Civitas’ Battleground NC Conference Educates and Energizes Hundreds of Activists in Raleigh

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

This article was posted in Online Articles by Helen Rittelmeyer on March 5, 2012 at 1:53 PM.

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Comments on this article

  • 1

    David Prickett
    David Prickett Mar 07, 2012 at 9:05

    Thanks for putting on the CLC. I learned a lot, including how to become more engaged, strategies for getting the conservative message out and perhaps most interesting, techniques for digging up illuminating information regarding public decisions, policies and performance. Plus, it was a real pleasure getting the opportunity to hear Charles Krauthammer speak at the dinner Friday night.

    Everyone at Civitas should be commended for putting on such an outstanding and very timely event!

  • 2

    Ben Perry, Jr.
    Ben Perry, Jr. Mar 07, 2012 at 11:19

    Having been involved in the Great American Political Process only at the voting booth most of my life, I have found that I must be more willing to speak out to my fellow citizens. It is vitally important that we bring our country back to its founding principals while we still can. The CLC this past weekend was so very important in helping me and my wife decide how we will do that. Thank you for a great conference. We appreciate so much what you did for us on Friday and Saturday. Keep up the good work.

  • 3

    Gail Chapman
    Gail Chapman Mar 07, 2012 at 12:17

    The CLC was informative and the attendees did walk away educated and energized. Thank you for your efforts and hard work.
    I only wish that Dallas Woodhouse was allotted more time; he is such a passionate and inspiring speaker.

  • 4

    Hal Chapman
    Hal Chapman Mar 07, 2012 at 13:37

    Congratulations Civitas for an outstanding Conference. I was one of those from Macon and it was well worth the 5hr trip. The entire conference was informative and entertaining. The radio hosts breakout session was a “hoot.” The speeches by Krauthammer,Kemp, Brooks and Lewis were great. My head is still spinning from Ms Hale’s presentation on the “new media”. I never knew that I was so ignorant of what is going on.

    My suggestion is to put the speeches, etc. on a CD, sell them and make some money for Civitas. Keep up the Great Work that all of you do. Hal

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