Keystone Progress held its sixth annual Progressive Summit Friday and Saturday and this year they sold it out. 800 people gathered at the Harrisburg Hilton for two days of speakers, workshops and parties. The highlight on Friday was a speech by Cecile Richards of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. She brought down the house by reminding the audience that although the Koch Brothers want to spend close to a billion dollars in the 2016 elections progressives can counter that with millions of people.
The Koch Brothers were also the object of a speech Saturday morning by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. The Independent socialist empowered the full house in a talk about the dangers of income inequality, how we got into the mess and how the Koch Brothers want to make things far worse. Jim Dean of Democracy For America, based in Vermont, introduced the Senator.
Cecile Richards with Kate Michelman:
Michael Morrill, Executive Director of Keystone Progress, reminded the progressives that we have to be the conscience of the Commonwealth and hold our elected officials accountable for their corruption even when they are on our side (or so we thought). That comment only got sparse applause but I salute Mike’s courage in saying it. It was something, in light of the Rob McCord case, which needed to be said.
44 workshops filled much of Saturday and topics ranged the entire spectrum of progressive issues. Sen. Daylin Leach hosted a party Friday evening and Manan Trivedi hosted a karaoke party into the wee hours.
Mitt Romney tried to Etch A Sketch his stand on women’s issues then got corrected by his campaign (again). In an interview with the Des Moines Register Editorial Board yesterday he said this:
“There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.”
His running mate has co-sponsored 38 pieces of legislation regarding abortion. Romney himself has signed a pro life pledge and said he’d defund Planned Parenthood. The statement yesterday is a careful parsing of words. He could come back later and claim he wasn’t “familiar” with the bills pending in Congress. Either way Roe v Wade isn’t going to be overturned via legislation but by Supreme Court Justices.
Romney is losing the women vote badly and he is attempting to control that damage by hedging on the issue. Unfortunately his campaign immediately walked back this comment. They have a habit of coming tot he press constantly correcting its candidate’s gaffes. It makes me wonder who is really in charge: Mitt or his campaign staff. Who would really be in charge in the White House?
I’m reminded of the last businessman elected to the Oval Office who spent his first term flying around the country doing photo ops while his VP actually ran things. Grover Norquist said all Republicans need is a warm body in the Presidency to sign bills passed by its Tea Party wing in Congress. It appears that’s all they have in Romney.
tonight’s highlight is former President Bill Clinton. Other speakers to watch are Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood, Elizabeth Warren, Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware and Richard Trumka (6Pm hour). Members of the Congressional Black Caucus will also speak along with retiring Congressman Barney Frank. I’ve never seen a convention where openly gay speakers were prominent and almost every speaker refers to marriage equality.