DALLAS — It had all the buzz and excitement of a political convention, except that the next presidential election is still a few years away.

That didn’t matter for many of those who attended opening festivities of the For God & Country Patriot Roundup conference at the city-owned Omni Dallas Hotel. They didn’t care that the nation had elected Joe Biden as president in November.

They said they came to the weekend event because they want to learn more about how to steer the country back to traditional conservative values steeped in religion, law and order — and yes, Donald Trump. Many attendees also said they want to learn more about corruption in Washington, D.C., that they insist is being ignored by traditional news outlets.

They drank and ate and schmoozed at Bob’s Steak and Chop House inside the hotel with retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who held court at a large table in the bar area and posed for selfies with admirers.

Flynn was Trump’s former national security adviser before he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his role in the Russia scandal. Trump absolved him with a pardon.

On Friday, the first day of the three-day conference, Flynn was a star, a person to be seen and photographed with. A grim-faced conference organizer shot down a request for an interview. Flynn “definitely” didn’t want to talk to a newspaper reporter, the man said.

Brenda Bintz, 67, a retired nurse from New Jersey, grabbed a smoke outside before the VIP meet-and-greet reception kicked off.

“Our country needs to turn around,” she said. “We’ve turned our back on God.”

Bintz, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, said she wants to learn new ideas for how to help get the nation back on track. She hoped her first visit to Dallas would prove fruitful and informative.

Like some others at the conference, Bintz said she didn’t pay a lot of money and travel a long distance to spend her Memorial Day weekend hearing about QAnon, a conspiracy theory about Satan-worshipping pedophiles.

She did, however, look forward to hearing Flynn speak. She also was eager to hear from Sidney Powell, the former Flynn and Trump lawyer who mounted numerous failed legal challenges to the election results.

“All I know is that I’m a patriot,” Bintz said.

Both Flynn and Powell have maintained that the presidential election was stolen from Trump and have brought attention to QAnon.

According to the event’s website, a portion of proceeds from the convention will go to Defending the Republic, a political nonprofit that Powell founded while fighting the election results.

The event will feature speakers, entertainment and interactions with high-profile conservative politicians who promoted the Q theory and worked to overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election. A group called The Patriot Voice, which organized the conference, referred to it as its “inaugural kick-off event” on its website.

“For three days, you will have the opportunity to hear from some of your favorite Patriots and Digital Soldiers in both keynote speeches and panel forums,” the website says. “You will also have the opportunity to meet and interact with these people, as well as meet fellow Patriots from around the country and world.”

Calvin Tomicich and his wife, Carol, drove from a small town in Washington State to Dallas to attend the political-themed conference, the first such event for both of them. Tomicich, 72, a retired Seattle firefighter and Vietnam War veteran, said he was a Democrat for many years and voted for former President Bill Clinton. But Trump, he said, is the best president he’s seen in his lifetime.

“We’re American patriots, and we want to find out what’s going on with our country,” he said. “We’re in precarious times right now. … We want to get this country back to normal.”

Tomicich said the last presidential election remains clouded in corruption and dishonesty in his mind. The mainstream media, he said, is not going to illuminate what went wrong.

“I want to know what’s being done about it,” he said. “That’s why we’re here. You have to go looking. Search for it yourself.”

Tomicich said he doesn’t have any theories about who is behind QAnon but that he thinks it’s a person or persons behind the scenes who possesses knowledge about what’s really going on.

“Maybe we’ll find out some day,” he said.

Podcaster Steven Lundgren of Alaska is not only a conference attendee. He is handling audio and visuals for the event, including live interviews and other media activities.

Lundgren, 55, and his wife, Marcy, chatted up Flynn in the restaurant before joining a long line for the opening reception. He said the conference has been unfairly labeled as purely a QAnon event. It’s actually about patriotism, preserving freedoms, faith and returning to a “normal life,” he said.

“The focus isn’t Q. The focus is being a patriot,” he said.


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