IN A PRELUDE to next week's Republican National Convention, the leading minds of the conservative movement will descend upon the seaside resort town of Absecon, NJ for Restoration Weekend. The event will provide a much-needed dose of reflection and relaxation to the nation's leading conservative politicians and activists as they prepare for a grueling four-month countdown to Election Day.
"Now in its fifth year, Restoration Weekend is one of the most talked about events on the nation's political calendar, and is already the recognized alternative to the [liberals'] annual Renaissance-fest at Hilton Head (and much more fun)," said David Horowitz, president of the Los Angeles-based Center for the Study of Popular Culture (CSPC), the event's sponsor.
Within an hour's drive of Philadelphia, the site of this year's GOP convention, this year's Restoration Weekend is expected to be the most important in the event's history. Numerous conservative luminaries have already confirmed their attendance at the event. Their ranks include Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ); Representatives attending the event include Asa Hutchison (R-AR), Jim Rogan (R-CA), Curt Weldon (R-PA), Dan Burton (R-IN), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Mark Sanford (R-SC), and Majority Whip Tom Delay (R-TX). Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge will also attend the event, as will journalists Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity and activists Ward Connerly and Wayne LaPierre.
Restoration Weekend will engage these leaders in the issues that dominate the nation's political agenda. The event will feature panel discussions on topics such the fate of the Microsoft Corporation, "National Security Crisis & The Elections," and "Who is Hillary?". Between speeches and discussions, conferees will have the opportunity to partake of deep-sea fishing, tennis, and two 18-hole PGA championship golf courses. The event will also feature plenty of entertainment. The political satire troupe "The Capital Steps" will appear at the event, as will Libertarian comedian Tim Slagle.
"Many lasting friendships and business relationships have formed and sustained in the warm, refined air of the event," said CSPC's Monty Warner, an organizer of Restoration Weekend.
In previous years, "The Weekend" has provided conservatives the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas. It has also provided an important venue for conservative leaders to discuss their agendas. At the1998 event in Phoenix, AZ, for example, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) used the weekend to announce his presidential campaign. At last year's event in Colorado Springs, GOP Presidential nominee George W. Bush addressed the conference through a taped presentation.
Organizers expect this year's Restoration Weekend to be even more significant. The proximity of the GOP Convention, organizers say, has led to remarkably high interest in the event. And because of the platform battles and policy debates that will ensue at the convention, Restoration Weekend takes on an added air of importance.
"The Weekend is an extraordinary gathering and entertainment," said Mr. Horowitz, "that allows participants to get up-close and personal with the shakers and shapers of America's future, and to participate in the shaping itself."
For more on the Restoration Weekend, click here.