Sunday, August 23, 2015

Great time at Americans for Prosperity Defending the American Dream Summitt

Wow! I had a great time at the Americans for Prosperity Defending the American Dream summit

At the Tennessee delegates reception. From left to right: Derick Adams,
 Peter Vorsey, Rod Williams (me), Greg Halvorson,  Gene Wisdom, Dan Sifuentes,
and  Kasondra Watkins
in Cleveland Ohio this weekend. I was educated, motivated, entertained, and thrilled. And the cost of travel, the convention, hotel rooms and most meals came to only $29! Thank God for the Koch boys!

I left home Thursday 11:30 in the morning and went to Legislative Plaza where I caught the bus, joining other people who had gotten on the bus in Brentwood. A second bus left Brentwood and stopped in Hendersonville. We then went to Cleveland where we registered at the convention center and then got to our hotel about 9PM. From 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM all day Friday and Saturday we attended the conference then left Cleveland about 6PM and got back home about 12:30AM Sunday morning.

Next to Ohio, Tennessee had the largest delegation at the convention, with almost 400 people from Tennessee attending. We all wore matching tee shirts; neon light green the first day and bright red the second day and we were highly visible.

The mornings were taken up by breakout session that covered a range of topics from school choice, to right to work and prevailing wage,  health care reform, how regulatory overreach is taking our freedom, energy policy,  how to talk to millennials about freedom, how to be an effective advocate for your position and lots more. The panelist at the breakout session were all experts in their field and accomplished.

Break out session “Don’t Let Them Tell Your Story- Countering
 the Left Narratives.  From left to right: Lawrence Jones, writer
The Blaze; Donald Bryson, North Carolina State Director AFP;
 Sonnie Johnson, Political Activist and Commentator,
After the breakout sessions we had a box lunch and then reconvened in the big hall. The events in the big hall were well organized and ran like a well oiled machine. There were wrist bands handed out that flashed lights at appropriate times and gave the room a glow of thousands of little lights, there were big screens and music to get you pumped up and music as people entered and left the stage and pyrotechnics. It was a great show! Much like a sporting event or a concert, there is something about being in a crowd of thousands who are there for the same reason and who enjoy the same thing that is exciting.

We heard from five of the presidential candidates: Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindal, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Rick Perry. Among this crowd, the least favorite by far was Jeb Bush and the most favored was Ted Cruz.  The audience was polite to Bush. He was not heckled or booed and people did not walk out but the applause was not as loud and his remarks got fewer standing ovations than that for any of the other candidates.
Rick Perry

For Ted Cruz, the applause and cheering was deafening, and the standing ovations made the audience look like pop corn: up and down, up and down. For some periods of his speech, the audience stayed standing. Cruz threw out the red meat and the crowd ate it up.  Ted Cruz was not my favorite, however. For one thing, I think Cruz is a little too bombastic. I want someone who will bring me to my feet and get me to cheer, but who will also reason and persuade me.  I feel he has too much the touch of a televangelist. Also, I had just seen Cruz speak in Franklin a couple weeks before and he gave the exact same speech. It was a rerun for me. I was more impressed the first time I heard the speech.

Ted Cruz
After hearing Bobby Jindal speak, he rose back to the top of my preferred candidates list. He has a compelling personal story and has a record of having been a good governor of Louisiana having cut the size of government and grown the economy and advanced school choice and improved education.  I like his delivery style. He threw out enough red meat zingers to keep the crowd roused, but also talked policy prescriptions. He took a humorous jab at Cruz or Paul or both when he said, "if you are looking for the candidate with biggest bladder, I am not your guy."  If you recall, both Paul and Cruz have each conducted filibusters, however they were not real filibusters that had a chance of changing the outcome of a bill and served no real purpose except to call attention to an
issue and gain the respective senators some attention.

Several people I spoke to claim Jindal's claim of accomplishments as governor are inflated resulting from a  ending of Federal flow-through Katrina relive funding and other factors that only make it appear he cut government. I'll be paying close attention to see how true that is. Marco Rubio also gave a great performance.  I have seen him speak a couple times before but not in a while and his speech did not seem like a rerun. At this point in time, my top tier candidates are Jindal, Rubio and Walker.

I had never seen Rich Perry speak before and somehow, I had low expectations but ended up being really impressed. He did not keep people on their feet cheering, but talked about the serious issues facing out country and he modulated his tone from rousing crescendos to low confiding conversational tones, and at one time had the 3,600 absolutely silent.

Part of the 400 Tennessee attendees
An obvious snub was that candidate John Kasich was not present to address the gathering.  He is governor of Ohio and the event was in the capital of Ohio, Cleveland. Kasich is considered a moderate in the Party due to his expansion of Obamacare Medicaid and he failed to enact right-to-work when he had the chance. His absence was noted. Of course, all of the candidates could not have been there but the talk among delegates was that Donald Trump was not invited. Trump's phenomenal rankings in the polls was the topic of several conversations, but I met almost no one who was for him or who believe he will be the nominee. Among people I talked to at this event, the consensus seems to be that Trump is not to be trusted and his support has to do with his refusal to kowtow to the press and his celebrity status.

In addition to to presidential candidates there were speeches by APR officials and war heroes and
others. There were also protesters outside the hall and a bomb scare. In addition to the events in the big hall and breakout session, one of the most enjoyable parts of the trip was spending time with people I know and making new friends. On Friday night after we all checked in to the hotel, about ten people, including a couple state legislators, and some local activist went to a nearby bar and talked for a couple hours and on Saturday night, I had dinner with some people I know, but got to know better, and some new friends. It was a great event. Sometimes you need a revival to keep motivated to fight the fight.

For press coverage of the event: Ted Cruz gets enthusiastic greeting at Americans for Prosperity event

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