First, there were a lot of people. 1,600, and they said that they turned away more people. A lot of these are Republican activists. Some of them are the standard crowd that you always see at these things. But not always. The core of the huge North Carolina delegation was the rebuilding North Carolina Young Republicans. I saw both more energy and, to a degree, more seriousness than other conservative confabs.
Second, this is for a different set of issues. There has not been, really, a real economic conservative grassroots group in this country for a while. Americans for Tax Reform is a product of Washington with little reach beyond, perhaps, satellite meetings. Club for Growth is important, but donor focused. The meetings are a bunch of rich guys. There have been fusionist movement organizations (Republican Assemblies). There have been real social conservative groups. But, again, nothing like this.
Third, they got attention. All the prez candidates were there. The people came jazzed. They left (at least at noon on Friday, when I left) even more jazzed.
Fourth, the party was not present. The RNC was not there moving swag or signing people up. The Young Republicans and College Republicans didn’t have tables. Neither did the women. The Libertarians were there though, and they don’t really matter.
The upshot is that we may see the beginning of a new movement in American politics. Putting bodies in rooms is a real test. Seeing this level of success is very hopeful. It will be interesting to compare this with Washington Briefing, sponsored by FRC, next week.