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Palin’s Mockery Rouses CPAC

The former Alaska governor's broadsides against Obama drew louder cheers than the GOP candidates did. Eleanor Clift on Palin and the politics of resentment.

Her husband endorsed Newt Gingrich, but Sarah Palin made it clear in a spirited speech Saturday before conservative activists that she’s in no hurry to see the GOP race end.

Palin CPAC

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters-Landov

But while that might be seen as an effort to slow Mitt Romney’s march to the nomination, Palin assured the cheering crowd that she’s prepared to back whichever candidate emerges the victor. “We must stand united,” she said, bringing the crowd to their feet. “We must work together to get him over the finish line.”

Palin’s words may have been aimed at Mitt Romney, whose difficulty in rallying the conservative base signals an enthusiasm gap that could cripple his chances in the fall if he wins the nomination. Palin spoke immediately after a straw poll conducted at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington showed Romney the winner with 38 percent; Rick Santorum with 32; Gingrich 15, and Ron Paul 12.

CPAC

Palin: Let the Primary Go On

Palin: Let the Primary Go On J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Says there's “room for more debate.”

Here’s some much-needed political advice from a former vice-presidential candidate. Sarah Palin said on Saturday that there is no need for a hasty conclusion to the GOP primary and that she would not encourage any of the candidates to drop out of the race at this point because there is still “room for more debate, more discussion.” Palin said, “People who start screaming that a brokered convention is the worst thing that could happen to the GOP, they have an agenda. They have their own personal or political reasons, their own candidate who they would like to see protected away from a brokered convention.” She added, “Don’t let the political experts in the party say that we need to sew this thing up now.”

Read it at The New York Times

THE ROAD AHEAD

Romney’s CPAC Mini-Bounce

Mitt’s narrow win in Saturday’s straw poll was a welcome win after last Tuesday’s debacle. Ben Jacobs on which attacks on Romney will be toughest to overcome in the weeks ahead.

Mitt Romney won the CPAC straw poll on Saturday, showing new strength among the conservative activists, who, at times, have scorned him as a "RINO" (Republican in name only) in the course of the campaign. Edging out Rick Santorum, Romney’s campaign wasted little time blasting out a press release heralding the victory.

Romney CPAC

Mitt Romney addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference, Feb. 10, 2012 (Win McNamee / Getty Images)

Little wonder. Wins have been scarce for the GOP frontrunner of late. He lost all three caucuses last Tuesday and has fallen 15 points behind the surging Santorum in the latest national poll. He is now viewed unfavorably by almost half of Americans, according to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll. The CPAC victory might help blunt Santorum’s momentum, but Romney still faces a rough road ahead to unite the party behind him, his organizational and money advantages notwithstanding.

Almost every day since last June, when Tim Pawlenty first debuted his stumbling attack on “Obamneycare,” Romney has been under attack. Since that first volley from Pawlenty (who is now a fervent supporter of the ex-Massachusetts governor), Romney has been under fire for flaws ranging from being a “timid Massachusetts moderate” to his role as the rapacious “King of Bain”—and those are just some of the attacks from Newt Gingrich alone. But if, as expected, Romney becomes the GOP nominee, how many of these attacks will stick? After all, certain attacks, like flip-flopping on social issues, carry far more weight among primary voters than they do among those in a general election. However, others like his gaffes stating that he’s “not concerned about the very poor” and his infamous $10,000 bet could linger.

WINNER

Mitt Romney Wins CPAC Poll

Mitt Romney Wins CPAC Poll Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Takes 38 percent of vote.

The circus of conservatism known as CPAC wraps up each year with a straw poll, and Mitt Romney took home the prize, winning 38 percent of the vote Saturday afternoon. He narrowly edged out Rick Santorum, with 31 percent; Newt Gingrich got 15 percent and Ron Paul 12 percent. The slight boost for Romney comes on the heels of a new national poll that shows Santorum with a whopping 15-point lead.

Read it at Politico

OOPS

Huntsman Girls: CPAC Rejected Us

Huntsman Girls: CPAC Rejected Us Phelan Ebenehack / Reuters

Tweet “We didn’t quite make the list.”

Jon Huntsman’s daughters, the famed @Jon2012Girls, said Friday that they were not invited to the annual conservative gathering in Washington, CPAC, but a CPAC spokesman said Saturday that they would be happy to “contemplate” inviting Mary Anne, Abby, and Liddy Huntsman. “For everyone wondering if we made it to CPAC this year, the answer is no,” they tweeted. “We didn’t quite make the list. #CPACdoesn’twantyourcommentary.” Al Cardenas, a spokesman for the American Conservative Union, which hosts CPAC, said his organization never received a request from the Huntsman daughters to attend. “Have them contact us, and we’ll be happy to contemplate the possibility,” Cardenas said.

Read it at Politicker

Good One

Newt Jokes About Immigrant Tracker

Suggests UPS could keep track of anyone here illegally.

After a rousing introduction from wife Callista, which included assurances that he is an “enthusiastic” golfer and has a Kindle filled with leather-bound e-books, Newt Gingrich made the Conservative Political Action Committee crowd laugh with a hilarious immigrant joke. What’s the deal with illegal immigration? Gingrich would like to know. I mean, UPS can track packages, but “the U.S. government cannot find 11 million illegal immigrants, even if they’re sitting still. Now I have a proposal we send a package to everyone who’s here illegally, and when it’s delivered, we pull it up on a computer, we know where we are.” The audience loved it, but aware that there might be some PC police in the room, Gingrich clarified, “Let me say to my friends in the news media that that was hyperbole, and we don’t need a fact check.”

Read it at Talking Points Memo

In His Element

Mitt’s Love for Business Has Always Been Real

Romney works a room of 900 business leaders.

Mitt Romney had a bit of a lovefest Friday morning with a group of business leaders in Virginia. He told the crowd of about 900, “I know it seems like government doesn’t like you. I love you.” The former Massachusetts governor received a warm welcome and was encouraged with standing ovations, applause, and words of praise. Consumer Electronics Association president and CEO Gary Shapiro called Romney “amazingly frugal” and declared, “No one can claim that Mitt Romney’s parents spoiled him.” The presidential hopeful focused on the dangers of government hindering free enterprise, noting Solyndra in particular to illustrate that “government action in an economy stifles innovation when it chooses winners.”

Read it at The Washington Post

Romancing the Right

Newt Rips GOP Establishment

Gingrich strikes a revolutionary tone at CPAC conference. Howard Kurtz on the stark contrast with Romney’s attempt to romance the right.

Newt Gingrich, using a conservative conference in Washington to stake out different turf from his GOP rivals, portrayed himself Friday as the scourge of what he derisively called the “Republican establishment.”

After being introduced at CPAC by his wife, Callista, who described him as a committed family man and enthusiastic golfer, undoubtedly to deflect attention from you-know-what, Gingrich proclaimed, “This campaign is a mortal threat to their grip on the establishment, because we intend to change Washington, not accommodate it.”

This establishment, said Gingrich, who was once at its heart as the House speaker, prefers to “manage the decay” because its “timidity” prevents it from challenging the Beltway culture. He even took a shot at both parties on the Hill, saying, "Crony capitalism in Congress is fully as bad as crony capitalism on Wall Street.” The message: he is the only one promising radical change.

Mitt Romney had a very different mission. He took great pains to wrap himself tightly in conservative garb, drawing several standing ovations as he cast himself as “a severely conservative Republican governor” from Massachusetts.

Strategy

Santorum Flies His Faith Flag

Fresh off his victories this week, the former senator denounced abortion at CPAC. Howard Kurtz on Santorum’s strategy of emphasizing his Catholic faith.

If there was any lingering doubt that Rick Santorum is going to run for president as a committed Catholic, it vanished on Friday morning.

Rather than wait for his speech at CPAC, the huge conservative gathering in Washington, Santorum held forth in a hallway at a gathering called Students for Life.

Addressing his own faith, the man whose presidential campaign has been revitalized by a triple victory this week declared that for him, faith provides “motivation. It’s a calling.”

In a voice that was barely audible given the 10-foot throng around him, the former senator sounded an inclusive note at first, saying, “This is a movement, not based on condemnation, not based on accusation, but based on love.”

Day Two

Santorum Targets Obama at CPAC

Rick plans to skip his competitors and aim straight for the president.

As a part of his new, winning attitude, Rick Santorum will forgo picking on his GOP rivals and focus on Barack Obama during his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Specifically, according to a senior adviser, the presidential hopeful will attack what he thinks is the Obama administration's disreguard for American freedom.

Read it at CNN Political Ticker

Rules Of Attraction

CPAC: Looking for Mr. Right Wing

At the conservative conclave, everyone from Oliver North to Chuck Woolery says they're still shopping for their man. Which candidates are making a love connection with the base?

The Conservative Political Action Conference—which brought 10,000-odd true believers to Washington Thursday to bash Barack Obama and hash over the fate of the Republican Party—offered a well-attended seminar on "Conservative Dating,” as in male-female relations. But the more pressing question looming over the 39th annual confab known as CPAC was: which Republican presidential candidate should conservatives be dating?

Republicans Conservatives

Sen. Marco Rubio, addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, Feb. 9, 2012 (J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photos)

With the exception of Ron Paul, who sent his senatorial son Rand to romance the throng (and the ungrateful wretch didn’t even mention his dad and instead took the love for himself), all the suitors were on the schedule of the three-day conference—sponsored by the American Conservative Union—in advance of Saturday’s straw poll.

GOP Pow-Wow

Things to Watch For at CPAC

As the GOP primaries go into a lull, attention swings this weekend to CPAC, where Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich will speak, Paul Ryan will keynote, Occupy DC will protest, a presidential straw poll will be held, and everyone will look for clues of who Sarah Palin will endorse.

Who needs more GOP primaries? Although the campaign to select a Republican nominee has just started a quiet period, there will be more than enough political excitement this weekend in Washington, D.C. at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC. If you’re giddy about the presidential race, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich will speak; if you’re interested in conservative ideas, Paul Ryan will be giving the keynote address; if you’re eager to meet C-list celebrities, Stephen Baldwin and Chuck Woolery will both be speaking; and if you’re just looking for love, there will be a conservative dating event as well. And, if you’re a political reporter looking for another delegate-free presidential vote to cover after Tuesday night, there will be a presidential straw poll as well.

Watch Michele Bachmann's CPAC gaffes.

CPAC is a nearly 40-year-old event held by the American Conservative Union annually, and has been likened to a “Mardi Gras for the Right.” According to Alyssa Farah, the communications director of the College Republican National Committee who has attended the conference every year since she was a freshman at Patrick Henry College, “its giant strategy session meets party.” By day, it’s a frantic political networking event, with attendees “going in and out of different speakers and trying to brush elbows.” By night, it becomes “a much more informal atmosphere” with “cocktail receptions,” culminating in the Reaganpalooza party on the last night of the conference, held at the Teatro Goldoni, a pricy Italian restaurant on K Street.

The event in recent years also been has been punctuated with controversy over the participation of a GLBT Republican group, GOProud. Its participation in the past sparked controversy, as other social-conservative organizations like the Family Research Council and the Concerned Women of America boycotted in protest. This year, however, GOProud was dropped as a co-sponsor. (Although to balance things out, CPAC excluded the John Birch Society as well). According to GOProud Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia, “this was the best thing that ever happened” to the organization, which advocates for “gay conservatives and their allies.” He said “all the folks that ranted and raved did nothing but good stuff [and] raise[d] our credibility, membership and budget.”

Santorum Slams Obama's Contraception Deal

Rick took on the president's concession today to let religious organizations opt out of a rule requiring all employers to pay for birth control. "This is the kind of coercion we can expect," Santorum said at CPAC. "It's not about contraception. It's about government control of our lives and it's got to stop."

  1. CPAC Gets Weird Play

    CPAC Gets Weird

Election Beast

From the Daily Beast

Obama’s Smart Birth-Control Move

Obama’s Smart Birth-Control Move

Only in our absurd health-care system is a woman’s boss involved with her sex life. By Dana Goldstein

Controversy

Planned Parenthood: A Bully?

MIXED MESSAGES

Romney’s Big Penthouse Donor

Tell-All

‘I Did Love Him’

FAMILY VALUES

Santorum's Pro Wrestling Past

David Frum

Reports from CPAC

Romney's Pitch: I've Lived Conservatism

Romney's Pitch: I've Lived Conservatism

Santorum: We're Not Going to Win With Money

Low Key

Rand Paul is Not Like His Father