I was sitting in the Atlanta airport reflecting on this year’s CPAC, and I realized I was slightly disappointed. While it was still a great conference and boasted a record crowd, it lacked some of its usual energy for me. Maybe it was due to all the controversy surrounding the event, maybe it was just the overall dissatisfaction with the current crop of presidential candidates (57% of attendees were not satisfied with the current field and wanted stronger candidates--CPAC Straw Poll), or maybe it was the mediocre speaker line up, but I didn’t sense the enthusiasm of years past.
Several would-be presidential candidates showed up at CPAC, but only a couple wowed the crowd. Mitt Romney’s speech was typical, and he largely skipped over the health care issue. The response was tepid. Only three quarters of the ballroom was full (it had previously been standing room only), and most CPAC-goers didn’t have much to say about it. Tim Pawlenty’s speech was mostly red meat, and was short on specifics. John Thune was okay, but certainly not a standout. Gary Johnson did a good job, but his position on the legalization of marijuana keeps a lot of people from supporting him. Ron Paul got the best reception, but that was largely due to the abundance of Paulies in attendance.
The only two who really stood out were Haley Barbour and Mitch Daniels. Daniels spoke at the Reagan Banquet on Friday night, and according to those in attendance, he hit a home run. I watched the video of his speech on the CPAC website, and I agree that he did an excellent job. I even heard some Paul supporters would be willing to get behind Daniels should Dr. Paul not run. Haley Barbour was the topic of a lot of conversation re: 2012, and he delivered a solid performance. Hitting on topics like spending, energy and health care, Barbour sounded like a presidential candidate. He hasn’t announced his intentions, but it sounded like a stump speech to me. I heard he was mobbed all the way to the door.
I was surprised at the number of high profile conservatives that skipped the conference this year. I know some of them refused to participate because of GOProud, but other regulars like Mike Pence didn’t really offer a reason (at least not that I heard). Sarah Palin claimed it was a scheduling problem for the second year in a row. I find that interesting because if I were gearing up to run for president, I think I would make time for the largest gathering of conservative activists in the world. I also think it is worth noting her lackluster performance in the straw poll coming in 9th with 3% of the vote.
The CPAC Straw Poll didn’t contain many surprises this year. Ron Paul won as predicted helped along by his organization, Campaign 4 Liberty, selling discounted tickets to their members. Whatever you think about the Paulies, you have to give them credit for showing up in droves and being very well organized. Romney was the only other candidate with an organized effort and came in second. Gary Johnson and Chris Christie tied for third, followed by Newt, Pawlenty, Bachmann and Daniels.
You can find videos of all the speeches here.
This past month, liberal feminists made more hay made over Palin's "mama grizzlies" talk than the matter of the Food and Drug Administration jerking Avastin off the market. Avastin is a drug used to treat late-stage breast cancer and has been shown to extend the life of some breast cancer patients by five months, but was deemed "cost-prohibitive" by the government.Emily's List cared enough about women to make a video criticizing Palin, but apparently not enough about breast cancer patients to make a video criticizing the FDA's move.Liberal feminists made more hay about Palin's chest than I saw them make over the nine women who were recently stoned to death in the Middle East. Those same liberal feminists were also silent when Alle Bautsch was beaten in the street for being a conservative woman.Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columns/Sarah-Palin-and-the-rise-of-the-Feminist-Right-534655-101265274.html#ixzz0xUXK2FC9
My favorite part of the interview:
Now there are a few people in public life who have ever been as demonized as you were during the Bush years. The left side of the blogosphere essentially looked at you the way some Christians view the devil. If anything they thought was bad for them happened, they blamed Karl Rove. Was any of this craziness getting back to you while you were in office and if so, what did you think? No, not really. I mean first of all, I had a job to do and in Washington, you can do your job or defend yourself. You can't necessarily do both -- particularly when you're a staff aide to the President. I knew part of it was to try and get me off my game and I wasn't going to let that happen. Besides, I worked with a lot of wonderful people who were very supportive -- and, I had a boss, an ultimate boss, the President of the United States, who said, you know, "better you than me" and really got me to laugh about it. It got to my family far more than it got to me. It's always harder to hear and see ugly things said about your kin than it is about yourself.
I have been asked why Sarah Palin skipped CPAC more times than I can count now. The answer is...I don't know. She clearly doesn't have good advisors around her. Between the notes on her hand, her lackluster showing at the Tea Party Convention and her failure to show up at CPAC, Palin has had an awful lot of problems lately. She needs to ensure that she has competent people surrounding her if she wants to continue to be a player in national politics.
If there are over 10,000 of the most dedicated grassroots activists for the conservative cause in one place, why would you miss it? That's a rhetorical question. You wouldn't miss it. CPAC was lit up with the energy not of old establishment types but the young, the restless and the politically active. You know those people who knock on doors and persuade? Yeah, that's who was at CPAC. Read more