CPAC: Picking America’s next president?
The Conservative Political Action Conference is the Republican Party’s biggest gathering of the year. The conference has about 10,000 attendees who come to hear speakers like presidential hopefuls like Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty and Ron Paul. Tea Party favorite Michele Bachmann kicked off this year’s festivities as the keynote speaker. On the second day of the conference, however, all eyes were on Mitt Romney. Though he did not officially announce that he would run, he said, “It is going to take a lot more than rhetoric to put Americans back to work, it’s going to take a new president.” Another potential presidential candidate, Donald Trump, also made an appearance saying, “While I am not this time a candidate for the presidency, I will decide by June whether or not I will become one.”Though many voters say Trump’s potential run would be a joke. A recent Rasmussen poll has Romney leading Obama in the 2012 presidential race. Romney also reiterated his support of ‘peace through strength’ which is an idea that Michele Bachmann spoke of as well. Former Vice President Dick Cheney also made a surprise appearance to present his old friend and colleague, Donald Rumsfeld, with the ‘Defender of the Constitution’ award. Potential 2012 presidential candidate Newt Gingrich took the stage, mainly to bash Barack Obama for his policies; “The Obama administration is wrong on terrorism, wrong on Iran, wrong on the Muslim Brotherhood, wrong on Hezbollah.” Freshman Senator Rand Paul had some new ideas which were not received too well by the conservative crowd. “Here’s the compromise that conservatives will also have to make. We will have to look long and hard at the military budget,” he said. Some participants were quick to make the distinction between ‘them’ and everyone else; “The Tea Party is interested in selecting our tea party candidates, not just the establishment Republicans.” Trump noted, “The United States is becoming the laughing stock of the world.” What he may not realize, however, is that the joke may be on him.Conservative activist Tony Katz, the host of “The Conversation with Tony Katz” on PJTV.com said the key components behind CPAC and conservatism are the principles. “The candidates that the right has to put forth have to be able to articulate principles properly,” he said. “Those principles are constitution, capitalism, fiscal responsibility, and smaller government. You will not win with a candidate who is going to be strong on national defense but thinks that Obama-care is a thing we should be worrying about right now.”He argued candidates cannot play the middle; they must take a strong conservative stance to win. “Principles win the day,” Katz added. Jake Diliberto, a policy analyst with Rethink Afghanistan and RT blogger added foreign policy to the list, saying it too is important at the presidential level. “Obama has lost the foreign policy debate,” he said. A Republican cannot win in 2012, he argued, unless he or she tells Obama how wrong he is on handling the War in Afghanistan and global terrorism.In general, conservatives are adamant about their opposition to government intervention in their lives, however many are happy for the government ot be involved in social issues like abortion and the death penalty. Katz disagreed, arguing social conservatives do not want government involved; they want government out and want the decisions based to the people and the states.“They believe in the overturning the Rowe v. Wade because it should be a state’s rights issue, it should not be something the federal government takes up,” he remarked. The Tea party and traditional conservatism boast differences and values, the current conversation is focused on what the difference are and who might over take the other, Katz and Diliberto agreed. “The Tea Party is, if you could nail them down, fiscal responsibility, capitalism, anti-Obama care,” commented Diliberto. “Social conservatives or conservatism in the Republican sense is strong foreign policy, traditional family values and some of the more Christian right movements. That’s the divide.”Many wonder if the divide will hinder both sides in finding a viable candidate to face Obama in 2012.Katz argued, “Anything that increases conversation helps us. It helps us to find the principles and the principles will bring about the candidate.” Diliberto disagreed.“Democrats love that Republicans are in a civil war, they love it,” he said, “It allows them to be, for one time in the Democrats life, to have a single message.” In the 2010 election Republicans made the largest electoral gains in over 70 years, pointed out Katz. HE argued the civil war within the party is positive. Diliberto was quick to point out however the gains were not in the senate and that they still do not hold the Presidency and will not in 2012 unless they worth together and tackle defense spending and foreign policy. Looking to 2012, Diliberto predicted Congressman Ron Paul would receive the Republican nomination to face Obama. Katz disagreed, but gave no other alternative.