Texas Governor Rick Perry hosted a blogger meet-up in Austin, Texas this last weekend.
Friday night, twenty of us met up at the gun range with the Governor. He showed fellow bloggers Kathleen McKinley and Robbie Cooper and me how to shoot his laser-guided, tiny Ruger LCP .380. It was a nice, light little gun, but the loooooong trigger was irritating. Roger Simon has a humorous piece about his gun trepidation that’s worth reading.
Robbie also shared his .45 with me and I got to shoot a clip from his gun. I am left-eye dominant and right hand socialized, which means that I should be left handed (and in some sports I am). This makes me a not-so-great shot. Turns out that Robbie has the same problem and he helped me correct for that. He was very helpful. (A marine would be, don’t you think?)
Kathleen brought her .22 and I shot from that gun, too. Lighter, with less kick. Nice gun. I’m looking for something to carry in my purse. I liked the power of the .45, the size of the Ruger. It’s clear that I haven’t found my favorite gun yet.
It had been years since I’d shot. It is so much fun. I will be doing that again.
The gun range owner told me that Governor Perry frequents the establishment regularly with most people not realizing the Governor is right there. He likes shooting and is a natural sportsman. I believe it. It was obvious he was having a good time. He arrived a little late to the range, but didn’t seem to want to leave.
Following the gun range, there was a reception at a local bar on 6th street in Austin. 6th Street is, for those who don’t know, the “strip” of Austin. There’s lots of bars and music joints. University of Texas is right there. Lots of youthful energy and fun in the neighborhood.
The conference itself was held at the AT&T Conference center. (Conference planners everywhere, take note. This is the best facility I’ve been in, in years.) The room was stadium-style, classroom seating with WiFi and pop-up plugs for electricity. Very nice. Do you know how many conferences are ill-equipped to serve bloggers and news people? When it’s a struggle to get power and internet access, frustration ensues. People like to work easily.
Will Franklin, Governor Perry’s New Media Coordinator, deserves credit for creating a tech-savvy environment for the bloggers. Will hosted the event and introduced the panel moderators. Pictures from Governor Perry’s photographer here.
Panel One: Turning Ideas Into Action moderated by Ryan Gravatt and hosted by Jim Eustace and Patrick Ruffini. Most of us know Patrick from his blogging and his work on campaigns. He talked about amplifying messages. Jim Eustace I had never met or heard before. He encouraged blogging activists to get better about analyzing their metrics, etc. Some people might have been snoozing about this topic, but I was eating it up. Bloggers fall into two categories–idea people who use tech and tech people who put forth ideas. I’m the former–an admitted “techtard” and their advice was excellent. I wanted them to keep talking. The talk ended much too soon.
Panel Two: Keeping Conservative Momentum moderated by Ben Domenech and hosted by Matt Lewis and Me. Ben I hadn’t met before–seen his name everywhere, linked his work, etc. What a great guy…and his voice, wow! Turns out that he has a podcast over at Breitbart, too. Anyway, Ben was the best moderator I have ever seen in action. Lucky me! He moderated my panel. Basically Matt and I talked about transforming the Tea Party energy and anger into action. It’s happening. We also talked about the genesis of some of the current messaging problems in the GOP. We also talked about the D.C. culture and how it’s difficult to adhere to conservative values for politicians, thinkers and writers alike. It’s a constant fight.
Panel Three: Growing Influence moderated by Brad Jackson and hosted by Roger Simon and Andrew Breitbart. Roger Simon and Andrew Breitbart agreed about one thing: making money in this business is hard. Ad revenue is down among all media, including new media. Breitbart made many provocative statements. To sum up: He wants to destroy the Mainstream Media. After hearing him recount the media’s treatment of Linda Trip regarding Bill Clinton, I want them destroyed, too. He said,”The media turned a predator (Clinton) into a victim and destroyed a common citizen, Linda Tripp.” Indeed.
There was a break, we were provided boxed lunches (pesto chicken was my choice, if you must know) and went back in to the conference where Governor Perry gave a short spiel about the success of Texas and why he’s hoping to be re-elected. “It’s simple,” he said. And outlined his four pillars of good governance: Low taxes, reasonable regulations, constrained lawsuit environment (torte laws), and an educated workforce. The Governor just rejected Federal education money because he didn’t want the strings attached. He did the same with the Stimulus bill. Turns out to be a wise decision.
Governor Perry introduced Andrew again. Andrew doesn’t do prepared speeches, he said. Well, he gave a good one nonetheless. Link to Breitbart interview at event here.
The operative word was “Courage”. He talked about the courage to take risks in this business. He related how in Hollywood, there is a bubble, that it’s very social and people outside of the accepted belief system are ostracized. At one party he was surrounded by 40 Obama supporters who were yelling at him while his wife cried to the side.
Andrew shared the story of liberals who took risks to expose their own and how they received death threats. He spoke of shepherding the ACORN story because of how the media destroys those who oppose liberal ideology. He painted a stark picture. The speech was rousing.
It seemed fitting that the home of the Alamo was the home for a rallying call to bloggers and activists to fight and fight with courage.
The Conference was one of the best for meeting fellow citizen journalists, activists, and campaign operators. The panels were informative. The speeches inspired.
Ben Domenech on Twitter says that he “hope other candidates do these kind of low pressure outreach activities.” Indeed.
For those interested in hearing Governor Perry speak in Houston, he’ll be stumping with Sarah Palin here on February 7, 2010. Tickets at the link.
Also, I have video of this whole shindig, but still need to cut and edit it. Will attempt to upload this to YouTube. Wish me luck!
Note: All pictures courtesy Rick Perry’s official photographer.