Civitas Institute - North Carolina
Conservative Leadership Conference
Day two of the conference starts with waiting on the patio for breakfast. Before the breakfast room opened, there was a large crowd clamoring for coffee! Outside the hotel we had our usual protest groups from the liberal camps. I am always amused at how democrats think that publicly protesting a peaceful event is a useful activity. You will rarely see protestors outside their events but it isn't because we don't disagree with them. Here and here are links to pictures of the ones who showed up this time!
While waiting for breakfast to start, Senator Fred Smith meets Angela McGlowan, (shown above) Fox News Analyst and author of "Bamboozled", who is moderating the morning event. Angela proclaimed that she was impressed with Senator Smith and pronounced him destined to be our next Governor when she introduced him.
Senator Fred Smith - Candidate for Governor, gave what was clearly the best speech of the day. It was completely in tune with what the people have come to expect of this principled man who is rapidly rising in the polls. Fred got the best ovation of the day as he ended his speech on a pledge to the people of North Carolina. (Check out my posting here to find out how his crowd enthusiasm translated into dominance in the poll Civitas conducted!) Fred's comments echoed the themes on his web site, called JOIN FRED - http://www.joinfred.com/. His lifetime track record of hard work and straight talk are respected by his friends and allies. He has always been a winner and that worries his opponents.
Thomas Stith and Angela McGlowan talked about final changes to the schedule including some speakers added at the last minute who were not on the program.
As noted, Angela McGlowan moderated the breakfast meeting and this daughter of a Methodist minister opened the session with a prayer.
Patrick Ballantine was second of the breakfast keynote speakers. There are many who want this young man to seek the Lt Governor post for North Carolina to continue burnishing his already impressive credentials.
Final keynote speaker for breakfast and top democrat in attendance at the conference, Heath Shuler, is a very religious man who says all the right things, but his great resume as a college football player brought honor to the State of Tennessee and almost all of his business interests are in Tennessee too. Somehow he persuaded a conservative district in North Carolina that his recent return to North Carolina to align himself with a political party controlled by socialists and appeasers would allow him to be an independent voice representing their district. However that victory had more to do with the tidal wave running against all Republicans last year than Shuler's credentials alone.
Heath Shuler was rated by ESPN the 17th greatest sports FLOP of the last 25 years. It is going to be interesting to see if the impossibility of honestly representing his conservative district while constrained by the liberal interests of the party he is a member of does not quickly make him a FLOP as a politician too.
As breakfast ended I spoke with a couple of young ladies from Onslow County about how they thought the Civitas conference was going. They were very positive. We discussed the future of their representative Walter Jones and the interest of many in the Republican Party in finding someone to take him on in the primary so that we can send him back to the democrat party where his heart seems to lie.
The morning sessions for the conference were too much about inside politics to maintain my interest, which are more concerned with issues that affect people such as education, immigration and the growing attacks on free enterprise even inside our party. I will be covering those forums in future columns about the specific issues of "The Conservative Message" and "The Future of Conservatism". I am skipping them here but I did want to share a couple of great lines that came out of these forums. "You can't please everyone, but you can certainly tick them all off." That was in support of the premise that our party abandoned and negated all of the progress from the 1994 "Contract with America" by its recent actions.
Another was a great joke about the pastor who was approached by a man who said "That was a damn fine sermon you gave preacher." The pastor said "Excuse me but you don't really need to curse sir." "Yes sir, preacher, I was so impressed I put $100 in the collection plate." The pastor responded, "The hell you say!" This in response to our willingness to abandon pricipals for money.
The next interesting session was the lunch session.
Pearl Floyd, County Commissioner from Gaston County opened the lunch session with a prayer.
Thomas Stith was moderator (again) and introduced the next speaker.
That speaker was Mark Sanford, former Governor from South Carolina. Mark is a soft spoken man who talks with great common sense about where conservatives need to go next. His comments on the difference between losing and being defeated were extremely important for Republicans to remember at this time.
Michael Steele, former Lt Governor of the State of Maryland is an imposing man with a charismatic manner. He presented his thoughts on where the conservative movement needs to go, and articulated a great vision of how to counter the insults hurled by democrats at any "minority" who dares to embrace the Republican Party.
I also liked his story about the difference between two friends who were a conservative and a liberal. They were walking down the street and passed a homeless man. The Conservative stopped, gave the man $20 and his business card and told him to call him about a job. Not to be outdone the liberal stopped when they passed another homeless man, took $50 from the conservative, gave it to the homeless man and then gave him directions to the closest welfare agency.
His thoughts were a great lead in to the next important forum which followed lunch, "Expanding the Conservative Base With Minority Voters".
The turnout for the "Minority Voter Forum" ultimately filled the room and overflowed into the hall.
The session was moderated by Mister Chairman, Joseph Avery, businessman from Smithfield in Johnston County and former Chairman of the Johnston County Republican Party. Joe has recently been elected Chairman of the Second North Carolina District for the Republican Party as he continues to move up in the Republican Party leadership ranks. Members of the Panel included Pearl Floyd, County Commissioner from Gaston County and long time Republican leader, Angela McGlowan, Fox News Analyst and author of "Bamboozled" and Dan Ramirez, County Commissioner from Mecklenburg County.
Each of the panel members was allowed to share some of their thoughts. Dan Ramirez was quite honest that many Republicans had existing opinions based on past experience that convinced them there was little chance of success in reaching out to minorities, so they were reticent to try.
Pearl Floyd spoke of the need for Republicans to get past that reticence too. She said that only aggressive action to reach out would lead to success, but she encouraged the party members to not be shy. She feels that the majority of those in the black and latino communities would welcome someone who did not quit at the first sign of resistance.
The most aggressive promoter for reaching out was Angela McGlowan, author of the book "Bamboozled". Her book is a blue print of how to explain our conservative programs and beliefs to the black and hispanic communities, and also explains why the largest part of those communities belong in the "conservative" party based on shared values.
Joseph Avery spoke last and took a few minutes to introduce some of the long term Republicans who were in the audience, including Vernon Robinson and the man in the picture below.
Richard Bishop is a Republican who is looked to as the mentor for many of the black Republicans of today. He spoke of his own views and why he has always been a Republican, and how he explains that in the black community.
Lamont Roberts is typical of a number of audience members who spoke up and insisted the Republican Party needs to overcome its failure to communicate our conservative message in the black community.
The next to last session of the day was about the 2008 Presidential Campaign. In many ways this was another of the "inside politics" sessions, but the members of the panel made it more interesting than most of these types of sessions.
Marc Rotterman, Republican media consultant had some interesting views on what the party is doing wrong in getting its message out, even when the message is consistent. However he did point out that a lot of our problem is that the message has become blurred and contradictory in some places, and we need to make sure we know what we believe.
Fred Barns also had some interesting thoughts, but in many ways he is currently quite negative on the Republican Party for the same reasons articulated by Rotterman. He does not buy the message, believes the public has lost confidence in us and does not think the message is consistent either.
As the evening dinner session got started, there was considerable delay because of all the people who wanted to meet our senior Senator, Elizabeth Dole. Here Natalie Waddington from Pasquotank County, and Harvey West from Washington County, spend a few minutes getting to know Senator Dole.
Thomas Stith was moderator for this final event and called the session to start.
The meal session was opened with a prayer by Nathan Tabor, author and blogger.
A local cub scout led everyone in the "pledge of allegiance".
Gubernatorial candidate Bill Graham was the opening speaker for the dinner session, and talked of his vision for our state, and the efforts he has put into reducing our gas taxes.
The Keynote speaker for the evening was Senator Elizabeth Dole. She delivered a good speech but it seemed more rehearsed than extemporaneous. It covered all the standard talking points for conservatives, however one interesting statistic was included. Low income families in America receive $22,000 plus in benefits each year, but that number is dramatically reduced if the family has workers. Government still punishes work.
At the end of the conference everyone just seemed to keep on talking, hesitant to let it end. Here Al Lytton and Pearl Floyd talk with one of the attendees about their thoughts and interests.
Civitas did a great job for the second year in a row. A special thank you to Jack Hawke and Thomas Stith for a job well done.