The Don is coming to SRQ.
Real estate mogul/political commentator/reality TV show host Donald Trump will receive the Republian Party of Sarasota County's Statesman of the Year award on Aug. 26, according to the Sarasota GOP website.
The award is given each year by the local club and also serves as a fundraiser.
"As a conservative and a champion of free enterprise, Donald Trump is a keynote leader in this country who commands attention and serious consideration from people of all partisan persuasions," Sarasota GOP Chairman Joe Gruters wrote in a statement. "He does not shy away from controversy and is courageous in promoting the fundamental principles that conservatives endorse and strive to achieve."
Gruters also told Talking Points Memo blog why Trump is deserving of the award:
“He’s a sage, skillful and respected leader” who is doing “all he can to take our country back,” Sarasota GOP Chair Joe Gruters told TPM. “At the end of the day, he’s one of the few people in the country who can command respect from people of all walks of life.”
The event will be held at 6 p.m. Aug. 26 at the . Tickets range from $150 to $1,000. The $1,000 ticket includes a private meet and greet with Trump, a photo with him, VIP reception and dinner.
The 2011 recipient was Mississippi Gov. Hayley Barbour, and also had former presidential candidate Herman Cain appear,
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Trump released a statement about the award, MSNBC.com reports:
Trump spokesman Michael Cohen says Trump is "honored to be the recipient of this prestigious award."
It's unclear how much of a fan Trump is of Romney, but Cohen also told MSNBC that he expects Trump to attend the Republican National Convention in Tampa the following week:
"It would seem obvious that Donald Trump will play a role in the Tampa convention, as his massive popularity, reflected in this recent award, shows what an asset he would be in making the convention into an even greater success."
Trump's participation in the birther movment has even sparked criticism within the Republican party, but it's a non-factor for Gruters, he told Talking Points Memo:
No matter. Gruters said he is “proud” to give Trump the award. No one issue led to Trump getting the prize, he said, adding that the birther matter is “irrelevant.”
Will you buy tickets to see or meet Donald Trump in Sarasota? Tell us in the comments.
Updated 1 p.m. with quote from Joe Gruters.