Multnomah County Republican Party officials said Monday that they hope to find a new place to host their Lincoln Day Dinner and were unhappy that a separate raffle for a semi-automatic rifle and a message of personal freedom and liberty were “misunderstood.”

Local party officials sent a press release Monday morning, Jan. 20, saying their Feb. 15 Lincoln Day Dinner would go ahead as planned after the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church backed out as the venue because of a controversy surrounding the rifle raffle. The party is in talks with another venue to host the dinner, which will feature Rafael Cruz, father of Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.

The party originally only planned to sell 500 tickets for the raffle, but may sell more because of the drawing’s popularity. The winner has the option of an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle or a handgun.

Plans announced last week included honoring both Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the dinner. Critics of the local GOP organization were unhappy that the AR-15 was being raffled around the time of the event because both Lincoln and King were shot to death. The raffle is the party's third of an AR-15 since June.

In Monday’s statement, party officials said last week’s press release about the raffle for the rifle “was unfortunately easily misunderstood.”

GOP officials said they were promoting “individual liberty, lower taxes, smaller government and individual responsibility,” and apologized “if people were hurt by the message being marred by insufficient wording and/or cynical misinterpretations by those who disagree with us politically.”

“Both Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King delivered speeches in defense of American liberty and freedom that will live forever in the hearts and minds of the American people,” according to the party’s statement. “They gave their lives for his cause.”

Last week, Multnomah County GOP Chairman Jeff Reynolds said the party’s raffle raffirmed “our strong defense of the Second Amendment and the right to personal protection. The Bill of Rights is inviolable, despite what the gun-grabbers in Salem might try.”

Reynolds said that Democrats in the Legislature “will attempt to take away our personal right to bear arms. The Multnomah County Republican Party remains steadfast in its dedication to defeating such efforts.”

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