Posts Tagged CPAC
For the third consecutive year, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul grabbed a victory in the Conservative Political Action Committee’s presidential straw poll. Paul won 25.7 percent of the 3,007 votes cast, down slightly from 2014, when 2,459 total attendees gave him 31 percent of the vote. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who placed fifth in 2014’s poll, floated to a strong second place– 21.4 percent–continuing a run of successes with conservative activists that started last month at the Iowa Freedom Summit.
The days of potential presidential candidates barreling into CPAC with full campaigns, buying up blocks of tickets for straw-poll voters, are largely past. Paul, Walker, Ben Carson, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz all had street teams of various sizes; Paul was supported by Young Americans for Liberty, Carson by an unofficial draft presidential campaign. But Santorum, Walker, and Paul focused more on barnstorming events in the conference hotel than on making an obvious show of support on the convention floor.
“The constitutional conservatives of our party have spoken in a loud and clear voice today,” Paul said in a statement. ” I plan on doing my part and I hope you will join me as I continue to make the GOP a bigger, better and bolder party.”
Walker’s second-place showing at 21.4 percent represented a significant show of support among conservatives and suggested his potential candidacy will have real staying power as he seeks to remain among the front-runners for the nomination.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz came in third with 11.5 percent of a total of 3,007 who registered votes at the CPAC gathering.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, an establishment candidate who is amassing millions of dollars for a campaign should he decide to run, took fifth place with 8.3 percent of the vote, a not-unexpected showing given conservative opposition to some of his moderate stances.
Boos rang out in the audience when Bush’s tally was announced. The Bush camp made clear that he did not compete in the straw poll, which is a survey of people attending the conference.
The straw poll concluded the four-day conference at a hotel along the Potomac River, where conservatives heard from more than a dozen potential contenders for the chance to represent the Republican Party in the November 2016 election.
Walker, 47, was clearly among the most popular at the event.
But Paul had a strong showing from activists, and his victory in the straw poll marked the third year in a row in which he came out on top, dominating the event just as his father, former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, had.
The CPAC straw poll, however, does not necessarily identify the next Republican presidential nominee. Mitt Romney won the straw poll in 2012 and went on to win the nomination. But the 2008 nominee, John McCain did not win the poll.
The poll also asked respondents about other issues, with 41 percent saying they would like to legalize marijuana.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush asked skeptical conservatives to consider him a “second choice” on Friday but refused to back down from policy positions that have led many right-leaning activists to view his potential presidential candidacy with suspicion.
“I’m a practicing, reform-minded conservative,” the 62-year-old former Florida governor told the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland near Washington.
Many attending the annual gathering of grassroots activists made clear they prefer a potential Bush rival, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, among others.
Bush was heckled and booed, but the antipathy was balanced out by enthusiastic supporters who showed up shortly before he spoke and clapped heartily and aggressively.
While some audience members walked out of the packed auditorium as he began talking, there was no mass walkout and he was well-received overall.
Bush, the son of former President George H.W. Bush and brother of former President George W. Bush, has emerged as the favorite of the Republican Party’s establishment wing. He has been on a fund-raising binge that has raised millions of dollars for a potential 2016 presidential campaign.
But the party’s conservative base has been alarmed at Bush’s support for a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants and for an education policy known as Common Core.
Referring to skeptics in the audience, he said, “I’m marking them down as neutral and I want to be your second choice if I go beyond this.”
A Bush critic, conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham, reflected some of the right’s concern about Bush in an early morning talk at CPAC. She said she saw little difference between him and the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton.
“Why don’t we just call it quits, and Jeb and Hillary can run on the same ticket,” she said. “I’m designing the bumper sticker. It could be ‘Clush.’ What difference does it make?”
Facing a crowd angered by Democratic President Barack Obama’s executive order relaxing immigration policy, Bush stuck to his position that Americans should be more accepting of immigrants and be willing to provide legal status for those already here.
He said it would help expand the U.S. economic base, and help his party extend its reach.
“We will be able to get (the) Latinos and young people that you need to win,” he said.
On Common Core, Bush said the policy was one element of a broader education reform effort that included conservative priorities like charter schools, vouchers and an end to affirmative action.
Asked about gay marriage, Bush said he supported “traditional” marriage, meaning between a man and a woman, without the caveats expressed by others that it should be a matter for the states.
He said he opposed marijuana legalization but said it should be up to states to decide.
His riff on states’ rights and the need for a drastically curbed federal government got the activists in the audience of about 1,000 on their feet.
“Nowhere does the Constitution … give federal officials primary responsibility over the air we breathe, the land we farm or the water we drink,” Perry said. “And nowhere does it say Congress has the right to federalize health care!”
It was the most energetic audience response for any speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference, topping even the rapturous applause Sen. Ted Cruz received a day earlier.
“The vision that wins out, either this big-government, protectionist nanny state version offered by liberal leaders or the limited-government, unsubsidized, freedom state offered by conservative leaders, will determine the future of our nation,” Perry said.
Like pretty much every CPAC speaker, he lamented assorted misdeeds and poor judgment from President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats, and called for “the right kind of leaders.”
“How can the greatest nation on earth continue to spend its way to astounding debt without the bill ever coming due?” Perry said. “How can we appease a Syrian tyrant and embolden his Russian ally, without the bill ever coming due?”
As he often does, the governor played evangelist for the wisdom of GOP governors, in contrast to the party’s congressional wing, the power base for many other 2016 contenders, including Cruz and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
He cited the accomplishments of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and governors in Wisconsin, South Carolina and Florida. By contrast, he said, Democratic-run California and New York have struggled.
“They’re implementing the tired old recipe of back-breaking taxes and regulations that are larger than a 30-ounce Big Gulp,” he said.
And he didn’t hold back on boasting about Texas, where his 14-year tenure as governor ends in 10 months.
“We have created almost 30 percent of the nation’s jobs while keeping taxes among the nation’s lowest. We have presided over not only an energy boom but the nation’s largest population boom and an economic boom of monumental proportions,” Perry said. “We have demonstrated that no state can tax and spend its way to prosperity but with the right policies you can grow your way there.”
Sen. John Cornyn, the deputy GOP leader in the chamber, spoke next, confessing that “Governor Perry’s kind of a tough act to follow.”
Fresh from his victory in Tuesday’s primary, Cornyn alluded to pushback he’s gotten from the tea party wing, well-represented at CPAC, while focusing mainly on Obama.
“Together, let’s support conservative candidates. Let’s win and let’s bring accountability back to Washington,” he said, after lamenting what he called a lack of accountability on the Benghazi attack, the IRS scandal, and the “Fast and Furious” gun-walking episode.
The Republican Party is ready to win the midterm elections this November — but more importantly, ready to lead, a number of congressional Republicans said Thursday at a conservative gathering just outside of Washington.
“I think there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic,” Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said at the Conservative Political Action Conference, acknowledging that his 2012 campaign as Mitt Romney’s running mate didn’t go quite as planned. “I think the left is exhausted, our side is energized. On Election Day, we’re going to win.”
Republicans in Congress managed to drain a large amount of their political capital late last year as they split over whether it was worth shutting the government down over the federal budget. Meanwhile, some high-profile Republicans — including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., — are facing energetic opposition from tea party conservatives.
Ryan, however, said the intra-party tussling amounts to a “vibrant debate.”
“Sure we have our disagreements, and yes they can get a little passionate,” Ryan told an audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference. “I like to think of it as creative tension.”
Ryan said Republicans would prevail in November because Democrats are “out of ideas,” proven by the fact that after five years in power “all they have to show for it is this lousy website,” alluding to HealthCare.gov.
“For the president and his allies, this campaign will not be a sprint or marathon, it’s going to be a 50 yard dash,” Ryan said.
Given the struggles with the Obamacare rollout and polls showing the public has lost confidence in President Obama, conventional wisdom suggests Republicans should “sit on our hands, keep our heads down,” noted Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, a tea party favorite. “Let President Obama’s failures preserve a Republican majority in the House and win one in the Senate.”
That sentiment, Lee said, is “dead wrong.”
“We’ve not yet won back the trust of the American people or explained exactly why they should give it to us,” he said. “2014 must be the year we change that.”
Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., similarly said, “Our ideas are better than [Democrats’] ideas, and that’s what we have to stand up for.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who like Lee was one of the tea partiers elected in the 2010 midterms, listed a series of ideas Republicans should get behind.
We need to abolish the IRS, we need to adopt a simple flat tax, where every American can fill out his taxes on a postcard,” he said. He also called for the repeal of the Dodd-Frank Act, a balanced budget amendment, and a law to audit the Federal Reserve.
Cruz also stressed the need to reduce alleged government corruption — suggesting, for instance, there should be a lifetime lobbying ban for former members of Congress. “We need to tell the truth, the truth is that Washington is corrupt,” he said. “More and more people are making great wealth in Washington, Wall Street prospers and Main Street suffers.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla, meanwhile, stressed the importance of keeping America dominant on the world stage.
“There is only one nation on Earth capable of rallying and bringing together the fee people on this planet to stand up to the spread of totalitarians. The United Nation cannot do this — in fact, they cannot do anything,” Rubio said to applause.
Rubio described the possible world that could emerge, should the United States fail to lead — one “where North Korea can blow up California or the west coast of the United States with a nuclear weapon” or China controls the South China Sea.
“Without American engagement,” he said, that world is “not just a possibility, it is a real probability.”
The senator added, “That doesn’t mean we’re going to be in 15 wars… It also doesn’t mean we can solve every conflict.” However, he said, “We cannot ignore the reality of who we are.”
Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin gave a rousing speech to the Republican base at the Conservative Poilitical Action Conference on Saturday, telling conservatives to “stand united” around the eventual Republican presidential nominee to defeat President Obama.
“We must stand as conservatives,” Palin said to a rousing standing ovation. “For the sake of our party, we must stand united with whoever our nominee is.”
Palin steered clear of directly injecting herself into the Republican fight for the nomination, declining to endorse a candidate.
“In America we believe that competition strengthens us. Competition elevates our name,” Palin told the CPAC crowd. “Competition will lead us to victory in 2012. We must stay true to our principles. I believe that the competition has gotta keep going but let’s make sure this competition brings out the best in our party.”
The former vice presidential candidate did offer a veiled dig at Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney, however, who has been criticized by Newt Gingrich and others as having been a moderate as Massachusetts governor.
“Our candidate must be someone who must instinctively turn right,” she said. “It’s too late in the game to teach it.”
Palin spoke just moments after the announcement of results of the Washington Times/CPAC straw poll which Romney won with 38 percent support. Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum took 31 percent support, while Gingrich came in a distant third with 15 percent.
Palin’s speech was the culmination of three days of networking, organizing and rallying of conservative Republicans from around the country.
They keynote speaker sought to tear down President Obama, bolster the tea party and unify the base. She energized the already enthusiastic group of activists with her cheerleading, sharp critiques and charisma.
Palin’s ability to deliver a scathing critique of President Obama, which drew a raucous response from the CPAC crowd, makes her a valuable addition to the campaign trail for her party’s nominee. She brings a taunting quality to some of the GOP’s familiar themes, referring to Obama as a “community organizer apologizing for America,” and ridiculing Obama’s favorite slogans, “Hope and change, yeah, you got to hope things change.” While the crowd chanted U-S-A, Palin topped off her riff with “Keep your change—We’ll keep our God, our guns, our Constitution.”
Palin turned Obama’s emphasis on the wealth gap in America to her advantage, and that of her Tea Party allies. Drawing on a Washington Post investigation of how members of Congress in both parties come to Washington as men and women of modest means yet manage to get rich, she said they “spread the wealth around” to their family and friends. Dubbing this “Obama’s Washington,” Palin noted that 7 of the 10 wealthiest counties in the country surround Washington D.C. “This is the government rich,” she proclaimed. “They come to D.C., denouncing the place; after a year or two, it’s not a cesspool, it’s more like a hot tub. … It’s time we drain the Jacuzzi and throw the bums out with the bath water.”
Protestors attempted to disrupt Palin during her remarks, but the audience quickly responded with chants of “U.S.A.” As the protestors were being escorted out, Palin quipped, “See, you just won.”
Palin easily accomplished what she was brought there to do: energize the Republican Party.
Palin “fires up the base,” said Al Cardenas, Chairman of the American Conservative Union, the host of CPAC. “She’s an exciting speaker.”
Conference attendees had been eagerly anticipating her speech: The Marriott ballroom was packed tight for the speech, and a line the length of a football field stretched out the door.
“This time next year we will have a true conservative in the Oval Office,” Palin told the conference — garnering one of her many standing ovations.