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Look who's headlining Las Vegas tea-party convention!

Lou Dobbs

He caused quite an uproar as a CNN anchor when he advocated for stronger U.S. border enforcement and when he refused to drop “birther” stories about challenges to President Obama’s constitutional eligibility to hold office.

Now he’s a headlining speaker at the second tea-party convention in July in Las Vegas, an event geared toward unifying the tea-party movement in the run-up to the fall congressional elections.

Lou Dobbs will rally tea partiers at the National Tea Party Unity Convention, July 15-17, at the Palazzo Las Vegas Resort in Nevada. The Tea Party Nation, along with ResistNet, Leadership Tea Party, the Tea Party Leadership Coalition and other groups, is organizing the event.

“Lou Dobbs is just an amazing guy,” Tea Party Nation President Judson Phillips told WND. “He stood up to the powers that be at CNN. He had a very high-rated show there, and he could have kept toeing the party line and doing what they wanted him to do. But he spoke up for America.”

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In 2009, Dobbs was voted to the top 10 list of the most important radio talk-show hosts in America by Talkers Magazine. He graduated from Harvard University with a degree in economics.

The award-winning journalist and best-selling author’s refusal to drop “birther” stories about challenges to Obama’s constitutional eligibility to hold office was a major source of contention with CNN management, leading the unconventional anchor to walk away from the network and more than $9 million in November, the New York Post reported.

The Post, citing anonymous sources, said the beginning of the end of a long-simmering dispute came in July last year, when CNN President Jonathan Klein told Dobbs’ staff in a memo to stop reporting on lawsuits that demand Obama produce evidence he’s a natural-born American citizen, as required by the Constitution.

Palazzo Las Vegas Resort

Dobbs said several times he believed Obama was a U.S. citizen, and all he wanted was the president to produce a copy of his birth certificate, but the network clamped down on the host nonetheless.

Dobbs, who also hosts a nationally syndicated radio show, told his radio audience in July that “even though I said I believe the president is a citizen of the United States, I don’t understand why he shouldn’t produce a birth certificate. My God, you’re talking about the third rail of American journalism, baby! That’s it. I’m not going to back off.”

In a November column, WND CEO and Editor Joseph Farah called Dobbs a “real newsman” whose departure from CNN after 30 years left the network “in a state of programming irrelevancy.”

“What makes Lou Dobbs so special,” Farah writes, “is his independence and fearlessness. Dobbs clearly set his own agenda. He had no interest in the ‘conventional wisdom’ of his industry. Dobbs thinks like a real American newsman – a throwback to an age when journalists actually believed they were watchdogs of government and asked tough questions in the interests of the people.”

The New York Post also noted that CNN had long been asking Dobbs to “tone down his harsh rhetoric” on issues such as immigration. For years, in his “Broken Borders” segment, Dobbs warned of the dangers of illegal immigration. Several campaigns were launched to convince CNN to “dump Dobbs.”

As WND reported, Dobbs told his radio audience Oct. 26 a gunshot was fired into his home after a series of threatening phone calls.

Dobbs said advocacy groups that support illegal immigration pressed for him to be fired and had been “unrelenting in their propaganda.”

Outspoken opponents of Dobbs include the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League, the National Council of La Raza, Internet media watchdog Media Matters and Geraldo Rivera of Fox News.

In a move that surprised his critics and supporters in November, Dobbs told Spanish language network Telemundo that he supports a path to U.S. citizenship for illegal aliens.

“We need the ability to legalize illegal immigrants on certain conditions,” he said.

“What isn’t working is a penalty to those who are in this country illegally for whom we can both be building a bridge to the future in which there is legalization and at the same time constructing an environment in which everyone is clear and unequivocal about the need for border security and a regulated flow of immigration,” Dobbs told Telemundo.

Dobbs’ spokesman Bob Dilenschneider told the Wall Street Journal the former broadcaster draws a distinction between illegal aliens who have committed crimes since arriving in the U.S. and those who are “living upright, positive and constructive lives” who should be “integrated” into society. He said Dobbs recognizes the political importance of Hispanics and is “smoothing the water and clearing the air.”

In his May 10 appearance on “The O’Reilly Factor,” Dobbs shared his thoughts on the new Arizona law.

“The last I looked, they hadn’t suspended the 10th Amendment of the Constitution,” he told host Bill O’Reilly. “Arizona has every right to be taking these steps, particularly where this government is quite consciously, this administration quite consciously is refusing to enforce immigration law either internally or at the border.”

Phillips said many people in the tea-party movement appreciate Dobbs because he speaks his mind and is not beholden to either major party.

“He’s not going to toe the line for the sake of toeing the line,” he said. That’s why he’s such a fantastic guy and why he’s so attractive to the movement.”

While Dobbs is known for expressing his opinion on a variety of controversial subjects, Phillips said Dobbs and other convention speakers plan to emphasize unification of the tea-party movement in their speeches.

“If we’re going to win this fall, we have to be united,” he said. “If we split up, we’ll end up with two more years of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid axis of fiscal evil.”

Joseph Farah

As WND reported, Joseph Farah, editor and chief executive officer of WND, will be a featured speaker at the Las Vegas convention as well.

“I have known Joseph for some time and have always enjoyed our repartee,” Phillips said. “[H]is message of unity within the tea-party movement will be well-received. I am grateful that he has chosen to participate in this convention.”

Other speakers include Neal Boortz, nationally syndicated talk show host; Andrew Breitbart, publisher of Breitbart.com; Anna Puig, co-chair of the Kitchen Table Patriots; David DeGerolamo, founder of NC Freedom; Erika Franzi, chairwoman of the Asheville Tea PAC; and Dr. Leland Baker, author of “Tea Party Revival: The Conscience of a Conservative Reborn: The Tea Party Revolt Against Unconstrained Spending and Growth of the Federal Government.” The Tea Party Express is also making plans to attend.

Along with speakers and training sessions on fundraising and organizing, the unity event will feature the first Tea Party Nation Conservative Film Festival to showcase and honor conservative filmmakers and their films. The convention is calling for filmmakers to submit feature films, short films and music videos with a conservative message and/or emphasis on traditional American values. Entries must be submitted by June 11.

Additionally, Phillips announced a tea-party presidential straw poll will be conducted to gauge interest and establish a “tea-party presidential candidate” for the 2012 election. The first-ever tea-party straw poll will allow delegates and Pay-Per-View participants to vote on their preferred presidential candidate. The straw poll ballot will be published June 15, just 30 days prior to the start of the convention. The winner will be announced July 17 following a vote that morning.

“When we decided to do this convention, I felt it was important to provide a dramatic and practical way in which the delegates could make their voices heard,” Phillips said. “The tea-party presidential ‘straw poll’ was the idea that could energize the movement and the convention. …The straw poll will begin to establish those candidates who would be received favorably by the tea-party movement and its core values. This will be a watershed moment in politics this summer.”