"Social issues should not be the main focus over fiscal issues," says Head, nattily dressed for the convention in a seersucker suit and brown-and-white saddle shoes. "We have a debt problem, we have a health care problem whether you agree or disagree with what's coming, and those are things we should focus on."
He sums it up succinctly: "I'm very involved on the fiscal side, and I'm 'get off my lawn' on the social side."
It's a small-government attitude shared by many youthful conservatives, says Arizona State University professor Donald Critchlow, a historian of the conservative movement.
"There's a very, very strong libertarian voice among the young," he says. "They're very liberal -- if you want to use that term -- on social issues: gay rights, abortion, marijuana and war, those kinds of social issues that would put them on the left side of the spectrum. But they're coming from a libertarian perspective."
These are folks who backed Ron Paul for president, or ended up voting for Obama because they disliked the GOP's stand on social issues, he says.
Republicans like Deaton stay because they want to help the party resolve that tension.
"If you're going to be involved in something political, my goal has been to really be involved," he says. "It would be harder for me if I was a Republican and not doing something to change the Republican Party."
Red meat and prayers
The main activities this weekend include electing new officers, renewing contacts and planning for the future. But there are bits of the boisterousness seen every four years at the parties' presidential nominating conventions. The delegations tried to outdo one another in highlighting their state's accomplishments at roll call (Head brought a blow-up Stanley Cup to showcase his Chicago Blackhawks' victory in the NHL playoffs). Some delegations hosted parties and social gatherings.
There was also plenty of classic conservative red meat to be chewed. Of the handful of vendors' tables, one was sponsored by former Sen. Rick Santorum's organization, Patriot Voices. Another featured flyers from the libertarian Cato Institute for an e-book called "Replacing Obamacare." One man hawked copies of his book, "A Time to Kill: The Myth of Christian Pacifism."
Large meetings opened with prayers, some of them in Jesus' name, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. In speeches, there were invocations of Obamacare and the 2009 bailouts, pointed mentions of the IRS, the use of "Democrat" (instead of "Democratic") as an adjective, and proud defenses of states' rights and tax cuts.
For many, the convention was also an opportunity to talk about ways of moving the party forward after the losses of the 2012 election campaign.
The lack of diversity was obvious at the convention's general gatherings. The majority of the 300-plus attendees were men; just a handful were Hispanic or African-American.
The YR's outreach committee has been trying to find ways of expanding the tent. At a discussion, the group suggested appealing to minorities by stressing the GOP's economic message of entrepreneurship and fiscal responsibility.
Outgoing YR Chair Lisa Stickan, an attorney and former prosecutor from Cleveland, believes this is a winning strategy.
"I think there's this misconception that younger people are only looking at social issues," Stickan said. "You have a lot of people graduating college who are in serious debt and are having trouble finding a job, and if you asked them about social issues, they would say, 'I'm having trouble surviving here.'"
Stickan, 35, talks with the friendly demeanor and flattened vowels of her native Midwest. She's been active with the party since law school and identified with it before then. But hers is a Main Street, grass-roots Republicanism, focused on civic involvement and fiscal rectitude. She serves on the city council of Highland Heights, a Cleveland suburb.
"I enjoy that because it's not a partisan role," she says. "I'm there in the capacity of good-government services and working with the public."
Though it's important to mention the Obama administration's faults, she says, she believes the Republicans are ill-served by Washington mudslinging. She wants the party to "step in, in a positive manner," and listen to voters.
"I am from a swing state, so I talk to a lot of people who are in the middle, (but) that's not what they want to hear about," she says. "You have a serious situation where people cannot get food on the table, cannot bring a paycheck home. That's a problem."
'You're not alone'
Indeed, Stickan adds, the GOP has to keep up with the times. That means using Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to stay in touch with voters. The Democrats have been making good use of online media since at least the Howard Dean days; the Republicans are doing better but need to do more, she says.
"The social media, particularly for some low-information voters or younger voters, is important, just to keep up with the trends," Stickan says.
Angel Garcia, a Chicago attorney, shrewdly used the technology to help build his moribund local YR chapter from a handful of people to several hundred.
The first step, Garcia said, was getting noticed.