Americans for Prosperity March 24, 2012

This morning is full of politics. Surprised, huh? Me, too. But when the opportunity came last week to participate as a blogger for this gathering, I couldn’t pass it up.

The day is just getting started. I’ve already met with the group’s president Tim Phillips this morning. Luke Hilgemann, Wisconsin State Director, is the opening speaker.

I’ve decided to run everything as an update under this thread. It could change if things get messy.

Good morning!

Follow Steve Eggleston on Twitter for quick updates.

(Dear Tim. When you start talking football it’s time to switch speakers.)

But more likely the man is filling time because I drove through very dense fog to get here this morning. I have to wonder if there aren’t the speakers backstage that need to be backstage yet.

Stay tuned.

Michelle Malkin takes the stage to a standing ovation. I guess that answers that question.

I have never heard Malkin live. She’s very engaging in this environment, and much more dynamic than her television interviews.

It’s fun to watch.

Malkin recalls Andrew Breitbart to another standing ovation. Then she provides an address to support his children’s education.

(I love kids, and I love education, but I’ll be skipping that one, thanks. I’m pretty sure those kids will be in school without my $20.)

Restoration, preservation. Important points in this election cycle. Not transformation as preferred by the current administration.

Malkin is wrapping it up. Nothing new here, but the crowd is pleased.

BTW, an earlier statement expected the crowd to be 1,000, but I’d guess about 800. I’m really bad at crowd sizing so I will stand corrected if necessary.

Ron Johnson out next. I just got goosebumps. Gosh I like this guy. I teased the spouse this morning it was the main reason I was up and out of the house so early. The spouse agreed it was worth my time. He’s an RJ fan, too. πŸ™‚

Johnson nailed the healthcare argument. The very folks who the Obama administration wants to demonize are the ones who saved his daughter’s life 28 years ago. And he’s moved to the constitution. “Elegant, powerful, extraordinary” words, Johnson says. (I agree!)

U.S. is at 40% of the economy going through government. Greece is 47%. (I don’t think I’d seen hard numbers lately. Thanks for the detail, RJ.)

A reminder of those defending our country receives a standing ovation. (I do love the way conservatives remember those who serve.)

Johnson finishes strongly, but the room empties somewhat as he exits.

The mind can engage only so well when that morning coffee filters through. πŸ™‚

Now we are watching the new rounds of AFP adverts for It’s Working Wisconsin.

The ads are good and can be found on that web link.

Up next is an education bit of 8 or 9 minutes.

(And this is my exit. In my world we call this a flush and fill. πŸ˜‰ )

Editorial stuff here, but the video I just watched was a team effort with the MacIver Institute. Both Americans for Prosperity and MacIver claim to be non-partisan.

That’s a bunch of crap.

They might not be working directly with the Republican National Commmittee although RNC and AFP are both pushing the “Running on Empty” campaign. And then AFP is teaming with MacIver, so the way I see it there are fewer degrees of separation than one would probably expect to let “non-partisan” sit comfortably.

Oh, and Brett Healy from MacIver is on the AFP stage now.

My point? Of course it’s a partisan crowd. Not enough to plunge through IRS designations, but enough that an average reader will know.

Why does it matter? Well, there’s a huge underground battle between the left and the right on this matter in the cheddarsphere right now. Really boring stuff, but it’s out there.

Robin Vos is on stage now. He’s articulating some of the savings communities have enjoyed from Act 10.

It’s been a lunch break the last half hour or so. I keep watching to see when Santorum’s entourage comes to the room. So far, no touring press. (It’s always a little amazing to watch a crowd like that filter into the room. They are a focused bunch.)

Senator Rick Santorum, who is expected to this room soon, is showing just 33% from likely Republican primary voters according to a recent Rasmussen poll.

I will watch this crowd closely. Wisconsin conservatives are not known for quietly absorbing anything. While I suspect they’ll do their best to be respectful, if he misses, he’ll know.

The other thing I know about Wisconsin Republican voters? If someone is at this event, they are not in the undecided crowd. πŸ™‚

An announcement was just made to find our way to our seats. More cameras, more signs. Funny guys walking around talking into their shirt sleeves now.

Staffer running through the crowd…I’d say we’re almost ready for Santorum.

(Cranky Cindy alert. Dang! They really turned down the air conditioning temp during lunch. Good thing I wore a sweater.)

Senator Rick Santorum just took the stage. He doesn’t look nearly as tired as I’m feeling at this point. The stamina required of a candidate amazes me.

“There’s no tougher bullies than the public employee unions.” –Santorum

The mention of Paul Ryan’s name gets an ovation. The man himself is nowhere to be found yet. πŸ™‚

BTW, the crowd did swell after lunch where I’d say 1,000 attendees is more likely. Expect the MJS to call it a “few hundred” and the organizers to call it “more than a thousand.”

I can tell there are indeed genuine Santorum backers in this room. One couple is here with their small son who just fell asleep. And, yes, dozens of folks were pleased to take campaign signs to provide a proper candidate atmosphere.

The crowd response is still somewhat subdued. Rally points from Santorum’s speech are receiving less enthusiasm than the mention of favorite son Paul Ryan a few moments ago.

From 1 to 10 I’d say he’s only managing a 5 right now.

Santorum hitting Romney’s Massachusetts health care plan. He just used the name.

Quiet, quiet room.

Enthusiasm for Santorum that he’s doing well in Louisiana.

Etch a sketch just came out. I need to get up to speed on this one. I missed it last week and I feel left out. πŸ™

I love politics! Right in the middle of Santorum’s speech in Milwaukee Romney’s campaign sends out press release:

Romney Campaign To Hold Conference Call To Discuss Why Rick Santorum’s Record of Reckless Spending Is Wrong For Wisconsin

My neighbor Ted Kanavas will be on that call.

Oh – and the crowd is starting to respond a bit to Santorum. Guns and Bibles were just mentioned.

Santorum defends his English preference in Puerto Rico. I’m pleased to hear him defend the point. I like his point, to be truthful, and I do enjoy a politician who will say the same thing twice.

Out comes the Etch-a-Sketch for Romney on English as an official language.

I’m catching onto this Etch-a-Sketch thing…

It just dawned on me that I left you hanging. I was swept out of the room to be included in a press availability with Santorum.

I’m heading home now and will get it all to you soon.

Santorum says “don’t nominate the moderate” and hits how he is the Ronald Reagan in this race. He makes some wonky comparisons (it’s a wonky crowd, so that works) and he is warming this crowd.

I’d say a third of them were already planning on voting for him April 3rd. I’d say a third (This is where I was interrupted before.) of that crowd is thinking maybe Santorum isn’t that bad a choice after all.

And a third were full-fledged Romney supporters. Including State Senator Alberta Darling who was front and center for that speech.


I have more to offer, but I need to get a few things done yet this afternoon. Expect something before tomorrow evening to wrap this one up.


  1. Yay! for your live feed. Feel like I’m there. Sorta.

  2. Mark Neumann has been pointing out our worse-than-Greece standing for a couple months now. That when I first heard those numbers.

    But then, I’ve noticed RJ and MN have nearly interchangeable resumes, business-wise. (Neumann’s stint in Congress aside.) Like minds, evidently.

  3. I think you are right. I’ve heard Neumann say something similar. This is likely more an element of my slow memory than not hearing it recently. πŸ™‚