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Keeping Tabs on the Americans for Prosperity Summit

Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a prime arm of the now popularized “Kochtopus,” is hosting its Defending the American Dream summit today in DC. I’m not in attendance, but Dave Weigel is there, live blogging, and he’s doing a great job capturing the feel of the convention:

So are the Kochs cowering from the exposure? Hardly. David Koch himself is speaking at tonight’s “Tribute to Ronald Reagan” Dinner, in between Siv Jensen, leader of the Norwegian Progress Party, and Tim Phillips, AFP’s president and public face.

I’ve been to four other AFP conferences and it doesn’t seem like this year’s hook — easy access to Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally — has changed the make-up of the crowd. It’s a tea party crowd, largely white (although I have yet to enter a room with an all-white crowd), fairly old, incredibly excited.

As far as content, the summit is broken up into a number of educational and strategy sessions for activists, designed so that they can take back knowledge and skills to their home districts. At one election strategy session this morning, Weigel noted that while the organizers were mainly focused on relaying organizing tips, some activists were more concerned about protecting the AFP brand and the possibility of voter fraud, a perennial concern in conservative circles:

Part of protecting the AFP brand was fighting back when Democrats attacked the organization; we saw a web ad AFP put together in response to an attack from President Obama. The audience was sold, and mostly wanted to know more about social media and the possibility of voter fraud or vote suppression. [Strategist Sean] Noble suggested that the fact that the Justice Department did not go after the New Black Panther Party, after two members were taped lurking outside of a polling place in 2008,

“Because they didn’t prosecute,” said Noble, “there’s going to be less voter fraud, because there are going to be more antenna up.” He suggested that activists might want to follow the example of conservatives in Massachusetts in January 2009 who took video cameras to polls to film voters coming out and prevent them from voting twice, as they’d heard the SEIU was plotting to do.

“It totally shut them down,” said Noble.

“Alright!” said one voice in the crowd, as the rest of the room applauded.

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