CPAC Archives

March 1, 2007

Live On Blogger's Row

I've managed to make it to CPAC's Blogger Row, sponsored by Townhall, and it's looking pretty sweet. We're at one end of the exhibition hall, and we get a great view of the people passing through the hall. CPAC has set us up with a closed-circuit television for watching some of the events down here, rather than hiking up to the conference rooms. I've met the blogger behind See Jane Mom, a delightful Southern mom with a great sense of humor. Robert Bluey, who's blogging at Heritage, just arrived, and we have a few others starting to trickle into the area. I've alreay heard that Mitt Romney will be meeting with us later this morning for a chat. I'm hoping to post a few pictures later, but at the moment, the camera won't transfer pictures to the computer. I'm going to work on that, and start making plans on which...

Jim DeMint Visits Blogger Row

Senator Jim DeMint stopped by Blogger Row, in part to speak to his support for Mitt Romney for the GOP nomination. DeMint spoke for just a few minutes, but made the case that the federal government needs a strong CEO to straighten out the chaos and confusion of the bureaucracy. He likes what Mitt did in Massachussetts to find creative solutions that can gather bipartisan support, and feels that talent would be put to good use in the White House. He covered a few other issues as well. I asked him to comment on the administration's apparent reversal on negotiating with Iran and Syria on Iraq's security. He responded that he had not heard of any reversal, but that he didn't see a problem in attending a conference which included both nations and still excluded direct negotiation with Iran. After all, he said, we deal with a lot of bad...

CPAC, The Silly Season

So far, we've spent most of our morning getting to know one another and prepping for some of the more anticipated events scheduled for later. I've been sitting between Jane and Mary Katherine Ham while I've prepped for my interview with Mike Huckabee, which means I'm having way too much fun. However, we're not the only ones getting silly. So far, we've seen someone in a dolphin costume handing out anti-Mitt literature, someone else handing out Mitt flip-flops, and a line of men about a mile deep to see Michelle Malkin. I'm hoping to get pictures of the lighter moments, and I'll post them back here when I do....

CPAC Interview: Bill Simon, Rudy, & The Judges

Bill Simon paid a visit to Blogger's Row here at CPAC in his new role as missionary for the Rudy Giuliani campaign. Simon once ran for governor in California, losing to Gray Davis, which helped set the stage for the historic case of buyer's remorse that resulted in Davis' recall and the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger. He struck me as a warm and friendly person who has focused on his new mission to win the nomination for Giuliani. I had not been aware of his professional connection between Simon and Giuliani, but the two worked together in the US Attorney's office in New York 22 years ago. I asked him what he learned about Rudy in the time the two worked together, and he said that he found teamwork, leadership, and accountability. Simon found Rudy to be a loyal but tough leader in the civil and criminal casework that his...

CPAC Live Blog: Dick Cheney

I'm at CPAC's final event of the night to watch Dick Cheney address the CPAC conference. 7:45 PM ET - Thanking the people who introduced him. He also acknowledged the people he met on his last trip, mentioning Bagram specifically, and encouraging all of us to remember and honor them. The conference's chair has a daughter who just finished a tour in Iraq. 7:47 - "I'm probably the last non-candidate you'll see this weekend." Good laugh. Too bad John McCain didn't say it. 7:51 - Reviewing the economy in the context of what has happened in the last six years. GDP has risen over 16%, an amount equal or greater than the entire economy of Canada. This shows the fallacy of economics as a zero-sum game. This has come from the tax breaks that allowed the economy to thrive. 7:53 - Revenues have risen by $520 billion in the last...

March 2, 2007

Profiles In Political Courage?

It's not often I disagree with my friend John Podhoretz at The Corner, but today's post on John McCain and CPAC struck me as rather odd. In response to a post by Kathryn Jean Lopez that scolded McCain for skipping both NRI and CPAC, John said that McCain was right to stay away: If I were a McCain adviser, there's no way I would recommend he attend CPAC. The stakes are simply too high. It's a total sandbagging opportunity for people who want to derail him. The last thing he needs is a headline like "Conservatives boo McCain," and you know people attending CPAC know it and would love nothing more than to provide that headline. Anything less than a performance that wowed his enemies on the Right would only do him injury. I understand John's analysis, but all this does is confirm that McCain has no business running for...

CPAC - Blogger's Row Visits

Normally, I'd be posting about visits here on Bloggers' Row as they occur, but they have been so overwhelming that it's been almost impossible to get the opportunity to actually write blogs. So far today, we've spoken with Newt Gingrich and Duncan Hunter, as well as news reporters from various networks. Newt came through first, and he drew quite a crowd -- the biggest entourage outside of Michelle Malkin. He spent about 20 minutes speaking with us on the same issues we covered in my earlier interview on CQ Radio. He looks very relaxed and confident, and with the number of people insisting on having their picture taken with him, it's not hard to understand why. When he announces late in the year, the other candidates had better be prepared for a bleed-away of a portion of their support. Duncan Hunter, who has already announced the official opening stages of...

CPAC: Giuliani Speaks

Rudy Giuliani is speaking now at the CPAC conference, and he is drawing huge crowds -- not only in the Regency Ballroom where he is appearing, but also around every monitor in the exhibition hall. He's keeping the CPAC attendees riveted, and the place is otherwise as quiet as I've seen it since my early morning arrival. George Will introduced him to the CPAC audience by noting that only three Presidents have served as mayors previous to their national election: Andrew Johnson, Grover Cleveland, and Calvin Coolidge, the latter being the last President with whom Will completely agreed. Will noted that the mayoralty of New York City carries specific challenges, calling it "liberalism's laboratory" and a center for "learned dependency". He spoke about Giuliani's conservative instincts -- such as when he declared fatherhood the best social program, or raising taxes a "dumb, stupid, idiotic, and moronic idea". Will assured the...

CPAC: Sam Brownback

Sam Brownback is just coming to the stage now, after we have just fixed our connectivity issues. Serendipity or coincidence? You make the call. I'll live-blog it either way ... 2:01 - Brownback pays homage to Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater. Reagan spoke at CPAC on twelve occasions, and he will get a lot of references today. 2:02 - Now he's honoring people like Phyllis Schlafly, who are appearing at this year's CPAC. 2:03 - "I'm taking the yellow brick road to the White House." Er, that's kind of strange, isn't it? Yes, I know he's from Kansas ... 2:04 - First topic is the war on terror, which he says is a misnomer. He says we have to name our enemies -- the extremists who want to impose totalitarianism on the West. 2:06 - Kind of a strained transition to immigration and border enforcement. "A fence is not sufficient"...

Brownback, Part II

Sam Brownback paid a visit to Blogger Row after his speech in the hall. NZ Bear and I interviewed him, with his sizable Brownies trailing behind him. It's noisy, and NZ had to tell them to keep the cheering down at one point, but he sounded better in this interview than I think he did in his speech. Take a listen to the podcast for yourself. UPDATE: CPAC named NZ Bear its Blogger of the Year! A great decision about a great blogger....

CPAC: Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney is speaking now to the CPAC conference. I'm going to appear on Kevin McCullough's radio show in a few minutes and unable to watch all fo his remarks, thanks to a seriously delayed schedule for the speakers. He's talking about the necessity of conservatism, and how this country needs it more than ever. So far, it's an entertaining and engaging speech, and it's getting a similar reaction as Giuliani's in the hall. That's somewhat less surprising, since the Romney campaign has really pushed to get its activists all over the hall. If one had to guess the frontrunners in this race based on signage and stickers, Romney and Brownback would outstrip all others. Like Giuliani, he's talking about his application of conservative fiscal values in one of liberalism's laboratories. He just committed to holding non-defense discretionary spending to current levels after inflation, minus 1%. He says that will...

Romney Interview

Governor Mitt Romney just paid a visit to Blogger Row, and a number of the CPAC bloggers got a chance to interview him on the fly. I've podcasted our portion of the interview, and you'll hear NZ Bear and Philip Klein from The American Spectator on this segment. Mitt comes across very well in person -- warm, funny, informed, and engaging. You'll catch some of that in this podcast, I think. I wanted to ask him if he would insist on a repeal of McCain-Feingold -- he came out in opposition to it in his speech -- but he had to move on before I could get the question out. One more note ... the Brownback crowd shows a lot of enthusiasm for their candidate, and that's great. However, his followers tried drowning him out with Brownback cheers when he was talking to some of the bloggers. These campaigns need...

March 3, 2007

Coulter Said What? (Bumped)

Ann Coulter is speaking at the moment, and drawing a huge crowd -- with longer lines than those for the Rudy Giuliani. She's definitely one of the stars here at CPAC, and I listened to the audio stream for a bit while she opened her speech. I had to take a phone call, though, and I missed a critical, and infuriating, throw-away line. Michelle Malkin reports (from two chairs down): "I'd say something about John Edwards, but if you use the word 'faggot', you have to go to rehab." Yeah, that's just what CPAC needs -- an association with homophobia. Nice work, Ann. At some point, Republicans will need to get over their issues with homosexuality. Regardless of whether one believes it to be a choice or a hardwired response, it has little impact on anyone but the gay or lesbian person. We can argue that homosexuality doesn't require legal...

MSM Coverage Of CPAC

CQ readers have had plenty of moment-by-moment coverage of the Conservative Political Action Conference, but how has CPAC played to the national media? With the exception of the convergence of Republican presidential hopefuls, it has mostly flown under the national radar. The New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times mostly reported on the speeches from Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, and the absence of John McCain. The Gray Lady focuses almost entirely on the two GOP frontrunners, while using a picture of Sam Brownback: Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York are both Republican presidential candidates who have been voted into office by largely Democratic electorates. They both have a history of taking liberal positions on social issues. And both are viewed warily by conservative Republicans who are integral to the party’s presidential nominating process. Mr. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, and Mr....

CPAC On A Saturday Morning

We're just getting underway here, but the energy level seems to have dialed down. We're about to head into some of the headlining events this morning, but the exhibition hall has barely awoken: Blogger Row is pretty quiet, too. Some have already left, and the rest of us have spent most of the morning chatting over the events of yesterday. We're also working on strategies for the Victory Caucus and reviewing notes and photos for later posts. I've fixed my problems with my camera, so I will be posting more photos today and tomorrow from the entire conference. I'll have more later. I'm looking forward to Tim Pawlenty and Newt Gingrich, and I'm trying to see if we can get Pawlenty here for an interview. Keep checking for updates!...

CPAC, The Provocateur Watch

It remained rather quiet here until just a few moments ago, when Mike Stark showed up and tried to provoke an argument here on Bloggers Row. In case you didn't read about this on Hot Air, Stark showed up yesterday to get an autograph from Michelle Malkin and then started haranguing her about CPAC attendees not enlisting in the military. He videotaped the incident on his cell phone, and then Huffington Post for some reason gave him a forum to brag about his ohso-courageous intrusion on an event open to the public. He brought his weak-assed crap to me and started going into his schtick. I stopped him and told him to go back to Huffington Post. He looked taken aback to be greeted with nothing more than tired disgust, and said, "I thought we were peers." Uh, no, Mike, we're not peers. You're a provocateur and a self-involved assault...

Giuliani - What A Drag

The buzz here on the final day of CPAC doesn't have anything to do with policy, but with the dress code for Presidential candidates. Should they wear ties, or open-collar shirts with sport coats? Or, perhaps, a feather boa: Rudy Giuliani's liberal stance on abortion, guns and gays wasn't his biggest problem yesterday as he addressed a conference of conservative activists - it was his having dressed in drag. A whisper campaign targeting the front-running GOP White House contender's cross-dressing stunts at gala political dinners in New York and on "Saturday Night Live" was the hot topic among right-leaning activists. "A lot of people are talking about it. It's not respectable. They use it as a way to highlight all of his other shortcomings," Las Vegas conservative Bruce Feher told The Post. Giuliani, who addressed the key gathering yesterday, may top national GOP presidential polls, but conservatives already uneasy with...

CPAC: The Wind-Down

CPAC continues to wind down, just before Tim Pawlenty takes the stage for his appearance at the conference. Exhibitors have started disassembling their booths, and the attendees have mostly left the exhibition hall. A couple of exceptions are Major Eric Egland and Muhammad Ali Hasan. Major Egland has been walking the hallways to publicize his effort to get the American public to support the war, in both the Afghanistan and Iraq theaters (here with Mary Katharine Ham): He's going to have a book published later this month, and will be attending the Eagle Summit on March 17th. Muhammad Ali Hasan represents Muslims for America, which supports many (but not all) of the conservative agenda. They're backing Newt Gingrich for President, and may be the only organization to endorse both George Bush and Keith Ellison. He introduced himself to all of us and presented an intriguing enough platform that I though...

Three Leading GOP Campaigns Condemn Coulter's Remarks

Less than a day after Ann Coulter called John Edwards a "faggot" at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the three leading Presidential candidates denounced Coulter for her insult: Three of the leading Republican presidential candidates on Saturday denounced one of their party’s best-known conservative commentators for using an antigay epithet when discussing a Democratic presidential contender at a gathering of conservatives here. The remarks by Ann Coulter, an author who regularly speaks at conservative events, were sharply denounced by the candidates, Senator John McCain of Arizona, Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. Their statements came after Democrats, gay rights groups and bloggers raised a storm of protest over the remarks. ... Of the major Republican candidates, only Mr. McCain did not attend, but he denounced her remarks on Saturday morning. “The comments were wildly inappropriate,” said his spokesman, Brian Jones. Mr. Giuliani said, “The comments...

March 4, 2007

Romney Loses The Straw Poll -- No, Really (Bumped)

Governor Mitt Romney won the straw poll results at the CPAC event, one of the last stories of the conference. He outstripped Rudy Giuliani and left John McCain in the dust, but CPAC attendees will understand the real story behind those numbers: Mitt Romney won the most support for the Republican presidential nomination in a straw poll of GOP activists attending an annual conference. Despite his record of inconsistency on some social issues, the former Massachusetts governor got 21 percent of the 1,705 votes cast by paid registrants to the three-day Conservative Political Action Conference. They were asked who their first choice would be for the Republican nomination. Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor whose moderate stances on social issues irks the party's right wing, was second with 17 percent. Here are the full set of results from the poll: Romney – 21% Giuliani – 17% Brownback –...

CPAC: Pictures Speak A Thousand ...

I got back this afternoon from my CPAC adventure, tired out and glad to be home, but happy with the weekend's work. I'll be grateful for my own bed after the rather unpleasant stay I had at the Washington Plaza Hotel in DC. The place looks like a million bucks from the outside on Thomas Circle, but it looks like $1.50 on the inside. It has unique balconies that are shared for the entire floor, which means anyone can wander by your room. The balcony door only has a normal doorknob (the main room entrance is from the interior hallway), and mine fell off in my hand the first night I arrived. I asked twice the next morning for them to fix it, but when I got back to my room the next night, it was still broken. After listening to a bunch of foul-mouthed, loud lunatics on the balcony...

March 5, 2007

An Open Letter To The ACU And CPAC Sponsors

Note: This letter will appear simultaneously on a number of conservative blogs this morning. It has been scheduled in advance for that purpose. My personal remarks will appear below. Conservatism treats humans as they are, as moral creatures possessing rational minds and capable of discerning right from wrong. There comes a time when we must speak out in the defense of the conservative movement, and make a stand for political civility. This is one of those times. Ann Coulter used to serve the movement well. She was telegenic, intelligent, and witty. She was also fearless: saying provocative things to inspire deeper thought and cutting through the haze of competing information has its uses. But Coulter's fearlessness has become an addiction to shock value. She draws attention to herself, rather than placing the spotlight on conservative ideas. At the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2006, Coulter referred to Iranians as "ragheads."...

February 4, 2008

CapQ At CPAC

For the second year in a row, I'll be traveling to CPAC to join Blogger Row and to cover the excitement. I leave on Wednesday, which will mean a change in time for my Heading Right Radio show that day to 12:30 pm CT. The conference runs from Thursday, February 7th to Saturday, February 9th. I will broadcast all of my BlogTalkRadio shows live from the exhibit room floor, and I hope to line up some significant guests for both days. Of course, I'll also attend some of the presentations, check out the exhibitors, and try to talk to the candidates who will attend CPAC. Both Mitt Romney and John McCain will attend this year, as will many Congressional candidates looking for support. Last year's CPAC featured some fireworks, and undoubtedly this year's will bring even more. Just for fun, I'd like to see what CapQ readers would like to...

February 6, 2008

CPAC Looms Larger Than Ever

With John McCain rolling up some large delegate totals, his upcoming visit to CPAC tomorrow will be a critical point in his campaign. He has to find a way to work with the conservative activists that could help propel him to victory, and to do that he has to assure them of his own credentials as a conservative. Mark Tapscott has a suggestion for McCain's opening bid in his speech tomorrow: 1. McCain-Coburn: Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma may be the most credible politician in the GOP, thanks to his no-nonsense, bluntly honest approach to earmarks and federal spending. Coburn is already a McCain supporter. Reagan announced Schweicker ahead of the 76 GOP convention. McCain can put Coburn on the ticket and make him the McCain administration's tax and budget czar. 2. Reform McCain-Feingold: McCain should admit the First Amendment says Congress shall make NO law regarding freedom of political...

BlogTalkRadio Scheduling Notes For CPAC

With my trip to CPAC looming, I'm juggling some radio scheduling to accommodate the travel and speaker schedules. Please note the following changes: AOL Hot Seat: We will not broadcast this today, but will return to the air Thursday and Friday at the normal times of 1 pm ET. Today's poll can be found here. Heading Right Radio: Today's show airs at 12:30 pm CT. Jim Geraghty of National Review's Campaign Spot gives us his Super Tuesday Ledge Report. Who were the big winners and losers? Be sure to join us at the special time, and call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! Also, don't forget to join our chat room. This show is now sponsored by Lifelock -- and listen to find out how you can save 10% on their services. For CPAC, I'll have Heading Right Radio start at 3 pm CT (4 ET) on Thursday. John McCain addresses...

CPAC: Landed

I arrived at the Omni Shoreham hotel earlier tonight, a little at loose ends with not much happening until the morning. I retrieved my credentials for the conference, but then wandered the streets for a while, trying to determine what I wanted to do about dinner. Fortunately, I ran into my friends from the Sam Adams Alliance, who insisted that I join them for dinner and drinks. Of course, the subject of Paul Jacob and the Oklahoma 3 case was one of the main topics of conversation. We're going to have Paul join us again on the CPAC Channel at some point to remind us of his case and its import for the rights of Americans to petition government. And of course, tomorrow will be John McCain's big appearance here at CPAC. We'll have lots of events to cover tomorrow (all times ET): 11:00 - Vice President Dick Cheney 12:30...

February 7, 2008

The Challenge For McCain And Conservatives At CPAC Today

John McCain meets some of his fiercest critics today at CPAC, with a 3 pm ET speech that will provide a critical moment for both the candidate and the activists. Most have focused on what McCain has to do to reach out to the conservatives, but fewer understand that the movement has a decision to make as well regarding its future and its relevance. First, let's focus on McCain. The Senator will not win an election by suddenly gainsaying everything he has done over the past eight years since his last presidential campaign. He will have to focus on the future, including the future of the badly-needed immigration reform that everyone wants but no one can define to consensus. McCain will need to commit to nominating judges to the bench that will not legislate from there. He has to end the false dichotomy of "patriotism, not profit" and the little...

CPAC Podcast:: Rob Neppell, aka NZ Bear

In our CPAC series of podcasts, the first goes to Rob "NZ Bear" Neppell, of both Truth Laid Bear and Kithbridge. Rob and I have been friends for years, and we had a great conversation about the two biggest speeches coming up today. We discussed what Mitt Romney has to do to keep his hopes alive in the primary, which might be a tall order. We also talked about what John McCain has to say -- and how he has to say it -- to overcome conservative mistrust. Do conservatives have some work to do as well? Both Rob and I say yes. Keep your browser tuned to the CPAC Channel today. Because I'm using the BlogTalkRadio Business Solution, I can launch a podcast at any time, as many times as I want....

CPAC: Dick Cheney Speech Live-Blog

Dick Cheney is giving one of the first speeches here at CPAC. He got a very warm welcome from the crowd, which is SRO. The Cheney we're seeing now is the relaxed and funny speaker that we've known from many speeches here and other places. The intros are still going on, but I'll live-blog the substance. 11:24 - Cheney just reviewed the service record of a couple of men who will speak later today, and now he's wrapping up. A good speech, well received, and unapologetic for the war effort. 11:20 - On the war policy of the Bush administration: "Would I support those same decisions today? You're damned right I would." The war won't be on the defensive, Cheney says. 11:18 - Iraq will remain a tough job, as Petraeus has said. He is highlighting the gains from the surge, nothing terribly surprising. 11:14 - Defends the interrogation of...

CPAC Podcast:: Paul Jacob

I had an opportunity to speak with Paul Jacob, the man who faces 10 years in prison for the crime of advising Oklahomans on conducting a referendum petition drive. Paul mostly talks about others, but there is no doubt that Paul is the man on the firing line. He and two others face criminal conspiracy charges for their work in collecting signatures for a Taxpayers Bill of Rights in Oklahoma. If you are interested in reading more about this case, I wrote about it in October. Also, you can read more about Paul's other issues at Ballotpedia. Keep your browser tuned to the CPAC Channel today. Because I'm using the BlogTalkRadio Business Solution, I can launch a podcast at any time, as many times as I want....

CPAC Podcast:: Iraq Vets For Congress

Will Breazeale and Keiran Lalor visited Blogger Row this morning to talk about Iraq Vets for Congress, which promotes the candidacies of 12 Republican challengers for the House. We had a great conversation with Will, a major in the Army Reserve, and Kieran, a former Marine. They're asking for $25 donations to each of the candidates to raise $100,000 for the group, and they talk about the motivation for their campaigns. We'll be speaking with Jeff Flake and Tom Coburn later today!...

CPAC: Romney To Withdraw?

We're waiting for Mitt Romney's speech to start here in a few minutes, and I'll live-blog it once it begins. However, we all have heard the report from Mark Halperin at Time that Romney will use the event to announce his withdrawal from the race. It will, ironically, now overshadow the long-awaited attempt at rapprochement from John McCain this afternoon, but I'd bet McCain would take that trade. Keep checking back. Romney will take the stage in a few minutes .... 1:17 - Mitt made the right decision, and he made the announcement in the right place. He's a good man, and I think this will allow the Republicans a lot more time to find accommodation with John McCain. 1:04 - He wants to "do whatever it takes to be successful in Iraq," and this is his reason to withdraw. He's going to back out to ensure victory. 1:03 -...

CPAC Podcast:: Roy Beck, NumbersUSA

Earlier, I caught up with Roy Beck of NumbersUSA, a conservative action group on immigration policy. We happened to speak right after Mitt Romney withdrew from the race. Roy acknowledges that this will affect his strategy. Roy actually sounds pretty optimistic despite McCain's nomination....

CPAC Podcast:: Megan Ortagus, FreedomsWatch

Megan Ortagus of FreedomsWatch talked about the mission of her organization. Megan is the Iraq Project Manager, but Freedoms Watch has a much broader conservative agenda. They're here at CPAC to expand their visibility, and they're also interviewing bloggers and other attendees and posting the videos at their website....

CPAC Podcast:: Rep. Jeff Flake

Rob Neppell and I interviewed Rep. Jeff Flake, one of the heroes of the Porkbusters. Flake gave us an update on earmark reform, including his opinion that Republicans still haven't quite figured out the advantage they would have by adopting a full-throated opposition to pork. He describes the caucus' strategy now as a "prevent defense .... when you're 20 points down." For those who called House Republican leadership to press them to appoint Flake to Appropriations, that battle can still be won. Flake told us that they have delayed the decision, and that the thousands of calls and e-mails had a big impact on their hesitancy to pull the trigger. Go to Make It Flake to continue that pressure....

John McCain Speech Live Blog

John McCain will give his long-awaited speech to the assembled conservatives at CPAC. George Allen will introduce McCain, marking his first major appearance since his loss in 2006. He opened by talking about the diversity of the conservatives at the conference. That will remain to be seen. Are they diverse enough to generate support McCain? More follows .... 3:52 - That was an excellent speech. McCain genuinely reached out to conservatives in a heartfelt manner. I'll talk more about this on the Heading Right Radio. 3:51 - Just realized I was marking the time in CT. Sorry!! 2:42 - McCain sounds energized and is commanding the room. It's one of his better speeches, and he's hitting all the right notes for the crowd. A lot of them are his supporters, but Mitt's backers easily outnumbered those at CPAC. At the least, his opponents are giving him a chance to convince...

February 8, 2008

CPAC: George Bush Speech Live-Blog

George Bush makes his first CPAC appearance since his election today, in the last year of his presidency. People might be surprised to hear that, but Bush has let Dick Cheney make the CPAC appearances, and with good reason. While Bush has been a stalwart on national defense and judicial nominations, he has hardly wowed conservatives on spending discipline. His remarks today marks the beginning of a valedictory cycle that will take him all the way through to January 20th of next year. 8:05 - "My spirits are up, my energy is high, and I will finish strong!" He encourages CPAC to support the Republican nominee "who will carry the conservative banner" in the next election. He never did mention John McCain, but that might be because Huckabee remains in the race. 8:04 - People start chanting "Four more years!" again, and Bush shakes his head and laughs. I think...

CPAC Podcast: Mark Mathis & 'Expelled: The Movie'

Bloggers will get a treat tonight. The sponsor of Bloggers Corner (which actually has no corners), CRC Public Relations, has arranged for a pre-release screening of Expelled: The Movie. I interviewed the producer of the movie, Mark Mathis, in my first podcast for today. Fans of Dinesh D'Souza's book and our earlier interview with D'Souza will want to hear what Mathis has to say about academia. Later this evening, I hope to live-blog the sneak peek. With Ben Stein as its tour guide and with interviews of noted athiests like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, it promises to be explosive....

CPAC Podcast: Peggy Venable, Americans For Prosperity

Peggy Venable of Americans for Tax Prosperity in Texas dropped by to visit, and to talk about their efforts to stop Texas counties from hiring lobbyists in DC. AFP-TX will hold a summer conference in Austin to counter a netroots convention at the same time there. Listen to the podcast to hear Rob Neppell and me discuss their efforts and how they relate to porkbusting on the national level....

CPAC Podcast: JD Johannes

JD Johannes of Outside The Wire joins me to talk about his series of documentary episodes from Iraq. Tomorrow, JD will join Bill Roggio and Jeff Emanuel on a panel that will air these episodes and talk about embedded reporting for New Media in war zones. I'll be live-blogging the panel, starting at 11 am tomorrow, and it should be fascinating. They're about to start selling the episodes as part of a double-DVD set through their website. Here's a preview:...

CPAC Podcast: What Happened To Fred Thompson

Jon Henke of New Media Strategies and QandO worked on the Fred Thompson campaign for most of its run at the presidential nomination. With John McCain having all but wrapped up the prize, I asked Jon to talk about what went wrong in the campaign that had the blogosphere on fire for a brief moment. Jon gives us a little "straight talk" about the Thompson campaign....

CPAC Podcast: Pete Sepp, NTU

The NTU has done an analysis of the costs associated with the platforms of the major presidential candidates, and Pete Sepp joins me to discuss the results. Republicans may be surprised at the results of the study, which shows -- surprise! -- John McCain as the most fiscally conservative candidate still left in the race: The top-tier GOP candidates often portrayed as "conservative" (Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee) actually called for significantly larger spending hikes ($19.5 billion and $54.2 billion, respectively), than the so-called "moderate conservative" (John McCain, $6.9 billion). Among Democrats, Barack Obama, often described as ideologically more "moderate" than Hillary Clinton, actually has the larger agenda of the two ($287.0 billion vs. $218.2 billion). The entire study is available at the NTU website....

CPAC Podcast: David Bellavia

Rob Neppell and I spoke with author and Iraqi war vet David Bellavia, whose House to House provided one of the most gritty and realistic portraits of the war in Iraq. David has a lot on his mind, and he unloads on the war's opponents and their efforts to make him and his fellow vets into victims. He pulls no punches as he talks about Vets for Freedom....

CPAC Podcast: Josh Shultz, NRCC

Josh Shultz of the NRCC visited Blogger Row, and I shanghaied him into an interview. Josh talks about the challenges Republicans face in November in their efforts to win the House back, and the opportunities it also represents to reset the agenda for the GOP....

CPAC Podcast: Governor Jim Gilmore

Governor Jim Gilmore withdrew from the Republican presidential race last summer, but he has decided to run for Virginia's Senate seat currently held by the retiring John Warner. He spoke with Rob Neppell and me just after my Heading Right Radio show, and he outlined the conservative values that he intends to uphold in continuing service to Virginia. Anyone wishing to contribute to this important race needs to visit his website, Jim Gilmore for Senate....

February 9, 2008

Expelled: The Movie

The bloggers at CPAC received an invitation to screen a new documentary on academic intolerance called Expelled: The Movie this evening. The documentary features Ben Stein on a quest to understand the near-hysteria caused by scientists who so much as broach the idea of intelligent design in papers or in research. It follows Stein as he interviews professors denied tenure, editors fired, and journalists shunned for touching the subject even at its most innocuous levels. Before discussing my feelings about the film, which is still in post-production and will not go into release until April, I should explain my approach to the ID/evolution debate. I believe evolution is demonstrably proven in enough examples to say that its effect on variation in species cannot be denied. The example I used tonight in discussing this with another viewer (certainly not the only example) is antibiotic effects on bacteria. Antibiotics that kill 99%...

Bitter Enders

How are the attendees of CPAC handling the ascension of John McCain to the nomination? For the most part, I'd say fairly well. McCain hasn't generated wild enthusiasm from conservative activists, but the general sense is that he's earned an opportunity to partner with conservatives. I chatted briefly with McCain volunteers at their booth, and they say they've signed up over 200 new volunteers. That would be a significant number for any candidate at a conference with this kind of diversity. However, not everyone wants to put the divisions behind them. When I got to Blogger Row this morning, the desks had been papered by Patriot PAC. They have launched a new website, OpenGOPConvention, to urge voters to deny McCain the outright nomination. Headlined "CONTAIN MCCAIN!", they want Republicans to wait for a "real Ronald Reagan conservative" -- as if no one thought of the idea before. They also left...

CPAC Podcast: Mark Tapscott

CPAC honored my friend Mark Tapscott by naming him Conservative Journalist of the Year yesterday. Mark and I talk about the newspaper business, his attempt to move the business to the on-line model, and why my dating life resembled the 2007 Miami Dolphins. No, seriously....

CPAC Podcast: Mary Katherine Ham

Most people know her for her inventive and provocative video commentaries, and Mary Katherine Ham also gives incisive political analysis on podcasts. She joins me to discuss the temperature at CPAC. We talk about Huckabee, McCain, and the opportunities for moving forward towards unity while preserving conservative goals....

CPAC Podcast: Speaker Newt Gingrich

Rob Neppell and I interviewed former Speaker Newt Gingrich for a special CPAC Channel podcast. Gingrich talked about his efforts at American Solutions, where he is building grassroots efforts to bypass partisan roadblocks to resolving the issues ordinary Americans face. He also told us that the Republican Party can't win running a contrast campaign, but have to put forth a positive message with a real agenda for progress. I asked him about John McCain and how conservatives should approach his apparent nomination. He responded by saying that conservatives should not wed themselves to the GOP. However, he also reminds us that one can support a candidate while opposing some of their policies, and that John McCain is much better than Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Don't miss this interview!...

CPAC Podcast: Jim DeMint

Our final podcast today is with Senator Jim DeMint, who called in from Baghdad. Senator DeMint updates Rob Neppell and me on the status of our mission, the latest operation in Mosul, and the danger of early withdrawal. He also endorses John McCain for what we believe is the first time, and looks forward to an election fought in part on pork....

Huckabee Persists

For some reason, this didn't publish when I wrote it this morning. I'm posting it now instead. Governor Mike Huckabee addressed an enthusiastic crowd at CPAC this morning, despite giving his speech at the sleepy hour of 9 am on Saturday. Huckabee clearly was in fine mettle, keeping the fires going in the campaign. He spoke about the Fair Tax plan, at one point tearing up a 1040 form and throwing the pieces in the air to the delight of the crowd. Huckabee refuses to withdraw from the race. That didn't surprise anyone here, and the lack of anticipation could be seen throughout the exhibition hall. Where business came to a halt with the speeches from Mitt Romney and John McCain, most people outside the hall where Huckabee appeared gave the speech much notice at all. He wants to continue to press for the policy stands he has taken in...

February 10, 2008

CPAC Straw Poll, And Final Thoughts

Mitt Romney narrowly won the CPAC straw poll, but he did so mainly on the strength of ballots cast before his withdrawal. The final results took a back seat to the story told by the shift in voting after the first day's events: Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney narrowly beat John McCain, 35 to 34 percent, in a straw poll of conservative political activists gathered Saturday in Washington — a vote that is viewed as a barometer of support from that major GOP voting bloc. ... Roughly one-quarter of the votes in the three-day CPAC 2008 straw poll were cast before Mitt Romney dropped out of the presidential race, and three-quarters after his withdrawal. In votes cast before Romney left the race, he beat McCain 44 to 27 percent. Among votes gathered after Romney’s withdrawal, McCain led Romney 37 to 32 percent. I cast my vote on Friday, and...