Speakers discuss GOP fumbles at Steamboat conference | SteamboatToday.com

Speakers discuss GOP fumbles at Steamboat conference

Zach Fridell

— The key to a conservative resurgence is to reach the voters who have been ignored or fumbled by conservative groups in the past, speakers said during the final day of the Freedom Conference on Saturday in Ste­­amboat Springs.

The Walmart shoppers, women and youth voters were not handled well in the past election, but speakers said that by recognizing the problems, the conservative movement can help convert those voters.

"This year of the conservative woman, I consider it the century of the conservative woman," radio talk-show host Amy Oliver told the crowd during a panel discussion. "Every time the government takes one dime out of my pocket, what it says to me as a mom … is this is more important than my kids' school supplies."

Co-panelist Kellyanne Con­way said female voters are increasingly interested in financial policies and are more financially sophisticated than they are often given credit for by political organizers.

Two combined ballrooms were nearly full on the second day, and more than 200 people registered for the full conference, organizers said. The conference was hosted by The Steamboat Institute, described as a conservative counterpoint to the Aspen Institute.

Speaker Jason Mattera told

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the audience that Barack Obama's campaign was more eff­ective than the conservative counterpoint at reaching the youth voters, as well.

Mattera, the author of "Obama Zombies," said many people in his generation were taken in by the flash and glitz of Obama's campaign.

During a Q-and-A after his remarks, Steamboat resident Cheri Carsten asked how she could help her grandchildren not become "zombies."

Mattera said young people are naturally rebellious and because the liberal agenda is popular at the moment, the conservative ideas will "sound innovative and fresh."

After the event, Carsten said she was going to have Mattera autograph the book to send to her 20-year-old granddaughter in Atlanta. She said the conference was a good chance for her to hear new ideas and get answers.

"It's that energy and sense when you're in a conversation with people and you're not sure what to say, I got the information here," she said.

Mattera emphasized that it's possible to convert younger voters by speaking to them in ways they can understand and relate to — not a typical strength for the GOP. One example is how the Obama campaign held rallies at colleges and had a massive online presence while the GOP fell behind.

Steamboat resident and attendee Skip Moyer said the speakers were "absolutely eye-opening," even for him, someone who follows politics.

He said he was surprised to hear how Republicans were out-maneuvered when it came to the youth vote, and he thinks knowing that will help in the next election.