The Red State Gathering, which is normally a celebration of all things conservative, held their annual event last weekend in Atlanta and featured nine of the 17 candidates vying for the Republican nomination. The count was 10 until Red State editor-in-chief Erick Erickson disinvited Donald Trump for remarks he made about Fox News’ Megyn Kelly on CNN.
While the withdrawal of the Trump invitation created some controversy at Red State and became national news, another lesser controversy was bubbling just under the surface.
That controversy started Thursday night when Erickson admitted that he didn’t invite Republican contender Ben Carson despite poll numbers that were higher than all but three of the invited candidates.
Erickson has now addressed the snub and admits that he blew it:
And I was wrong. I see now that what I’d interpreted from his speeches I had seen was more a new candidate finding his footing than a shallow salesman taking advantage of people. He needed help getting in the game and he clearly found it. I am glad to be wrong about him.
Thursday night on that debate stage in Cleveland I realized my impressions of Carson were off. He was and is a legitimate contender. His closing at the debate was one of the best closings I’ve seen in a debate. He did not have the depth as some of the others on the issues, but showed he has been spending his time learning.
Above all, he was humorous, respectful, and showed a real good nature. And I know, based on all the incoming polling, that I was not the only one to take a second look at Ben Carson. It seems a great many people realized Ben Carson is a legitimate candidate for President.
While Erickson’s mea culpa is welcome news, it doesn’t make up for the fact that, as successful as the Red State Gathering has become under his stewardship, he has exerted dictatorial-type control over the agenda in which his word is the last word.
It will be interesting to see what changes will be made at future Gatherings now that Erickson will no longer be a part of them.