Tea Party Convention Diaries: Palin to Campaign...For Others

Nashville — Sarah Palin confirmed Saturday that she would be hitting the campaign trail this year, but it would be to campaign for others. 

In the question and answer session that followed Palin’s address to the tea party convention Saturday evening (convention organizer Judson Phillips asked pre-submitted questions), she said she would be endorsing specific candidates in 2010 and would hit the campaign trail for some of them.

It was one minute into her speech before her voice even became audible on the HUMAN EVENTS recorder — the audience cheering drowned out anything she tried to say beforehand.

But when she was heard, she made it worth the wait for audience members who’d come from as far as Seattle, Wash. to hear her.

“A special hello to the C-SPAN viewers,” Palin said. “You may not be welcome in those health care negotiations, but you have an invitation to the tea party.”

After that, it was everything from giving a shoutout to Scott Brown to discussing the state of  America’s national security.

“Foreign policy can’t be managed through the politics of personality,” Palin said.  “Our president would do well to take note of an observation John F. Kennedy had made once he was in office: that all the world’s problems aren’t his predecessor’s fault.”

She also pointed out the tea party movement is forcing both the Democrat and Republican parties to change the way they do business.

Below is the view of the speaker’s podium from the left wall of the banquet hall (my view) and also a snapshot of the media section inside the hall.

Tea Party Convention Diaries, Feb. 6, 2010: Looking for Generation Y

One attendee was concerned enough about the absence of tweens, teens, and twenties (maybe even thirties) at the National Tea Party convention this weekend that he brought it up during speaker Steve Milloy’s question and answer session Friday.

Ironically, there was a breakout panel later that day called “How to Involve the Youth in the Conservative Movement” with Jordan Marks, executive director of Young Americans for Freedom.

Marks told HUMAN EVENTS he believes the tea party movement has caught on among young people, and their absence at the convention is an anomaly to what he’s seen.

“You saw a room filled with a lot of older people,” Marks said. “For every person that I saw in this room, I could tell you 100 other people who are leading the tea party movement, that are Twittering, Facebook — when they’re not doing snowball fights in D.C.…they’re online organizing tea party movements.”

In fact, he said it’s his firm belief the young people are actually leading the Tea Party movement.

“I really believe that had there not been young people involved, [the movement] wouldn’t have been as mobilized as well as it was,” Marks said.

Marks told the audience during the presentation — which was packed — that they should be aware how to frame the issues in a way that appeals to people who rock out to Taylor Swift and not Frank Sinatra. He suggested parents explain to their children what the government invasion is costing them in terms they can understand — for example, a trip to Disneyland. 

“We’re letting President Obama right now set the agenda and frame the issues for the young people,” Marks pointed out.

He also said, however, that people need to expand their view of who the youth are.

“Don’t just view a young person as somebody that is in college or in high school,” Marks said.  “Expand your view to young professionals, and notice that person that’s sitting in the office next to you.”

I actually did find 13-year-old David Tennent walking around Saturday at the convention.  His mother works in radio in Pittsburgh and was attending the convention, so he came along, too. He also reminded me there were a few kids at the press conference yesterday asking questions.

He made a valid point about why some of his peers may not be attending — over half the convention took place over school days (in his case, he said his mom usually tries to take him to these kind of events so he can see what’s going on).

David says the school he attends has several conservatives, and while he has a couple friends who he can talk about politics with, he also doesn’t receive grief from the other side of the aisle. Mostly, however, the kids just don’t pay attention.

“They don’t really care, right now,” he said.  “Probably later, they will more.”

One of the suggestions he had for making the convention more youth-friendly was lowering the price of the event so that more people can bring their kids.

David says he has learned things from the convention and that it was “kind of cool” to watch the press conference live — it was held yesterday afternoon with convention organizers Mark Skoda and Judson Phillips (see footage below)– and then go home and see how people reported on it.

Tea Party Convention Diaries, Feb. 5, 2010: It May Break Even

Mark Skoda announced at the National Tea Party Convention today the formation of a new 501(c)4, the Ensuring Liberty Corporation, and a soon to be established Ensuring Liberty PAC.  According to the press release, the corporation will fundraise, be involved in candidate recruitment, and try to establish a congressional caucus of representatives who share similar values of fiscal responsibility and limited government.

None of the money raised from the National Tea Party Convention — whose $549 tickets to attend the event and banquet featuring Sarah Palin caused so much noise among the media — is being used to fund the forthcoming PAC, nor are the two affiliated. 

In fact, convention organizer Judson Phillips joked with reporters that he’s currently estimating the convention will report a profit in the ‘high two figures.”  He does say he thinks the convention will break even.

Few convention attendees bat an eyelash when you bring up the ticket prices.

“They’re providing a lot of meals, they’re providing entertainment, they’re providing good speakers, they certainly have overhead costs,” said one convention attendee who traveled from North Carolina.

Another attendee, Beverly Andis from Green Castle, Ind., said she was comfortable with paying to come.

“I don’t envy the wealthy, I’m not wealthy,” Andis said. “I’m an average person, but no, it didn’t bother me at all.”

One couple who came from Seattle — they will celebrate their 59th wedding anniversary later this year — said that while the tickets may be high priced, the experience would be worth it. So they took a discount on the room and caught a 4 a.m. flight.

Skoda didn’t shy away from addressing the controversy surrounding the ticket prices in his speech at the convention Friday morning, asking if America has come so far into the socialist agenda that Americans would criticize a for-profit event.

“We didn’t ask for a bailout, a subsidy,” Skoda said. 

Skoda also alluded to those who worry about the tea party losing its grassroots foundation. He reminded people that they couldn’t vote for his mayor, his senator, his congressman – they would have to go home and vote for theirs.  He told them that this movement was about changing Washington one congressman, one senator at a time.

Check out the media gathered for the announcement of the Ensuring Liberty Corporation and affiliated PAC (there are over 120 press organizations credentialed for the event, including several foreign media outlets).

Tea Party Convention Diaries, Feb. 4, 2010: Palin Already Drawing Crowds

Registration for the first Tea Party Convention started late Thursday afternoon, and the people lining up inside the convention center at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville are already excited about seeing Sarah Palin. She’s not scheduled to speak until Saturday night, but mention her name, and you’ll get an instant smile.

“[Palin] was the draw for us,” said Roxanne, a convention attendee who traveled with her husband Wayne from North Carolina. 

Roxanne is hoping the rumored major snowstorm — anticipation of which is currently sending chills up and down the eastern part of the country — won’t keep Palin from attending.  

“She better brave the snowstorm and get here!”  Roxanne joked.

There were plenty of other Palin fans at the convention Thursday — some more obvious to spot than others, as seen in the video below (singer and songwriter Lisa Mei, who will be performing at the convention, is on the left).

What goes on at a “Tea Party Convention,” no one knows…yet. Because this is the first event of its kind HUMAN EVENTS has sent reporter Elizabeth Meinecke and columnist Katie O’Malley to bring you up to date reports and video footage (you can read Katie’s coverage here). Check back daily for updates on breaking news from Nashville.