ABC News’ Michael Falcone reports:
A group of conservative leaders who helped steer their movement away from a painful defeat in 2008 and toward an electoral comeback in 2010, plan to meet privately on Friday to map out their strategy for the next two years.
Led by Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, a conservative media watchdog group, and the nephew of the late conservative icon William F. Buckley, Jr., the gathering will include a who’s who of right-leaning activists.
Joining Bozell at his mountain retreat in Stanley, Va. will be Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, one of the most active conservative groups of 2010 election cycle; former Indiana Republican Rep. Dave McIntosh; Becky Norton Dunlop, vice president at the Heritage Foundation; Frank Gaffney, founder and president of the Center for Security Policy; Al Regnery, publisher of the American Spectator magazine; and Leonard Leo, executive vice president of The Federalist Society.
The group includes many of the same individuals who, in the words of one conservative activist, helped define President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as “far leftists” who were tipping the country “toward socialism” — an idea that energized the conservative base this year.
According to exit polls, conservatives made up roughly 41 percent of all voters on Election Day, their biggest electoral showing since Ronald Reagan’s re-election campaign in 1984.
Those numbers helped propel Senate candidates like Rand Paul in Kentucky and Marco Rubio in Florida over the finish line and gave Republicans the edge they needed to gain the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, win key governor’s races and seize control of state legislatures across the country.
“We spent the last two years educating and mobilizing the grassroots against a far-left agenda,” said the activist, who declined to be identified in order to discuss details of Friday’s meeting. “We did it around the Republican Party and then Republicans sort of came along for the ride and got on board.”
The source added, “Conservatives and the Tea Partiers nationalized this election as a referendum against big government.”
Many of the same individuals who will gather at Bozell’s home this week took part in a similar meeting after the 2008 election, not only to lick their wounds after Obama swept into the White House and Democrats scored big gains in Congress, but also to plot a course out of the political wilderness
After that session, Bozell declared “the moderate wing of the Republican Party is dead,” and his counterpart, Tony Perkins, warned that candidates for elected officials who are “squishy on conservative principles” would no longer be tolerated.
Friday’s discussion will focus on the issues that will continue to drive movement supporters, including an emphasis on limited, constitutional government. The group also plans to look ahead to the 2012 election cycle, identifying some of the rising-star candidates who have the best chance to defeat President Obama.
To pass muster among members of this group, the activist who outlined the meeting’s agenda, said potential 2012 candidates will have to be “full-throttle, across-the-board conservatives."