What happens in Vegas will not stay there this weekend as legions of Internet-savvy conservatives, including Sarah Palin, plot and share strategies for better competing with liberals in the digital sphere.
The former Alaska governor is just one of many to attend the fifth annual RightOnline conference in Las Vegas. The gathering will feature brand-name conservative figures rallying the masses and Internet activists hoping to maximize their political efforts on social media like Twitter and Facebook. Some attendees will learn how to use Twitter and Facebook for the first time.
The overall goal is to attempt to compete with the liberal and Democrat-aligned collection of bloggers and new media activists who have dominated political activism in the digital sphere, organizers say. In the last presidential election, Democrats were widely viewed as having an edge over Republicans in using the Internet to their political advantage.
"Over the years, RightOnline has built a reputation as the premier conference for bloggers, social media gurus and online activists to network and learn new tactics," organizers posted on RightOnline's website. Attendees will learn "the latest in new media applications and strategy for 2012."
Palin's Friday appearance is sure to excite tea partiers and others in attendance. Since announcing she would not run for president last October, the former Alaska governor has not headlined as many conservative conventions as in the past. Yet she has seen continued success at using new media to promote her own arguments and issues of concern to other conservatives.
Political observers will also watch for any sign that Palin may officially endorse presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney -- something she has not yet done.
In addition to rallying conservative Internet activists, Palin is expected to help honor Andrew Breitbart, who died of heart failure in March at age 43. Like Palin, the conservative blogger regularly breathed fire against the mainstream media and regularly went around it to push stories. Though that made Breitbart a revered figure with conservative, grassroots activists, it also made him a highly controversial figure.
This year, RightOnline will preview the film, "Hating Breitbart" -- a look at his life and controversies. Last year, the RightOnline conference in Minnesota screened the pro-Palin film, "The Undefeated."
Other features for the weekend: speeches from conservative blogger and syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin and political commentator S.E. Cupp. The two-day agenda will also include sessions such as, "Social Media, Smarter: How to Rule Facebook & Twitter," "Digital Activism: How your Mobile Phone is Changing the Face of Grassroots," and "Superblogging: Taking your Blog to the Next Level."
Conservative provocateur James O'Keefe will host a session titled, "Video activism with James O'Keefe: Telling the Real Story." O'Keefe is perhaps best known for going undercover -- dressed as a pimp -- inside offices of community organizing group ACORN in 2009. O'Keefe and a fellow activist allegedly solicited advice from ACORN workers on setting up a brothel and evading taxes. In 2010, O'Keefe attempted to embarrass a CNN correspondent by luring her into a private meeting, and making sexually suggestive comments.
RightOnline is a project of conservative group Americans for Prosperity. Though popular among many conservative groups such as the tea party, AFP has come under fire because it is supported by billionaire corporate titans David and Charles Koch. Critics claim the brothers bankroll conservative political causes to further their own corporate interests -- a claim the brothers and their supporters deny.