After a five-year hiatus, the Bakersfield Business Conference is back, this time featuring a lineup of Republican heavyweights that includes Sarah Palin, former Vice President Dick Cheney and Karl Rove.
As in past years -- when it was held annually -- the conference will feel more political than business. In fact, three potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates are on the bill: Palin, the former Alaska governor, as well as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
"With very little advertising beyond our local community and past attendees, we've received a phenomenal response to our speaker lineup," said event spokesman Brandon Martin. He added that the event is a "mix of sincere patriotism, platform wisdom, and feel-good entertainment."
It also has a strong Republican feel, though Martin said that isn't intentional. "We don't see it as a Republican event," he said. "It's just the way it broke down this year."
He said Donna Brazile, a Democratic consultant and political pundit who managed Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign, is coming, as is political consultant Bob Beckel, who ran Walter Mondale's unsuccessful 1984 presidential bid against Ronald Reagan.
"We selected these people because they are great speakers," Martin said. Neither, however, is on the main stage, which is reserved for the heavyweights such as Palin, who was the event's main draw. Martin said as of late, however, the appearance of the outspoken Cheney also has drawn a lot of interest.
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