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RedState Gathering – The Morning After

RedState Gathering – The Morning After

The drama, the candidates, the selfies

The seventh installment of RedState’s annual conference concluded Sunday morning. 700 conservative activists from far and wide descended upon the Intercontinental Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia. RedState Gathering was two and a half fun-filled days of high profile Republican speakers, bourbon, drama, and turkey sandwiches.

The impressive list of speakers included ten governors, six Congressmen, a handful of conservative media folks, and spokespeople from various activist organizations.

Most of the Republican Presidential field attended. After current GOP front-runner Donald Trump was uninvited to a reception at which he was scheduled to speak Saturday evening, the conference found its way into national headlines.

What did RedState Gathering goers think about Donald Trump’s rescinded invite?

As we reported early Saturday morning, outgoing RedState Editor in Chief Erick Erickson uninvited Donald Trump. Remarks Trump make during an interview with CNN were, “a bridge to far,” according to Erickson.

Several RedState Gathering attendees shared their thoughts on Trump’s forced absence with Ryan Lovelace of the Washington Examiner:

Many attendees at the RedState Gathering wanted to hear from Donald Trump in person, but they think Erick Erickson was right to disinvite him from speaking at the event.

…Many in the audience told the Washington Examiner they did not come to see Trump, and would have attended regardless of whether or not he was scheduled to appear. One woman, who declined to provide her name because she said she did not want to be on the record criticizing Trump, was furious with Trump and said “enough is enough.”

Many others, mostly male, seemed ambivalent about Trump’s departure.

Lance Walker, a RedState attendee, told the Washington Examiner he was not saddened about missing Trump at RedState.

“I think it’s probably appropriate [to rescind Trump’s invitation], just in terms of this is Erick’s gathering, he feels pretty strongly about it, and I think most people would agree,” Walker said. “He [Trump] says a lot of things, taps into an undercurrent, but I think the other candidates say the same things but do not get the same attention.”

Frank Corrick, an attendee from Athens, Ga., said he registered to attend long before Trump announced his intention to visit the gathering. He added, “I’d like to see him, but it’s not my show.”

A few vocal Trump supporters also turned out for the RedState Gathering this weekend, despite Trump’s absence. Michael Pemberton, a RedState attendee, wore a makeshift sign that read “I am Donald Trump.” He said his sign was modeled after the “Je suis Charlie” response to the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, France. For Pemberton, RedState’s rescinding of Trump’s invitation bore some resemblance to the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

“It’s ridiculous, it’s a travesty,” Pemberton said about Erickson’s decision. “This is all about political correctness. I hate political correctness.”

He seemed intent on proving his devotion to being politically incorrect.

“I’ve never been sexually harassed by the way,” Pemberton said in response to a question about Trump’s absence. “There’s several women here that I would be glad to have harass me sexually, but I can’t accommodate. I’m taken.”

Littered with profanity and disparaging remarks, attendees ooo-ed, awwww-ed, and boooo-ed as Erickson read a sampling of pro-Trump hate mail Saturday afternoon. “These are not the people I ever want at a RedState event,” said Erickson.

The candidates

Every Republican presidential hopeful who spoke was well received by conference goers. Some were more engaging than others, but all received standing ovations at the conclusion of their speeches. Sen. Cruz, Gov. Walker, Gov. Perry, and Sen. Rubio evoked the most enthusiasm from the audience.

Even those bearing the scarlet “E” of the dreaded “establishment” were greeted with ample fan fair. Governor Jeb Bush began a little stiff, but found his footing about midway through his speech. He spoke extensively and specifically about immigration reform and handled audience questions with direct, and often humorous poise.

We took the opportunity to focus on three candidates.

Carly Fiorina would not address Donald Trump; focused on her own campaign

A coral-clad Fiorina had the crowd on their feet from the get go.

“Progressives don’t believe that no one of us is any better than any other one of us. In fact, if you look at their policies, if you look at how they talk about things, how they talk about people, whether it’s what they’re doing to defend Planned Parenthood or how they continue to support the teacher’s unions, no matter what they say, the core message is this — some of us are smarter than others, some of us are better than others, some of you can’t really live lives of dignity, purpose, and meaning, and don’t worry, some of us are going to take care of the rest of you. It is the height of disrespect and disregard and it is the fight we must have in 2016,” she began.

Carly Fiorina President 2016 RedState Gathering 2015 Press Conference Donald Trump Kemberlee Kaye

At a press conference following her speech on the main stage Friday afternoon, Fiorina was asked to comment on Donald Trump. Fiorina refused, redirected focus to her campaign, and said her time, attention, and efforts were being spent earning the job, not on what other candidates were doing.

Later Friday evening, Fiorina became the first Republican candidate to address Trump’s remarks about Megyn Kelly.

Consensus on Fiorina? Those who have heard her want to hear more.

Governor Perry talks unity, American Exceptionalism

RedState goers signaled their support of Perry’s message by offering four mid-speech standing ovations. Distinct from other Republican candidates, Perry’s message is one of unity.

“The most consequential president that this country ever had — he was a man who transcended the pettiness of his time in order to preserve this union. Abraham Lincoln turned to scripture when he declared that a house divided against itself cannot stand,” Perry said. “He rose above the pettiness for the sake of the greater good.”

“He could’ve spoke as a conqueror, but he chose to speak as a healer. Lincoln set out to bind wounds of this nation declaring malice towards none with charity for all. Today we have another president from Illinois in the White House and that’s about where the similarities end,” quipped Perry. “He has become a divider in chief, slicing and dicing this electorate… After the trouncing that his party took in 2014, he offered a closed fist instead of an open hand.”

“This presidency has become the imperial petulancy. He has become our nation’s chief cynic, demonizing the opposition at every turn, seeking political advantage instead of consensus.”

“We don’t have to resign ourselves to debt, decay, and slow growth. We have the power to make things new again, to project America’s strength again, to get our economy going again… We don’t have to apologize for American exceptionalism or Western culture.”

Following Perry’s speech on the main stage, we were able to spend a little time with the former Texas Governor and Nebraska’s Governor Pete Ricketts.

“Governor Ricketts and I don’t see the same barber,” Perry joked.

Governor Rick Perry 2016 President Texas Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts Republican Kemberlee Kaye RedState Gathering 2015

The good Governor from Texas also has fantastic taste in eyewear, if I do say so myself.

Texas Governor Rick Perry 2016 RedState Gathering 2015 Atlanta Erick Erickson Kemberlee Kaye

Governor Walker riles up the crowd

Governor Walker closed out RedState Gathering as the last speaker Saturday evening. He amped up his performance and attendees matched his enthusiasm.

Prior to taking the stage, we met with Governor Walker where he shared that his focus would not be on other Republican candidates, but on Hillary Clinton. That sentiment was reflected in the Wisconsin Governor’s opening line. “We need to remind the American people as bad as things are with this president, they’d be much worse if there was a President Hillary Clinton. We cannot let that happen,” said Walker.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker President 2016 RedState Gathering 2015 Kemberlee Kaye

Gracious to his fellow Republicans, Walker described the GOP presidential field as, “some of the best we’ve had since 1980,” while reiterating Hillary Clinton was the opponent to beat.

The only male candidate to do so, Governor Walker opted to forgo the suit jacket and roll up his sleeves. He also wore a FitBit. But that is Governor Walker — down to earth, hard-working, genuine, and unwaveringly focused on beating the opposition on the merits, on all fronts.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker RedState Gathering 2015 Kemberlee Kaye President 2016 Campaign

Governor Walker was one of the only candidates to speak to their digital campaign efforts. Having a solid understanding of how President Obama’s campaign utilized digital platforms to mobilize and activate the grassroots, Walker expressed the desire to leverage the digital space as a means of maximizing voter contact.

Follow Kemberlee Kaye on Twitter @kemberleekaye


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Carson’s lack of an invitation and Erickson’s poor excuse has been widely noted.

Polls show the efforts of the Bush/Clinton league, FOX/Murdoch and Erickson have been less than effective.

    NC Mountain Girl in reply to Uncle Samuel. | August 10, 2015 at 9:12 am

    I suspect those polls are about as accurate as those that always showed a groundswell of support for Ron Paul.

      Uncle Samuel in reply to NC Mountain Girl. | August 10, 2015 at 12:51 pm

      The various polls, plus viewer backlash have caused:

      – Fox to put on extra security

      – Roger Ailes to call and assure Trump that Fox would treat him fairly. Don’t know if apology was included.

      – 37,000 people to sign a petition to ban Megyn Kelly from future Fox debates.

      Hope the Erickson and the GOP are taking some heat as well.

    GrumpyOne in reply to Uncle Samuel. | August 10, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    “Red State” is a tool of the GOP establishment who are in turn slaves to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its cheap labor and open borders agenda.

    For example, the political incorrectness of Donald Trump is the polar opposite of that at Red State and not closely behind, the current administration and the surrender of the leadership of both houses of Congress.

    Intellectual outside-the-box thinking is not welcome there…

Hate to break thread but for those who were evaluating the Tensing video . I found a wide angle slow motion video at daymotion .com . When Tensing stands up and faces the silver car , you can actually see the driveway Sam was parked below , you can also see the hedges and the large tree that was on other side of the driveway . He is clearly at least halfway between Sam’s car (and on opposite side of road)and car parked up ahead about 50 feet. You can also see the white Speed limit sign that in original is halfway between both cars appx 25 ft

    Gremlin1974 in reply to dmi60ex. | August 10, 2015 at 9:12 am

    If you want to make a comment about a different thread, please do so on that thread. I doubt anyone will actually respond to you other than to tell you what I have just said above.

    Also, I would say that when you do put your comment in the correct thread that you be more articulate about the conclusion you are trying to promote, because after reading the rambling above my only response would be; “And? So?”

    Go play CSI:ESL elsewhere, child.

I don’t much care for Trump, but have never cared for Erickson or Red State. I remember several years ago leaving a comment there and someone responded to comment saying I needed to be careful with what I said or I would be banned (he was agreeing with what I said, just warning me to be cautious). The next comment was from a moderator banning that individual from the site and gleefully doing so in crude language. I no longer make comments there, nor do I visit the site often. So yes, they do practice censorship, and quite liberally, and I mean that literally.

I see Trump as nothing but a distraction, from the media agenda.

I don’t see Trump as part of the solution.
Frankly, his admission, during the debate, that he threw around money to get favors is part of the problem.

    MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Neo. | August 10, 2015 at 9:40 am

    The problem for the other candidates, is that while Trump admits he threw around money, he also admits each of the other candidates ( at the debate ) took it.

    Any other candidate who criticizes hi on his manner or such instead of his policies now looks petty.

      I totally agree, and it says more about our permernant political class, including Rand Paul then it ever could about Donald Trump.

      If you had a successful business employing hundreds of people some with families, and you had to – as Mitch McConnell says: “wet my beak” in order to keep running what, I ask you, would you do ? ?

      MarlaHughes in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | August 10, 2015 at 5:06 pm

      No, because everyone tries to support the candidates and issues that agree with their views and ideology, whether it is on a grand scale or just a few dollars here and there. What Trump did is reveal himself as a crony capitalist of the type that doesn’t donate due to agreement on issues, but to purchase favor and access. This tells us that, if Trump achieves his goal of a government job, he will be for sale to the highest bidder because that’s how he thinks politicians operate.
      Perhaps that was what the conversations between him and Cruz was: his offer to purchase Cruz’s supporters or offering his to Cruz to purchase. Simply a business deal. Luckily, I don’t think Cruz thinks like Trump and is not for sale. Neither are a good many that shared the stage with Trump the other night.
      Again, it certainly revealed quite a bit about Trump.

    Neo in reply to Neo. | August 10, 2015 at 9:40 am

    I see Trump as merely gaining political capital to do more dealing .. to help himself.

    If he does make any headway at positioning himself to wheel and deal in DC, the 2020 campaign will be full of millionaires and billionaires doing the same. It will make Citizens United an asterisk.

This Eickerson is part of the cabal that wants to enslave your children and grandchildren.

So when he grandstanded for Bush by disregarding the fact that 200 people had paid to have dinner with Donald Trump at “his show” and then says to anyone who disagrees with him: “These are not the people I ever want at a RedState event,”.

I say P.U., he stinks.

Here is an excerpt from

“There are a few other things we want to make everyone aware of. Did you know that Fox News had a plan to evict Trump from the debates physically? It’s likely that Fox News wanted to provoke Trump into an explosion so that they could have armed guards come in and remove him:

They reviewed not just the questions they would ask, but the structure of every query, keeping in mind the constraints of time and the need to avoid repeating topics. As they sorted and re-sorted questions, the unpredictability of real estate tycoon and reality TV star Donald Trump was never far from their minds.

Baier even had a “nuclear option” at the ready for Trump if he ignored all protocol.

The script — which he didn’t have to use — took a page from Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” TV show. It went like this: “Mr. Trump in your business you have rules. You follow rules. We have rules on this stage. We don’t want to have to escort you to the elevator outside this boardroom.”

“We’re hoping we don’t have to use it,” Baier said later. “We’re locked and loaded.”

— They baited Trump on purpose to then try to evict him.

    GrumpyOne in reply to betty. | August 10, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    Trump did not achieve what he has be being dumb. He has street smarts that exceeded everyone on that stage that evening and as such did not take the bate but actually turned in back in their face as has been reflected in the polls taken since.

    Yep, this country has had enough of political correctness and the silent majority, (which Trump is tapping ever so successfully), has had enough and it is that group that facilitated the Senate GOP victories in November, 2014.

    And it is the GOP establishment RINO congressional leadership that has stabbed the American public in back…

MouseTheLuckyDog | August 10, 2015 at 9:35 am

There is a video on youtube ( too busy to find it now ) of Erickson saying Jeb Bush is the most conservative governor he know. HA HA

As for the rest. Trump has tapped into something ( which I think I understand but that’s for another time ), and part of that something is that when people do things which make it look like he is faltering it only helps him out. The GOPe for the nth time have declared his candidacy dead. Except it isn’t. The latest polls show he is going even stronger then before.

The only politician who has shown that he understands how to cope with the Trump phenomena is Cruz. First thing at the end of the debate that Cruz did was go over and shake Trumps hand. When the illegal alien mess blew up Cruz said, that Trump put it more crudely then he would but he did have a point.

The point is that if Trump falters, Cruz will be in aperfect position to pick up his voters. If Trump does not falter, then the winner will not be mad at Cruz.

    Jeb Bush actually was a very conservative governor. He’s absolutely moved far leftwards since that time, but as governor, what specific acts of his lead you to tag him as anything less than conservative?

      betty in reply to Amy in FL. | August 10, 2015 at 12:36 pm

      OMG are you serious – what years was Jeb governor of Florida?

      “Jeb Bush left the Florida governor’s office in January of 2007, after eight years of service. Three months later, he joined the board of a hospital company that had been pillaging government health programs and abusing patients, in Florida and around the country, for most of the years he sat in the governor’s office.”

      “As soon as that five-year review ended, the same company, now operating as Tenet Healthcare, launched a program to increase profits by gouging Medicare. It took a while for everyone to catch on to the new schemes, but starting in 2002 and running on into 2007, the company faced allegations of fraud, Medicare false claims, patient abuse, overcharging federal health care programs, kickback violations, falsely inflating hospital charges, unnecessary heart operations, unnecessary patient deaths, and SEC violations. ”

        He was governor from 1999-2007. I’ll ask again. What specific acts, during his tenure as governor, lead you to tag him as anything less than conservative? What non-conservative or liberal-leaning bills did he sign into law? What could he have been more conservative on?

        And again, I’m not denying that he’s taken a sad and dramatic left turn since having left office. But during his tenure as governor of Florida, when he was actually our pro-life, pro-gun, pro-privatization, pro-capital punishment, anti-union, tax-cutting governor, it’s hard to imagine what he would have had to have done to have qualified as more conservative than what he was.

          Henry Hawkins in reply to Amy in FL. | August 10, 2015 at 3:59 pm

          Having made this hard left turn in anticipation of running for US president, what Bush did as governor is made irrelevant. He is not promoting the same things, far from it (as you also point out). Having now repainted himself as another Romney-like weathervane candidate (Romney switches parties and policies as needed), Bush’s conservative past is… past, no longer relevant, not to me anyway.

          And if I were an independent who leans left, or a moderate centrist Republican who loves this new de-conservatized Jeb Bush, I wouldn’t trust him not to go conservative again if the political winds blew in that direction.

          what Bush did as governor is made irrelevant

          Yes, I absolutely agree. His leftward slide since leaving office, and the person he is today, are all that matter when considering him as a 2016 Presidential candidate, and it’s good that people point that out.

          But still: Mouse and Betty are both wrong to claim that Bush never was a conservative, that he didn’t govern as a conservative. That’s just not factually correct. It’s one thing to not want him as President — heck, I don’t want that either! But it’s another to make stuff up and lie about his past. If for no other reason than that lying hurts your credibility. Bush is a bad Presidential candidate based on X, Y and Z. Make those points. But don’t manufacture a fake, “dishonorable” past for him that’s so easily debunked. There’s no need – it’s pointless and will end up backfiring on you.

          Henry Hawkins in reply to Amy in FL. | August 10, 2015 at 7:14 pm

          Well, Bush was either a real conservative who abandoned it, or he was a fake conservative in FL doing what he politically had to, perhaps holding his nose while doing so.

          If I had to bet, I’d bet on the latter. For what it’s worth.

          …but that said, even if he was just playing a conservative because that’s what was required, he did do a pretty good job of it. We got some good, solid, conservative framework put into place under his governorship. Glad he waited until after he left office to unmask… unlike his successor, Charlie Crist :-/

          Barry in reply to Amy in FL. | August 11, 2015 at 8:28 pm

          “What specific acts, during his tenure as governor, lead you to tag him as anything less than conservative?”

          Amy, look up state spending and debt during the tenure of Mr. Bush. You will have the answer you seek.

DINORightMarie | August 10, 2015 at 9:57 am

As noted above, the Dr. Ben Carson non-invite – and lame excuse – is the biggest talk I’ve seen on Conservative blogs.

RedState has some recognition, but this debacle – along with the very unpopular disinvite of Trump – will damage the event, long-term, I predict.

Erickson is a blowhard. As self-important, puffed-up, egotistical blowhard. I stopped reading his site long ago…..when he pushed and pushed Perry, slamming all other candidates – then when Perry imploded, he was mean.

Yeah. A ginger blowhard.

There were some WONDERFUL presentations at RedState this year. Everyone should treat themselves to a few hours of great Conservative ideas being expressed in a friendly forum by some of the leading lights of the movement.

I can understand dis-inviting Trump, but reading strongly worded mail from Trump supporters and grandstanding that their kind are not welcome? The heck?

I’ve tried to register at Red State for several days. Emailed the administrator – no reply. Doesen’ matter since I only planned on one comment – I do not trust Erickson anymore.

    Don’t waste your time, even if you do get an account they’ll ban you for any expression of disagreement. It’s a total echo-chamber.

Erik Erikson is small potatoes. He backs losers like Perry the first time. Erik Erikson is also far cruder and unreserved. He also said that Jeb Bush is the most conservative in the room. Now that Erik is a Christian, he should know better than to lie like that.

Erik asked Trump to come. Erik disinvited Trump. He could have invited Ben Carson, instead he invited Megyn Kelly. White knight or political opportunist?

    Ragspierre in reply to Joel. | August 10, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    Dr. Carson was in Iowa Saturday, where he’d planned to be for some time. I think he’s still there today.

I went to RedState; it’s a nice Establishment hangout, no other points of view tolerated, enforced by banhammer. I’d call it PinkState, personally, as it’s not very conservative; but then I would greatly prefer some venue where all points of view were at least tolerated.

Getting hard to find such a venue, as the Cartel knows they’re in for a fight- well, they would be, but so far only from one candidate; that’s why he’s uninvited- can’t have another viewpoint, even from the frontrunner.

Who may yet flame out, that’s a possiblity; so why not have a level playing field until we find out? Too scary for Pinkstate, and for a lot of country club republicrats!

    Henry Hawkins in reply to Eskyman. | August 10, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    “Getting hard to find such a venue..”

    I recommend Legal Insurrection. You won’t get banned either, unless you post something so ugly you’d agree with your own banning. Since 2011 I think I’ve seen maybe.. 3? 4?.. people banned at LI. Smetimes the professor will ban himself for a week or two, but he always comes back. It’s good to hold the God Account.

Erickson knows he is wiser than we, the unclean masses, therefore it is to him to select the Nominee.

I am almost glad they kicked me outta Red-State for opposing the Gay Marriage they won.