Sunday, October 7, 2007

RightOberfest this weekend - 2007 Conservative Leadership Conference in Reno


October 7, 2007

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Rightoberfest

OK, the first thing you need to know about Rightoberfest - the 2007 Conservative Leadership Conference - is that it will be held this Thursday-Saturday in Reno/Sparks, Nevada. The event is being co-hosted by my organization, Citizen Outreach, and Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform. The conference's honorary chairman is Rep. John Shadegg of Arizona.

The daytime program will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Thursday will feature training seminars and workshops designed to help conservatives be more effective citizens, both on the Internet and via traditional grassroots activities.

Friday and Saturday will be chock full of wall-to-wall speakers and panels. Over 60 conservative leaders and elected officials have confirmed their participation, and that doesn't include the Exhibit Hall. The full list of speakers, exhibitors and the most current daily agenda can be found at

As this is a first-time event, many folks are wondering why we're doing it and what makes it different from other conservative conferences. Well, three things.

First, most of these kinds of conferences are held in Washington, DC, where most of the nation's leading public policy activists and elected officials live, work and sleep. For folks living west of the Rockies that means a long, expensive trip across two or three time zones to attend. So Grover and I talked last year about holding a western event which would make it possible and less expensive for conservatives out here to get together, network and hear from some of the top conservative leaders in the country.

Coincidentally, at the same time a very talented young conservative blogger named Eric Odom was planning to hold a conservative bloggers conference in Reno as an alternative to the far-Left DailyKos bloggers convention. But Eric didn't have connections to top conservative speakers and had never put on a conference before. So it was a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup moment: You got peanut-butter in my chocolate; you got chocolate in my peanut-butter.

And Rightoberfest was born.

Thirdly, Rightoberfest will have a decidedly libertarian-leaning focus. In recent years, the libertarian-leaning wing of the conservative movement has grown significantly (witness the Ron Paul phenomenon), especially in the West. So our program and many of the speakers we've lined up for Rightoberfest reflect what some call "Goldwater conservatism," named after the late Arizona senator.

Which is not to say we've written out social conservatives or that social conservatives aren't welcome to attend. They most certainly are. Indeed, we have plenty of leaders from the social conservative wing speaking at Rightoberfest. It's just that issues such as abortion and gay marriage aren't being highlighted. Instead, we'll be focusing on taxes, spending, immigration, gun rights, free speech, education reform, labor unions, lawsuit abuse and limited government in general.

Another Rightoberfest difference will be our efforts to get away from the traditional suit-and-tie/blue-hair-and-pearls image conservatives have. The fact is, there's a newer, younger, growing generation of conservatives - some have called them "South Park" conservatives, named after the highly irreverent, politically incorrect animated TV show - who don't exactly relate to the Pat Boone crowd. Nothing against Pat, but we wanted this conference to appeal to this newer generation of conservatives.

With that in mind, we ditched the traditional button-down cocktail welcoming reception on Thursday night in favor of a Margarita Beach Party! And as every Jimmy Buffet fan knows, even though our reception starts at 6 pm, it's five o'clock somewhere.

That being said, I need to put to rest a rather nasty rumor going around about Thursday night's entertainment. It is absolutely, positively NOT true that we will be "tasering" an anti-war student protestor from the University of Nevada Reno while the drum-solo from "Wipe Out" is playing in the background. That would be totally inappropriate.

No, the song we've chosen is the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations."

And what western event would be complete without a Western BBQ - which is exactly what we've scheduled for Friday night, where keynote speaker Alan "Six Shooter" Keyes is scheduled to shake the rafters and rattle some bones as only he can.

In addition, we'll be conducting a rather politically incorrect "Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms" raffle during the BBQ, with the proceeds going to a pair of funds dedicated to helping conservative college students. The alcohol will be a case of fine wine, the tobacco has something to do with cigars, and the firearm (I'm hoping) will be one of those new made-in-America Ruger M77 Hawkeye rifles.

And if that's not politically incorrect enough, wait'll you see who we have selling the tickets. Hubba-hubba!

On the other hand, we HAVE bowed to some tradition and we will be holding a more traditional awards banquet on Saturday night. In addition to bestowing our first-ever Blogger of the Year award, we'll also be presenting our first-ever Barry Goldwater and Lyn Nofziger awards - named respectively after the late libertarian-conservative senator and the late libertarian-conservative political strategist.

Plus we'll be honoring the memory of the late Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman, all topped off by our first-ever "State of the Conservative Union Address" being delivered by South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, followed by the announcement of our conference presidential straw poll winners.

I could go on and on telling you about how great these kinds of conferences are for getting like-minded and right-minded folks together to discuss the important issues of the day and share political war stories, but some things in life just have to be experienced in person. Watching the World Series or Super Bowl on TV just isn't quite the same as sitting there in the stands. So if you still haven't registered to attend the inaugural 2007 Rightoberfest extravaganza, do it now or you'll be kicking yourself later.

One final note - and I hesitate to even bring this up. However, hotel security has requested that all networking at Rightoberfest be confined to the ballroom floor and the hallways. Gentlemen, when nature calls PLEASE narrow your stances and leave any toilet paper you might find on the restroom floor on the restroom floor. Other than that, have a great time. I'll see many of you in four days!

To register, go to

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