news release that CPI would offer professional development for conservatives in Washington D.C.
“There’s a missing piece that has proved costly: shepherding conservatives through the Washington swamps without being infected with Potomac Fever,” DeMint said in the news release. “The Conservative Partnership Institute will fill this void by providing the resources, expertise and training needed for leaders and staff in Washington to succeed.”
Congressman Scott Perry served as a brigadier general in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and is also a member of the House Freedom Caucus.
Perry said that his district is under attack by “ultra-liberal Supreme Court redistricting,” a reference to a 2018 Supreme Court decision, one that Perry acknowledged will make the next election harder to win.
Perry said that members of the Freedom Caucus represent ideals that many politicians in Washington D.C., including some conservatives, don’t believe, such as following through with campaign promises and representing the views of their constituents.
“We’re not unyielding, we’re not uncompromising, part of the deal about being in the Freedom Caucus is that you have to be able to get to yes,” Perry said. “You can’t just be ‘no’ on everything, but that you don’t have to compromise your values or commitment to the citizens of your district or the country.”
DeMint told the crowd of about 60 people that CPI was set up to help people like Perry who may not feel as supported by the Republican Party as a whole.
“The Republican leadership in Washington is not always with us, but I find that as we go around the country to groups like this, we hear people who are saying that they appreciate Trump’s policies and they appreciate groups like the Freedom Caucus,” DeMint said.
DeMint and all speakers doubled down on President Trump’s message, character and convictions, praising his efforts and policies in the face of what they see as relentless attacks from nearly every side, from the Democratic Party, to political leftists, to “the media” and the old guard of the Republican Party.
“The Left has spent decades building central power in Washington, particularly in the Executive Branch, and the reason that they’re so mad is that someone who is an outsider came along and hijacked that whole thing and is trying to give power back to Americans,” DeMint said.
DeMint said that more intimate meetings like the coffee gathering tucked away in a Brentwood neighborhood were important ways to connect to their base of supporters.
“Nashville is great area of folks who really care about the country. So this developing of friends and relationships and networking and encouraging those who are getting together to support our principles like this Republican women’s group here is just a big part of why we’re here,” DeMint said.
“There’s a lot of enthusiasm for Trump and a lot of frustration with the Republican Party in Washington for not getting behind him and not trying to push through the policies that they promised they would push through,” DeMint said. “This is a good way to rally the troops, it’s a good way for people like Scott Perry and Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows to be encouraged and to see that people appreciate them. It makes a lot of difference.”
For Marie Mobley, a member of a conservative women’s group in Sumner County, this was an important event to be able to discuss the issues that her group is most concerned with such as immigration, the proposed boarder wall, sex trafficking and what she deemed “conservative Christian issues.”
“We’re interested in what’s happening to our country and trying to preserve what we know is important to the next generation even though they may not know that yet,” Mobley said.
DeMint also introduced CPI Senior Director of Policy and Programs and self-described millennial Rachel Bovard who co-wrote their new book “Conservative: Knowing What to Keep” which will be available on September 24.
“When you really dig into what conservatism is, it really just boils down to two things,” Bovard said. “One is gratefulness and the other is gratefulness for freedom.”