More than 600 attendees from as far away as Macon County and Wrightsville Beach traveled to Raleigh for the Conservative Leadership Conference (CLC) this past weekend. Attendees heard national figures including columnist Charles Krauthammer address North Carolina issues, such as the upcoming Marriage Amendment vote and President Obama’s chances of winning the state in 2012.
‘OBAMA CAN WIN NC’
The odds of the GOP reclaiming the White House in November stand at 50–50, Krauthammer said in his speech to a packed dinner crowd Friday evening. President Obama may have overplayed his hand and “misread the mood of the country,” he explained, but Republicans have hurt themselves by running a primary race that resembles “a clown-car demolition derby.”
The presidential race was also rated a toss-up by Arthur C. Brooks, head of the American Enterprise Institute. Brooks predicted that President Obama’s policies would provoke a conservative backlash, just as Jimmy Carter’s presidency paved the way for Ronald Reagan.
“The question is, do we need a full Jimmy Carter or a double Jimmy Carter (to inspire a large enough backlash)?” he said. “And I don’t know the answer to that.”
Civitas Institute president Francis De Luca’s assessment of the race was clear from the title of the talk he delivered on Saturday: “Obama Can Win NC.”
With their national convention set to be held in Charlotte in September, the Democrats are getting a jump on the GOP in setting up their state organization, De Luca explained. Democratic convention planners have already begun appointing “welcoming committees” headed by “convention community organizers” in each of the state’s 100 counties.
De Luca also shared results from the latest Civitas poll, taken a week before the CLC, which pitted the four remaining Republican contenders against President Obama in head-to-head match-ups. Santorum polled best with a 47–47 tie, followed by Romney at 46–48. Romney had performed better in previous polls.
“Maybe the long primary is hurting him,” De Luca said.
MARRIAGE AMENDMENT IN MAY
Before the November election rolls around, North Carolinians will decide on May 8 whether to approve a state constitutional amendment defining the only marriage recognized by the State to be that of one man and one woman. The case for voting “Yes” was made on Friday by Jordan Lorence of the Alliance Defense Fund, a group that assisted in the legal defense of California’s Prop 8.
“Intense love is a private reason for getting married, but it’s not a public-policy reason,” Lorence explained.
Supporters of the amendment should cite social-scientific evidence, he said, which suggests “deviation from the basic model yields bad outcomes.” He noted that his own experience confirms this consensus.
“The best gift our parents ever gave us was staying married, even though they had a difficult marriage,” Lorence said. “Now my brother is a stock broker and my other brother is a design engineer for General Mills, and I run around suing everybody.”
“A uniform definition of marriage versus everybody does whatever they feel like” was his summary of the national gay-marriage debate.
Lorence’s remarks came less than 24 hours after Maryland’s governor signed a bill establishing gay marriage in that state. Opponents hope to overturn the law with a referendum in November.
No one knows Georgia’s photo-ID voting requirement better than Brian Kemp, who as Georgia’s secretary of state has been in charge of implementing the law since its passage in 2006. Kemp also led the judicial battle to get the law enacted in the first place.
“We sued the Obama Justice Department and won both times,” Kemp told CLC on Saturday. Georgia needs federal approval to change its voting laws, under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
African-American turnout increased by 42 percent in the four years after the voter-ID law’s passage, Kemp said, dramatically undermining the argument made by the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, and other voter-ID opponents that such requirements are racially discriminatory.
“It’s kept thousand of people who aren’t citizens from registering to vote” was Hans Von Spakovsky’s assessment of the Georgia law. Von Spakovsky is a Heritage Foundation expert in election reform and served in the Justice Department’s Voting Rights Section under President George W. Bush.
He recounted numerous stories of voter fraud from California, Tennessee, and New York in his CLC remarks on Saturday, and asked, “What’s the common thread in all these cases?”
“It wasn’t election officials who caught this. It was other people.”
He praised the efforts of True the Vote, an election-fraud watchdog group that grew out of a Houston Tea Party. True the Vote now operates in North Carolina, in association with the local Voter Integrity Project, and Von Spakovsky urged attendees to get involved with the group. “And they didn’t pay me to say that,” he added.
RADIO HOST DISCUSSES INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS
Nationally-syndicated radio host Jason Lewis discussed the importance of adhering to the U.S. Constitution and providing checks on government power in his lunchtime address Saturday. Lewis cited 19th-century French economist Frederic Bastiat’s measure for determining whether or not government actions are proper or not: try doing that action yourself. If that action is something that would get a private citizen arrested, like using force to take property from a citizen to give it to another, then government likewise has no right to engage in such action.
ATTENDEES WALK AWAY EDUCATED AND ENERGIZED
After two days of informative breakout sessions and inspiring commentary from nationally-recognized speakers such as Krauthammer, Brooks and Lewis, CLC attendees walked away with greater knowledge and passion to apply to the political battleground North Carolina is sure to become in 2012.