Gun rights, abortion, and immigration topped the agenda at the CPAC West held on September 13 in Reno, Nevada. Organized by the national American Conservative Union and the Morning in Nevada Political Action Committee, the event was one of the first state-based meetings designed to motivate swing-state voters to reelect President Donald Trump and send more conservatives to Congress in 2020.
“Every one of you has more power than you can possibly imagine. Don’t just rail against the mainstream news, compete with it,” urged National Review Online columnist John Fund. Conservatives need to start sharing their views with people they know, via social media and other means if they want to advance conservatism, he said.
The crowd of about 200 at the Grand Sierra Resort gave an enthusiastic welcome to American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp and his wife, Mercedes Schlapp, who served as President Trump’s Director of Strategic Communications and is now a senior adviser to the Trump 2020 reelection campaign.
Mercedes Schlapp gave the attendees an insider’s view of how the president operates within his circle of trusted advisers. She said that he gathers his staff daily and asks for their input on the issues of the day. She said he genuinely wants their opinions and will change his mind if he thinks they’ve made a good case.
The lively panel discussion about Trump’s effect on American politics was moderated by Matt Schlapp, who said he’d worked with several other presidents, but Trump is the only one who didn’t make him feel like an outsider in an exclusive club.
“He gets my message; he gets the American people’s message,” he said. “Washington insiders in the Republican party for years acted against conservatives. Conservatives picked Donald Trump in 2016.”
Former Colorado Congressman Bob Beauprez told how just four powerful progressives turned Colorado from reliably Republican to overwhelmingly Democrat. Beauprez said that even though Trump polls poorly in Colorado today, if put up against Elizabeth Warren, Colorado will return him to the White House.
Democrats’ efforts to flip Republican states was a recurring theme throughout the day.
In discussing immigration, John Fund said the current illegal immigration wave is merely an attempt by Democrats to add to their voter base.
“The Democrats, after Reagan, figured out the country was not with them. If you can’t win with the old majority, invent a new one either through voter fraud or new voters, that’s what this (immigration) is all about,” Fund said. Democrats aren’t interested in immigration reform, but instead are pushing for the rights of non-citizens to vote in local elections, he said.
Progressives’ efforts to muzzle conservative views, especially in regard to abortion, also got substantial attention by panelists.
Conference attendees heard from Eric Cochran, the former Pinterest software engineer, who was fired from the social media company after exposing how pro-life, Christian, and conservative content was hidden from users by labeling those posts as pornographic, hate speech, or in violation of the company’s “community standards.”
Cochran now works with Project Veritas, which also has had its pro-life content censored on Twitter, YouTube, and Google. Cochrane said he hopes his exposure of censorship by the social media companies will cause more employees and users to come forward and demand more transparent censorship rules, or lose the protection given to publishers under the First Amendment.
Threats to the Second Amendment were addressed by Maj Toure, founder of the gun-rights group Black Guns Matter, a firearms safety and training organization. “There is a highly organized phenomenon to make sure the Second Amendment doesn’t exist anymore,” he told the crowd.
He had an audience member read aloud the text of the Second Amendment and then detailed how gun control puts urban lives at risk.
“If the right to keep and bear arms is necessary for the security of a free state and we have more and more states with our urban brothers and sisters that are having more and more restrictions placed on those, do we have a free state? No… we have a slave state,” he said.
“When there is no respect for the Second Amendment and a general disrespect for the culture of firearms ownership, that goes hand-in-hand with violence. Gun control is a part of racism.”
Nevada is just one of the states where ACU is holding local conferences this year. For years Nevada had been a reliable Republican base, but in 2018 Silver State voters sent Democrat Steve Sisolak to the governor’s office and threw out incumbent Republican Sen. Dean Heller in favor of Democrat Jacky Rosen.
The swing state conferences are a sample of the national CPAC (Conservative Political Action Committee) held each February in Washington, D.C. The smaller events are a way to “bring the spirit of CPAC to the people” who can’t come to the national event, explained Ian Walters, ACU Communications Director. Walters said the state-level meeting are designed to motivate conservatives and give them the tools to effectively work on campaigns.
In the next few months, similar events are planned for Atlanta, Georgia and Memphis, Tennessee.
Debra Janssen-Martinez contributed to this report.
Joyce Swanson is a freelance writer based in San Jose, Calif.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.