(Lori Piotrowski) – The Plaza in downtownLas Vegaswas teeming with an assortment of characters this past weekend. Check-in and corridors overflowed with the latest version of the hippie, the Electric Daisy Carnival-goer. Young girls in feathery tutus, mukluks and bikini bras mingled with several hundred older, more staid dressers, the latter attending a different carnival—the 2012 Conservative Leadership Conference (CLC).
Expanded to three days, this year’s CLC began on Friday with lunch and opening welcome by George Washington. He was followed by Roger Hedgecock, national radio talk show host and former mayor ofSan Diego,California. Following Hedgecock were Chris Barron (GOProud), and the Honorable Jim Gilmore (former governor ofVirginiaand now with the Free Congress Foundation).
The final speaker for Friday was Bryan Anderson, author of No Turning Back. Anderson is an Iraqi war veteran, triple amputee, and national spokesman for Quantum Rehab, a division of Pride Mobility Corp. and USA Cares, a non-profit organization focused on assisting post 911 veterans in times of need.
Saturday morning, attendees welcomedAmerica’s Sheriff, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, fromMaricopa County,Arizona. They also had the opportunity to purchase “pink shorts,” worn by Maricopa jail inmates and autographed by the sheriff. Several attendees were seen wearing the shorts proudly.
Jenny Beth Martin (Tea Party Patriots), Paul Jacob (Citizens in Charge), Ron Scheberle (ALEC), and Wayne Allyn Root (Libertarian Party) filled out the morning speaking slots. MC Alan Stock was seen, sporting a Ted Nugent-signed rifle, drawing closer and closer to Root to prompt him to wrap up his speech on time.
During lunch,Chuck Muth, president of Citizen Outreach, the sponsor of CLC, presented several awards to prominent individuals within the conservative movement. The first, the Reagan Legacy Award, went to Richard Viguerie to honor his dedication to conservatism. Vicki Dooling, of the Las Vegas Valley Tea Party, was recognized as the Nevada Rising Star. Mark Ciavola, former president of the UNLV College Republicans and now president of the UNLV Student Body, was honored with the Nevada Conservative of the Year Award. Also honored was Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker for “Courage Under Fire.” His communications director, Ciara Matthews, collected the award on the governor’s behalf.
A new award, the Breitbart Award, named for dedicated journalist Andrew Breitbart who passed away earlier this year and who was last year’s CLC keynote speaker, was presented to Katie Pavlich. Ms. Pavlich is news editor at Townhall.com and she began to research Operation Fast and Furious when the gun-running scheme first came to light. Her research resulted the book in Fast and Furious: Barack Obama’s Bloodiest Scand and the Shameless Cover-up.
Following lunch, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) addressed the general session. In quick succession were Gregg Keller (American Conservative Union), Donna Wiesner Keene (Independent Women’s Forum), Grover Norquist (Americans for Tax Reform), David Keene (National Rifle Association), and Joe Malarkey, the “worst motivational speaker inAmerica.”
Following David Keene’s remarks, Stock and Muth approached the stage followed by Dan Burdish, holding the drawing stubs, and Russ Wheeler, the autographed rifle.Keenedrew the winning ticket, and the rifle was to find a new home with Tom Blanchard.
Sunday, the final day of the conference, was also filled with speakers. First up was Thomas Jefferson, who set right some of the myths about his presidency and his writings. He was followed by Jack Abramoff and JohnLott. Rick Arnold (National Voter Outreach) spoke briefly and gave way to Marita Noon (Responsible Energy). Locals Niger Innis (Congress of Racial Equality) and Rebecca Smith (Taltos Consulting) were followed by Northern Nevadan Janie Johnson (author of Obama 2012 Slogans Rewritten). The final speaker of the day was Angela Alegna, founder of America Helping Heroes.
Many of the speakers had the opportunity to appear on Friday’s Roger Hedgecock Show, as the host quickly set up an on-site radio booth after his speech. Keep watching YouTube.com/ANTReporting as many videos will be appearing as they are edited and posted. Once you see those, you’ll be sure to be first in line for tickets to the 2013 Conservative Leadership Conference!