(Lori Piotrowski) – It wasn’t your typical Saturday. No waking up late, no cartoons, no car washing, or furniture dusting, or afternoon napping. Not for over two hundred attendees at the 2011 Conservative Leadership Conference. Instead, they awoke early, grabbed a quick coffee, and drove down to The M Resort Spa Casino for a day filled with speakers, conversation, and a presidential straw poll.
Senator Dean Heller, honorary chair of the conference and opening keynote speaker, acknowledged that the current president inherited a poor economy, but then challenged Obama to cut spending and take taxes and tax increases out of the debt reduction talks. Although he wouldn’t make a prediction for who would be the Republican contender for the highest office, he did emphasize that this person must be a strong leader.
In the afternoon, Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico, and Herman Cain, former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza and radio talk show host, both took to the stage for mini stump speeches. Johnson laid out his stance on a variety of policies while Cain walked listeners through his personal history and why he is best qualified to be the next president. Both were on hand to meet attendees after their talks and during the cocktail hour at the end of the day.
Perhaps the most anticipated speaker of the day was closing keynoter Andrew Breitbart. Breitbart took the stage in blue jeans, a green rumpled shirt and white sneakers, acknowledging that he needed to make a statement with his attire so as not to be confused as another candidate for political office.
Breitbart, who is known for antagonizing the liberal politicos, urged conservatives and Republicans in attendance to speak out, to not be afraid of finding their voice. “They are doing to you what they are accusing you of doing,” he repeated several times. Later, during the book signing, attendees were snapping up copies of Righteous Indignation, Breitbart’s latest book. On hand to sign copies, he would pen, “Fight the Man!”
During the awards luncheon, Chuck Muth, president of Citizen Outreach Foundation, presented six awards to conservatives who earned meritorious mention in the past year:
- John Lilburne Award: Linda Strickland
- Courage Under Fire Award: Assemblyman Ed Goedhart
- Rookie of the Year Award: State Senator Michael Roberson
- Rising Star Award: Victor Joecks
- Reagan Legacy Award: Bill Brady
- Conservative of the Year Award: State Senator Elizabeth Halseth
The presidential straw poll, sponsored by The Washington Times, gave attendees the opportunity to voice their opinion about who they would elect president and vice president, as well as several other topics. Of the 179 who cast a poll vote, Herman Cain won with 24%, Romney ran a close second with 21% of the vote. Attendees chose Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Governor Chris Christy (R-NJ) for their top two vice presidential picks at 19% and 14 respectively.
Pollers disagreed with Obama’s policy on pulling out of Afghanistan (90%); agreed thatYucca Mountain and its demise are not yet concluded (87%); and opposed same-sex marriage (75%). Reults of the two final questions were much closer: legalization of marijuana up to 1 oz. for personal use and medical usage (51% in favor, 49% opposed) and legalization of prostitution with a “red-light” district created inLas Vegas (40% in favor, 50% opposed).