A report from America Unplugged

Last night, I moderated the America Unplugged: Undoing ObamaCare event staged by AM 1280 The Patriot and Salem Communications here in the Twin Cities (note: Hot Air is owned by Salem Communications).  One of my friends from the Left, Eric Black of the MinnPost, attended the event, although I didn’t realize it until I read his report from the event.  Eric gives a good overview of the presentation, although somewhat more skeptical about the success of the event:

The event at Orchestra Hall last night was titled “Undoing ObamaCare.” Gov. Tim Pawlenty plus radio talksters Michael Medved and Hugh Hewitt (with a special video appearance by Rep. Michele Bachmann) explained to a few hundred enthusiastic Minnesota conservatives how it was going to happen, if Republicans don’t allow themselves to get distracted from the one issue that has turned the political climate in their favor. That issue is freedom, and the threat that government represents to it.

“The more that government grows, the more that freedom shrinks, Americans understand that,” Medved told the cheering audience. …

Hewitt, a lawyer, said there is a good chance that the U.S. Supreme Court will strike down the individual mandate in the health care bill. He figures there are already four votes to uphold that provision, four to strike it down, and the ruling will depend on “which side of the bed Justice [Anthony] Kennedy gets up on that morning.” …

The event was an opportunity to note the themes and word choices being employed by two of the smarter, more substantive rightie-talkers, plus our outgoing governor, who is preparing to run for president. Although he said nothing about that, Pawlenty focused on national issues and spoke mostly as the leader of his PAC, Freedom First.

The “few hundred” was closer to 900, the number of tickets that the station sold for the event, according to the word I got. Orchestra Hall is a large venue that seats around 2000, counting the balconies, but it’s one of the few local to downtown that can handle the number that eventually arrived. There was also a VIP dinner prior to the event which served as the backdrop for Hugh’s radio broadcast, which drew well over 100 attendees. Overall, that’s a successful event, and as Eric accurately notes, an enthusiastically successful one.

As is appropriate for an opinion site like MinnPost, Eric adds a dash or two of his personal perspective of the “conservative rhetoric,” but the report quotes everyone fairly, including myself. Interestingly, despite the reported attendance of a crew from local CBS affiliate WCCO, there doesn’t appear to have been any other local reporting about the event.

From my perspective, America Unplugged: Undoing ObamaCare provided our guests with plenty of intriguing and provocative debate, deft policy analyses, and good advice for conservatives on how to best proceed in 2010 and 2012. I had the pleasure of sharing a stage with Michael Medved, Governor Pawlenty, and especially Hugh Hewitt, who has been a mentor to me for almost my entire blogging career — and I got to ask the questions rather than answer them. The America Unplugged tour continues through other cities with Salem radio stations, so be sure to check with your local affiliates for upcoming dates.

Update: Pawlenty’s Freedom First PAC is holding a contest to select its next round of endorsements; the Weekly Standard provides an update and suggests that Pawlenty may have the “techie” lead among GOP contenders in 2012.

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