Here's one example of how the hotbox of a conference can affect political reality. In Orlando, before Herman Cain won the GOP's Presidency 5 Straw Poll, there was absolutely no anti-Cain material to be found. Cain's emergence as the poll's landslide winner came organically, and quickly, as voters who liked both Cain and Perry switched their allegiences.
Inside the Omni Shoreham, there is no real anti-Cain agitprop, but there is an unhelpful one-pager at the National Organization for Marriage booth which informs people how candidates have answered the 2012 Pro-Marriage Presidential Pledge. This is the one that commits candidates to establish a special commission to investigate crimes against gay marriage opponents, among other things. And it tells us that Gingrich, Paul, and Cain have NOT signed the pledge. Will he "advance legislation to return to the people of the District"? UNKNOWN. Will he support a federal marriage amendment? NO.
I met two conference attendees, Larry and Lois Gladfeiler, who said they'd learned this, then seen Santorum speak, and moved their allegience accordingly.
Of course, they're saying this before Cain gets a chance to blow the doors off the place. Gary Bauer, the former FRC head who now runs American Values, made sure that I knew Cain got 45 percent in an e-mail poll of his members. Of course, "this is a really fluid race. The people who say they're for Cain right now, maybe in a couple of weeks they decide they like Michele Bachmann.
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