The Republican Liberty Caucus (www.rlc.org) held its biennial national convention in Arlington, Virginia, on February 12, coincident with the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which was being held across the Potomac in Washington, D.C., that same weekend.
The day was full of policy discussions and speeches, punctuated by a business session at which new officers were elected to lead the RLC for the next two years. Dave Nalle of Texas was re-elected as chairman, Aaron Biterman of Virginia was re-elected as vice chairman, Jason
Jeff Hellenberg of Florida was re-elected as secretary, and Matt Nye (also of Florida) was elected treasurer, defeating longtime RLC activist Bill Westmiller, who in turn was elected an at-large member of the board of directors.
The evening banquet featured two prominent speakers: investment analyst and 2010 candidate for the GOP Senate nomination in Connecticut, Peter Schiff, and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, who is a potential candidate for President in 2012.
Schiff is the co-author of How an Economy Grows and Why It Crashes (with Andrew J. Schiff) and of Crash Proof 2.0: How to Profit From the Economic Collapse (with John Downes), as well as author of The Little Book of Bull Moves in Bear Markets: How to Keep Your Portfolio Up When the Market is Down. He is widely credited with predicting the dramatic economic downturn of 2008 when other economists were caught with their pants around their ankles.
Schiff spoke briefly and was well-received by the RLC members, many of whom subscribe to the theories of the Austrian school of economics that are consonant with much of Schiff's analysis.
With apologies for the dim lighting (something customary in hotel banquet rooms at dinnertime), here is the video of Peter Schiff's remarks:
The Republican Liberty Caucus also sponsored a straw poll that day, and Johnson took first place in that instance, with more than double the votes received by Texas Congressman Ron Paul (who is still a favorite among libertarian Republicans) and six times the number of votes received by the third-place finisher, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Johnson has been traveling across the country -- including numerous visits to New Hampshire and Iowa -- delivering his message, which is largely autobiographical. He talks about his experience as governor of New Mexico, where the registered voters have a 2 to 1 ratio of Democrats to Republicans, and how he was able to reduce the size and scope of government while vetoing 750 bills, some of which were passed unanimously in the state legislature. Yet only two of his vetoes were overturned. During his eight years in office, he vetoed more bills than all of the other 49 governors put together.
In his remarks, Johnson also pointed out how he had come to believe, during his term as governor, that the criminalization of marijuana is wrong-headed, that it is a waste of money and other resources, and that we need to rethink the drug war. Johnson was one of the few incumbent politicians to come out in favor of legalizing marijuana and he has not backed down from his position despite criticism.
Here is part one of Governor Johnson's dinner speech, which begins after a short introduction by RLC national chairman Dave Nalle:
Here is part two of Gary Johnson's RLC speech:
Early in this segment, Johnson salutes Peter Schiff for his on-target analysis of our economic situation -- more than a polite gesture, the former New Mexico governor shows a great deal of passion about how the federal government needs to cut spending, including in entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, as well as defense and so-called "discretionary" spending.
Johnson also talks about his opposition to the Iraq War from the outset, and how he thinks the United States should get out of Afghanistan "tomorrow."
More RLC videos will be posted here later.