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 – Whether Hillary or Obama wins, the statists advance. He says “Many in this room are fully behind my campaign.” Is he withdrawing?
12:59 – This has been one of his best speeches — he’s energized, emphatic, and inspiring. If this is his swan song, it will be a little ironic. He’s now talking about economics, his best topic, and the crowd loves the idea of “taking a weedwhacker at regulation” and “standing up to the unions that run our government.”
12:55 – Talking defense of families, and the culture of dependency. He calls for a Constitutional amendment for the definition of marriage — the first policy statement of the speech. Otherwise, this has been a thematic address.
12:52 – Paying some tribute to the culture warriors on the Right. He’s talking about the importance of faith, family, and freedom, and notes that even non-believing Americans believe in something “greater than themselves” which helps set America apart.
12:50 – Without conservative principles, America could become the “France of the 21st century — still a great nation, but not the world leader, not a superpower.”
12:49 – He’s noting the large lead in delegates McCain has. This sounds like a valediction.
12:48 – He thanks talk radio for everything they do for conservatism. Romney also thanks the organizers at CPAC, and promises to come back many times in the future.
12:47 – Huge welcome for Romney. Absolutely huge.
12:45 – Romney’s coming up now, introduced as “the conservative’s conservative”. Be aware — this will pre-empt the AOL show this afternoon. Can’t be helped;my apologies. This is breaking news.
12:40 – She tells the audience that in 1976, people told Reagan to get out of the race for the good of the party, and he refused. If Romney withdraws today, that’ll sting….
12:39 – She says Hillary’s $5 million went to “tear-duct enlargement surgery”. That got a big laugh.
12:37 – Laura Ingraham will introduce Romney. She starts off by telling people to “calm down”, a derisive reference to McCain’s statement yesterday.

CPAC Podcast:: Iraq Vets For Congress

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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 Podcast:: Paul Jacob

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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: 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 Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, which gets a rousing cheer from the audience. “They are in full compliance with the nation’s laws and our treaty obligations.” It has saved thousands of lives, Cheney tells the audience. “We do not torture,” but do not shrink from aggressively working to protect the nation.
11:12 – Emphasizing that terrorism is not a law-enforcement issue, but a national-defense and intelligence issue. The US needs to ensure that the front line of our defenses has the tools it needs to protect us. Cheney wants to make sure that the FISA laws passed last year get extended for a lengthy period, and “those who helped secure this nation do not get harassed with lawsuits”.
11:10 – “The absence of another 9/11 is not an accident — it is an achievement.” That gets by far the biggest response. Everyone is on their feet.
11:08 – A better reaction on Bush’s work on pro-life and judicial nominations. Will McCain take a cue from that?
11:06 – Repeats Bush’s pledge to veto budgets that don’t reduce earmarks by 50%. He also talks about the EO on non-legislative earmarks. That gets a bigger cheer, but I suspect that many may wonder why the number can’t be 90% or better, and why the EO couldn’t have applied to this year’s budget. I’m not hearing a huge reaction to this.
11:04 – Demands permanence for the Bush tax cuts and outlines the impact of them. He also calls for lower spending, and explains how that works in a $3.1 trillion budget. Well, that doesn’t get much more than golf claps.
11:03 – Cheney is emphasizing economics, and the need to keep taxes low. “Put more tax money back into the hands of those who earned it.” He promises no new regulations for “meddling” with the economy.
11:00 am ET – He’s underscoring the support that he has for the candidates who will speak here. That may carry some weight with the conservatives, although it was somewhat subtle.

CPAC Podcast:: Rob Neppell, aka NZ Bear

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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.

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 war of words on Wall Street, a kind of populism that conservatives rightly reject. He will also need to recast his focus on global warming to acknowledge that the US cannot unilaterally handicap itself economically and allow more manufacturing to disappear overseas thanks to even more expensive domestic energy production.
If McCain can do all of that, he will have come more than halfway to meeting the conservatives. If the latter doesn’t show up at that halfway point, though, they risk more than a lost election. They put their credibility at risk as a coalition partner for rational governance.
Despite the size of CPAC, the conservative wing of the Republican Party is one of several factions within a big tent. Within that movement exists sub-factions as well. In order to have influence over public policy, any movement has to align itself with other compatible factions to form a governing coalition. That means sharing decisions and sometimes subordinating some issues in order to hold the coalition together, including leadership decisions.
Responsible coalition members understand that dynamic. Factions that refuse to cooperate in a coalition wind up marginalized and pushing the coalition in the opposite direction. If McCain wins the nomination without conservatives, he will push towards the center in the general election. Win or lose, the conservatives will have no influence on public policy either way, and will not be trusted as coalition partners for a long, long time afterwards.
Everyone has a lot at stake today. Conservatives owe McCain a hearing today, and they owe it to themselves to carefully consider whether they want to be taken seriously in the future.
Addendum: Rick Moran has a very funny “preview” of the McCain speech and his welcome at CPAC.

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 – Governor Mitt Romney
1:00 – Mark Steyn
3:00 – Senator John McCain
And that’s just the start. Be sure to keep checking back here at CapQ and with the CPAC Channel tomorrow for highlights and interviews!

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 at our normal time, and since this will perhaps be the most important speech of the conference, I’ll air the show afterwards to talk about the speech and the reception it received. I’ll also speak with Jim DeMint, the porkbusting Senator. On Friday, we’ll go back to our regularly scheduled time with the Week in Review, joined as always by Duane “Generalissimo” Patterson.
The CPAC Channel: I get to use BlogTalkRadio’s corporate solution to do multiple, spontaneous interviews. Expect most of the interviews I get to appear on this channel. And if your business or enterprise could benefit from always-accessible live-stream and podcast integration, be sure to let me know, and we can work together to make BlogTalkRadio provide the solution!
UPDATE: Here’s one of the efforts we’ll see at CPAC:

The Top 10 Reasons Dick Durbin Needs to MoveOn
10. Extreme on Abortion. Dick Durbin voted to allow partial-birth abortion, human cloning and minors to cross state lines for an abortion in order to avoid parental notification laws.
9 Anti-Taxpayer. Dick Durbin has repeatedly voted against tax cuts that have saved Illinois taxpayers over $2,200 per year.
8. Pro-Ultra Liberal MoveOn.Org. Dick Durbin was one of only 25 members of the Senate who voted against condemning the radical ultra-liberal’s baseless personal attack on Four Star General David Petraeus. …

We’ve spoken with Durbin’s opponent in November, Dr. Steven Sauerberg, a couple of times on Heading Right Radio. You can contribute to the cause at this site.

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 speech. That means McCain-Feingold must be rewritten as a campaign finance disclosure law, not a campaign speech regulation.
3. Build The Fence: Stop the nonsense and doubletalk. Like Reagan said, a nation that cannot control its border is not a sovereign nation.

The third may be the most likely to appear in the speech. The other two will likely not. If McCain wants to keep Mike Huckabee in the race to frustrate Romney’s hopes of a head-to-head race, he has to keep the VP option open. Besides, Reagan’s announcement of Schweicker didn’t do Reagan a lot of good in 1976, and was widely seen as a mistake. And on the BCRA, I suspect we will not hear any retreat from the Senator who considers that his signature legislation and has gone to court to defend it.
Still, Mark’s right in that McCain has to start negotiating for support in part on the terms of conservatives. He will likely do so on judicial nominations, pork-barrel spending, and budget reductions. We can also expect to hear reminders that McCain has been pro-life during his entire career, and while he might not support Constitutional amendments favored by the pro-life activists, he isn’t going to roll back the work done by the movement over the last twenty-five years.
Today is a travel day for me, as I will be attending CPAC. I’ll report on the speech and its reception, as well as any by Mitt Romney as he tries to keep the conservatives lined up behind him. I’ll be conducting my normal Heading Right Radio show, but I will also have a BlogTalkRadio CPAC channel. It will publish the interviews I conduct immediately as podcasts, so be sure to keep checking the channel for updates.
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