“I am predicting that the next president of the United States will be at our convention this weekend,” Joe Dugan, the founder and executive producer of the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention tells Breitbart News in an exclusive interview.
The three outsider candidates who lead in the polls—GOP front runner Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, and Dr. Ben Carson—will all be speaking at the event. Trump and Cruz are speaking on Saturday, Carson is speaking on Monday.
“Whom do we trust to lead this nation?” is the theme of the convention.
Notably absent will be any of the establishment candidates—Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush—as well as Sen. Rand Paul and former Hewlett Packard executive Carly Fiorina.
The fifth annual South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention, a three day event, will be held in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina beginning this Saturday just two days after the RNC sponsored GOP Presidential debate in Charleston, South Carolina carried on the Fox Business Network tonight.
Seven candidates—Trump, Cruz, Carson, Sen. Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and John Kasich— will appear at the main event of the competing RNC debate in Charleston this evening.
The “undercard” will include three of the four remaining candidates—former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Carly Fiorina. Sen. Rand Paul, who did not fare well enough in the polls to qualify to be on the main stage, has said he will not participate in the earlier “kiddie table” debate. Paul says he actually did meet the Charleston debate criteria.
“What a contrast our event in Myrtle Beach on Saturday will be to the RNC sponsored debate in Charleston on Thursday,” Dugan tells Breitbart News.
“All those debates are a negative message where the focus is food fights where the media pits one candidate against another. No one really learns what the candidates really stand for,” he adds.
“That’s where the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention differs. We offer these candidates an opportunity to get their unfiltered message out,” Dugan says. He points out that the weekend event allows each candidate time to really expand on their message.
“Each candidate has up to 5 minutes for an introduction, 20 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time and 15 minutes question and answer. The questions will be written questions based on policy clarifications, not personalities and gotcha questions. They will be asked by the master of ceremonies. On Saturday that will be Breitbart Executive Chairman Steve Bannon and on Sunday it will be Sirius XM’s David Webb,” Dugan says.
That extra candidate time translates into more real information for voters according to Dugan.
“What we need is a voting revolution where ordinary American hard working citizens come out and show their disdain for the paths our leaders are taking us down. To show their disdain for Washington lying to us,” Dugan says.
Tickets are still available for the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention at the event’s website here: www.southcarolinateapartycoalition.com.
The convention has become a significant event in South Carolina GOP Presidential Primary politics, and could play a key role in determining the outcome of the February 20 2016 GOP Pres primary, and potentially Iowa and New Hampshire as well.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee will be on the Saturday agenda along with Trump and Cruz. Former Sen. Rick Santorum and former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore will be on the Sunday agenda. Dr. Ben Carson has Monday all to himself among the Presidential contenders attending.
“None of the establishment candidates accepted our invitation. I have to interpret that as them being afraid to talk directly with conservatives in South Carolina,” Dugan adds.
It is also a missed opportunity. In each year of its existence, the event has attracted sellout crowds.
“Sen. Marco Rubio didn’t even respond. Sen. Rand Paul, I’ve been inviting for three years. He’s never accepted any of our invitations,” Dugan says.
“John Kasich, I wrote his SC state coordinator an invitation. I took the trouble of going to the Crown Reef hotel in Myrtle Beach where John Kasich was speaking to extend our invitation but his staff would not talk to me,” he adds.
“Chris Christie the other day finally sent me a letter saying he will not be able to attend. I reached out to the Jeb Bush campaign at least two times and I heard nothing back. They didn’t say they weren’t coming, they didn’t say they were coming. Carly Fiorina’s campaign manager called two days ago and cancelled saying there was a mixup in the schedule,” Dugan notes.
This is not a sign of respect from the establishment according to Dugan.
“My conclusion is these candidates who declined our invitation have given up on the conservatives in SC. They know it’s a losing cause for them to talk to the people, especially freedom-loving people in this state, ” Dugan tells Breitbart News.
Dugan believes the failure of establishment Presidential candidates to attend the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention reflects the general disdain the GOP establishment has for the every day grassroots voters.
“The Tea Party has become the every day American,” Dugan says.
Dugan has little respect for the establishment GOP candidates who ran for re-election to the Senate and House in 2014.
“They lied to us. They’re afraid we’re going to question them on the lies,” Dugan says.
“In 2014 they clearly ran as far to the right as they could. Then in December, they voted for Cromnibus, and proved what they said on the campaign trail were lies,” he adds.
“For those who are interested in the real truth, they can hear it at the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention,” Dugan concludes.
A number of speakers in addition to the six GOP Presidential candidates -Trump, Cruz, Carson, Santorum, Huckabee, and Gilmore–will be at the event.
AWR Hawkins, Breitbart’s gun rights expert, Breitbart contributing editor Peter Schweitzer, author of the best-selling Clinton Cash, and Breitbart Executive Chairman will be among those additional speakers.
Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and head of the Tea Party Patriots, Sen. David Perdue (RGA), Alabama Tea Party leader Becky Gerritson, now a Congressional candidate, and undercover video investigator James O’Keefe are among those also scheduled to speak.