Friday, October 21, 2005 1:00 a.m.

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Coulter courts Gainesville


Alligator Writer

Megan Schaub / Alligator
Conservative author and speaker Ann Coulter autographs a book after speaking at the Ronald Reagan Black Tie and Blue Jeans BBQ on Thursday evening.

Ann Coulter, an outspoken Republican pundit and author, energized and entertained more than 800 UF students and Alachua County residents Thursday night at the third annual Ronald Reagan Black Tie and Blue Jeans BBQ.

The audience, decked out in patriotic garb and cowboy boots, fanatically surrounded Coulter before dinner, asking her to pose with them for pictures.

One woman caught Coulter's attention by begging for a picture, saying, "my husband loves you."

The Republicans got in the spirit of the night while enjoying an SUV-size trailer full of Budweiser beer.

Attendees paid between $25 and $75 to attend the event; the latter price included dinner. The money went to the Alachua County Republican Party, which paid $30,000 to have Coulter speak.

Coulter mainly addressed weaknesses she saw in the Democratic party.

"The Democrats complain about the Republican base being nuts," Coulter said. "The nuts are their entire party."

She warned attendees to not allow Democrats anywhere near foreign policy, "not even to keep them away from domestic policy."

Coulter defended the war in Iraq and chastised Democrats for "demoralizing America."

"The war was a magnificent success," she said. "We're a few years into the rebuilding."

She also criticized the media for being liberal and Democrats for whining about their rights under the First Amendment.

"They're always accusing us of repressing their speech," she said. "I say let's do it. Let's repress them."

She later added, "Frankly, I'm not a big fan of the First Amendment."

Her statements received applause, and many attendees said they enjoyed her speech, but some added that they think she's somewhat extreme.

"She's not very subtle, but I always enjoy her talks," Republican Senate candidate Travis Horn said. "They're very hard hitting, but the truth hurts."

The vice chair of the Alachua County Republican Executive Committee Bryan Harman said the unexpectedly large turnout was wonderful, and he enjoyed Coulter's fiery speech.

"I thought it was very funny," Harman said. "She used a lot of humor and good political satire to make people laugh. She would take serious issues and make fun of them a little, but she still got her point across."

UF students received a $30 discount, and UF College Republicans President Ashlee Black said the club sold about 100 tickets.

"We had a good turn out of UF students and College Republicans," Harman said. "They were very instrumental in pulling this all together."

Black enjoyed Coulter's speech, and said she felt special when Coulter called UF Republicans "beautiful" at the beginning of her speech.

"I think that she's incredibly intelligent and outspoken," Black said. "She's a little raw, but I think she balances the left's Michael Moore."