National Harbor, MD - Let me give you the vibe that I’m getting from conservatives at CPAC. Not the kids. There are plenty of kids here, and they tend toward libertarian and they love Rand Paul. He will probably win the annual straw poll, although it’s not a certainty. He has a rival who has inspired lot of passion, whom I’ll get to in a minute.
Speaking with the adults here – the conservative journalists, analysts and various other seasoned activists and GOP veterans, the talk is about two people: Scott Walker and Jeb Bush. Attendees at the conference are already beginning to envision a primary race that has Walker running as the base’s favorite and Bush holding the banner of the moderates and the money, while trying to make inroads among conservatives.
Let me be clear here. I’m not telling you how the race is going to shape up or how I think it should shape up. It’s way early, and anything can happen. I’m just giving you the state of play, and the talk in the halls, at the most important meeting of conservatives in the country.
And frontrunners and favored candidates do win nominations. In the case of Republicans, they do it quite often.
That Bush held his own here shows his viability extends beyond his name and the money he is accumulating. And that Walker hit a home run here shows he is no mere flash in the pan.
Ted Cruz’s star isn’t shining brightly. I can’t tell you exactly why. At a meet and greet last night, Rand Paul spoke first and wowed the youngish crowd. When he finished, the announcer said Ted Cruz would be along any minute, and about a third to a half of the audience filtered out.
Nobody talks about Chris Christie. Floating around everywhere is Rick Perry, who is the governor of Texas, but you’d think he was the mayor of Shpinkleburg.
Carly Fiorina? Meh. She did well. But everyone thinks she’s really running for vice president. But I hear more talk of New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez as a potential distaff vice presidential choice.
Marco Rubio isn’t making any waves among anyone. Donald Trump? Superb comic relief. Bobby Jindal gave a wonky recitation Thursday and I haven’t heard his name mentioned since. Mike Huckabee isn’t here and doesn’t seem to be missed.
These things will change. But these things are not unimportant. Powerful interests, money, and advisors will get behind perceived winners. And while that hardly guarantees victory, it helps.
National Harbor, MD - He didn’t receive a wild reception, but nor was it merely polite. Answering a series of very direct questions from Sean Hannity before a packed house of conservatives at CPAC today, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush portrayed himself as a serious conservative while preventing his differences with his audience from inviting open hostility.
I think he would judge his appearance here a success.
Bush, whose views on Common Core and immigration are loathed by many conservatives, faced only minor, sporadic heckling as he sought to make nice with the right. He was frequently greeted with strong, if not quite wild, applause, and ended his question and answer session with a standing ovation.
Bush explained that his position was to “first and foremost, enforce the borders,” and he said that while he supported a “path to citizenship” for illegal immigrants, they must first achieve certain milestones – learning English, and so forth. He refused to back down on his efforts to give illegals driver’s licenses and in-state funding, and he wasn’t booed for it.
The thousands of immigrants who flooded into the United States last year “should have been sent home at the border,” Bush said.
Bush sought to mitigate his past support for Common Core, asserting the education standards should never be set by the federal government.
Calling himself a “practicing, reform-minded conservative,” he affirmed that he favors traditional marriage, has rolled back affirmative action in Florida, and opposes marijuana use – although the states should be permitted to decide the matter.
Tellingly, though, when asked for the five things he would do first as president, ending Obamacare was not among them.
I’ve grown so, stupendously sick of what has become a routinely emitted burst of inanity by the intellectually crippled, some of whom are our putative thought leaders: That if you mention two things together in a sentence, you think they are alike.
Thursday at CPAC, responding to a question about how he would handle ISIS, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, referring to his battle in Wisconsin against the unions, said:
I want a commander in chief who will do everything in their power to ensure that the threat from radical Islamic terrorists does not wash up on American soil. If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world.”If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world.
Oh, the outrage!
“If Scott Walker thinks that it’s appropriate to compare working people speaking up for their rights to brutal terrorists, then he is even less qualified to be president than I thought,” blared a flack for the DNC.
Others piled on too. Even conservatives.
Let’s all step out of the Stupid Room for a second.
First of all, does anyone in their right mind think that anyone else in their right mind believes that union workers are like ISIS terrorists?
Really? Scott Walker thinks union officials want to decapitate management?
Secondly, it is obvious to anyone whose head is still on their shoulders that Walker is comparing the act of standing up to one group to the act of standing up another. Not the groups. The action. The fortitude it takes to risk your political future, be resolute, be uncompromising when needed, and to ignore the weaklings around you who want to cave or make a bad deal.
This is exactly, after six years of purified presidential pusillanimity, what America needs.
And the comparison Walker made is actually extremely apt.
It became known after the collapse of the Soviet Union that the politburo took notice when Ronald Reagan stood up to the air traffic control union and fired 11,000 of them who illegally went on strike. The Russkies understood they were dealing with someone quite different than Reagan’s predecessor. It had a serious effect.
Walker’s actions in Wisconsin are directly relevant to how he will operate on a larger scale as president. And the Democrats know it.
Here’s the video of his appearance. It’s worth taking 20 minutes to watch it. Walker was eloquent, forceful and smart. He is not just the flavor of the month. He is clearly a serious contender for the presidency.
“Of course I didn’t do anything for those foreign donors as Secretary of State. In fact, I didn’t do anything as Secretary of State.
- Hillary Clinton
A note from our attorneys: This is not a real quote
10:00 am || Receives the Presidential Daily Briefing
11:05 am || Meets with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia
12:45 pm || Has lunch with My Brother’s Keeper mentees; Map Room
5:35 pm || Delivers remarks at the portrait unveiling ceremony for U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder; U.S. Department of Justice, Washington
All times Eastern
Live stream of White House briefing at 1:00 pm
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