Indiana state treasurer Richard Mourdock spoke about the opposition Abraham Lincoln's presidency faced at the College Republican's inaugural Lincoln Day dinner Tuesday night.
Mourdock described Abraham Lincoln as a president who succeeded in the face of challenges.
Lincoln was a long shot candidate, Mourdock said. "
He was criticized for announcing that he would not uphold the anti-slavery Republican platform, saying 'If I could save the Union without freeing any slaves, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it,' he said.
He said the challenges Lincoln faced as president during the Civil War are comparable to those faced by George W. Bush and the war in Iraq.
"Every life we have lost in Iraq, all 4,000, is precious," he said. "Imagine if tonight, 3 percent of those who went on patrol did not return. During the Civil War, it was 3 percent of the entire American population. On an equivalent basis, we'd have to lose 9 million servicemen in Iraq to match that."
Mourdock said that the Civil War shook the nation's resolve and the bloodiest riots in the nation's history happened the week after the Union suffered 55,000 losses at Gettysburg.
"New York said 'give it up, it isn't worth it,'" he said. "'Give it up.' Lincoln faced that every day."
Even through all of this the Lincoln and the Republican party persisted in their goals, Mourdock said.
"Even in tough times, this party says freedom matters," he said. "'Give it up, it isn't worth it' isn't acceptable. [Rejecting] this is what American exceptionalism is all about. We are the nation that believes it is [worth it]."
Indiana state representative Jackie Walorski also spoke at the dinner, drawing connections between Republican values and freedom in economic affairs.
She said individual responsibility has led her to criticize liberal health care programs.
"I'm passionate that I was raised by a mom and dad, and worked my way through college," she said. "I never had the thought that anyone owed me anything. It's a sink or swim world and I want to help people learn how to swim."
Chris Riley, chairman of the St. Joseph County Republican party said dinners like these are important to the future of the party.
"These dinners serve as important gatherings for every county to talk about Republican values," he said. "It's a tremendously important day for the Republican party."
Ed Yap, president of the College Republicans agreed saying this type of this is important for the future of the party.
"To do anything substantive, we have to create a coalition," he said. "We're inviting new members, including Democrats and members of all stripes. It's been really inspiring to see so many people come together, including the College Republicans [and] Right to Life."