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PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Donna Scala was surprised to find she felt so at home among her fellow attendees at this weekend’s RightOnline conference.
“I’ve never been in a room with this many conservatives before,” Ms. Scala, a Democrat from Beaver Falls, Pa., said after attending the two-day conference sponsored by the Americans For Prosperity foundation.
During Saturday afternoon’s final panel discussion, Ms. Scala drew applause when she stood up to ask a question, which she prefaced by introducing herself as “a Democrat who did not vote for Obama.”
A trio of panelists — Red State’s Erick Erickson, Robert Bluey of the Heritage Foundation and Matt Lewis of AOL’s Politics Daily — had been discussing how conservatives can have influence with Democrats controlling both the White House a majority in Congress. Ms. Scala stood up to say that many of her Democratic friends have been dismayed by the broken promises of the Obama administration.
“I’m talking to Democrats who voted for Obama, but this isn’t the ‘Change’ they voted for,” she said.
In an interview afterwards, Ms. Scala explained that many Democrats in her community are “disappointed, but they’re afraid to speak out, because they’ve always been just Democrats.”
Ms. Scala said she was excited to learn the online technology skills taught during RightOnline seminars. A fan of Fox News and radio talk-show host Glenn Beck, she said that Twitter fit Beck’s advice to “find one thing and focus on it.”
Such moments of discovery are encouraging to RightOnline’s director, Erik Telford.
“Honestly, for me, the highlights [of the conference] are seeing the grassroots activists who come to learn how to start their own blogs, how to use Facebook, Twitter and other online tools,” said Telford, who estimated the total attendance at the Pittsburgh conference as exceeding 700.
Among the speakers at the conference were Michelle Malkin, James Pinkerton, Ed Morrissey of HotAir.com, the Wall Street Journal’s John Fund and Stephen Moore, and Pennsylvania Senate candidate Pat Toomey.
While many older activists were learning New Media technology, there was no shortage of young grassroots conservatives on hand — an encouraging development, said Barbara Espinosa, who traveled from Scottsdale, Ariz., to attend the event.
“If these young bloggers are the future of the news media then we are in for a treat in reading the daily news. The attendees were all age groups involved and active in their community and politics,” Ms. Espinosa wrote on her American Freedom blog.
Ms. Espinosa, a widow, grandmother and native Texan who does not wish to disclose her age, said that the first Republican presidential candidate for whom she voted was Ronald Reagan in 1980.
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