Fiscal Conservatives Rally, Work on Message

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WASHINGTON - The largest gathering of fiscal conservatives in the country was particularly worked up at this year's Washington conference of Americans for Prosperity.

They're mad that Capitol Hill liberals are blaming the free market and capitalism for the current economic crisis.

Click play for comments from Maya MacGuineas of the Responsible Federal Budget Commission.

"Now they want to scurry away and blame an economic system, economic freedom that for over 200 years has lifted more people out of poverty and despair than in the history of the world," said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity.

But AFP's annual gathering is as much about equipping conservatives as it is having them rally and demonstrate.

The old-style politics is do something like this: a rally where many people gather in one place to deliver a message.

But the New Politics is many people deliver many messages from every place. And that's possible through New Media.

But right now, conservatives who work in New Media worry liberals are running circles around them -- like using many more aspects of the worldwide Web for tons more fund-raising.

"Where they've raised tens of millions of dollars and our attempts at parrying that have fallen flat on their face, only raising tens of thousands," said Erik Telford, a blogger for AFP.

Telford was labelled AFP's New Media manager.

"Too many folks started asking me what happened to the old one," Telford said.

He and others trained dozens of wanna-be bloggers and New Media fans at the AFP conference.

One conservative already working at full-capacity in New Media is Maggie Thurber, a former Ohio state representative, now an active blogger and user of all the digital or computerized media she can put her fingers on.

She thinks one reason liberals may be better users of New Media is their very nature, what she calls a pack mentality.

"If some right-wing organization said 'here are the talking points, go out and do this,' you'd have all the conservative bloggers sitting there going, 'now wait a minute, what about this and what about that?' We're very independent-minded. So it's more like herding cats than it is herding sheep," Thurber said.

But Rob Bluey, the head of Heritage Foundation's blog-force, thinks conservatives are slowly but surely getting their act together, like defeating President Bush's first choice for the Supreme Court.

"I think the Harriet Miers fight was absolutely a victory for the blogosphere. I think that both the John Roberts and the Samuel Alito confirmations were as well," Bluey said.

So what goes into the category of New Media? These experts reel off names like RedState.Com, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Wikipedia.

Telford says when Al Gore asked everyone to bike or take public transport to a green gathering, he showed up in a whole convoy of SUVs and huge cars. Telford's group put video of the contradiction right onto YouTube.

AFP is teaching conservatives to use the mega-encyclopedia of the Web, Wikipedia, which many don't realize is written and edited by ordinary folks.

Telford points out what happened right after John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate.

"2.4 million people in one day went to her Wikipedia page," he said.

A perfect example of the kind of impact those who shape the New Media can have.

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