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Posted at 3:15 PM ET, 01/11/2011

CPAC boycotters respond

By Jennifer Rubin

Yesterday I wrote about the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) boycott. I received a call from a conservative PR firm representing several social conservative groups that wanted their side of the boycott presented. I spoke by phone this morning with Andy Blom, head of the American Principles Project.

The group has only been in existence for two years, and it's not clear what size constituency it has. Blom conceded that it is "not a membership organization" but he claims a mailing list of 40,000 in Iowa alone.

I asked about his letter to CPAC organizers. Does he object to other "identity" groups? No. He explains that he has run the successful "Latino Project" and excoriates fellow conservatives for their failure to reach out to Hispanics and for their inflammatory rhetoric. He argues that this is different from GOProud's inclusion in CPAC because Hispanics embrace social conservative values and aren't out to "set up the Hispanic wing of the Republican Party." He says gays should just join economic conservative groups like Americans for Tax Reform. But hasn't GOProud supported pro-life activities? He concedes that "they have attempted to align themselves with the Susan B. Anthony group, but that was from an economic perspective." He is referring to opposition to taxpayer funded abortions, a central issue for social conservative groups.

In the letter he refers to William F. Buckley, Jr.'s successful effort to throw the John Birch Society out of the GOP. Is he making an analogy? He first hedges, saying that he is "not in any way suggesting the groups have like ideas." But is he making the case that it is as important to toss out GOProud as it was to jettison the Birchers? He says bluntly, "Yes." It's far from clear that the majority of conservatives would agree with that formulation.

What if all the 2012 presidential candidates show up? He says his group has not reached out to the candidates to ask that they not attend. But, he concedes, "We'd be very happy to have them all boycott it." He nevertheless is realistic that it's not in the cards. So, he says the next best thing would to have them appear and "take this on." Why then doesn't his group show up and take on the GOProud issue? He seems to suggest his organization doesn't have much sway. He contends, "They [the candidates] have a forum we wouldn't have." Later in the interview he comes back to the strategy of boycotting, saying that had his group shown up and argued their case "the story wouldn't have made it out of the party. We would not have been able to draw attention to the issue."

The goal here is plainly to assert the relevance of social conservative issues. He vows that candidates will "take it on the chin" if they ignore social issues or favor a "truce." Is he referring to Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels? Blom is dismissive. "We are not as confused as he is. He said he wanted a 'truce.' Then he had a stumbling explanation that he wasn't calling for a truce." Blom asserts, "The other side is not considering a truce." He argues that this phrase "sends a signal" that conservatives will give in on social issues. By doing this, he claims that candidates would be "dramatically weakening any chance they have." His group has now sent out a letter criticizing CPAC for including Daniels in the program, calling it an "affront to millions of conservatives." He even claims that "if marriage falls, the next attack will be on religious freedom." He doesn't explain how that would play out.

But why not show up and make all those arguments, just as Ron Paul's supporters did? He then lashes out at the Paul followers, saying they made it difficult to get into meetings. He says the Paul supporters attendance "was not a positive thing." He even goes so far as to say attendance doesn't matter. "So long as CPAC is willing to give out scholarships to college students, give them free hotels and interesting speakers in the middle of winter, you're going to get them." Perhaps anticipating a strong attendance regardless of the boycott, he contends that lots of people have already made their reservations or don't even know about the issue. (This seems to contradict his assertion that his strategy successfully raised awareness of their group's complaint).

Will he picket the event? He says only, "We are not done. We will be doing more."

The question remains: Is all of this actually helping Blom's cause? Perhaps there is a different goal in mind. He concedes that the boycott is part of a larger effort "about establishing an alternative to CPAC." For now, there is no sign that CPAC is endangered as one of the premiere conservative events of the year or that presidential hopefuls are inclined to encourage boycott tactics.

By Jennifer Rubin  | January 11, 2011; 3:15 PM ET
Categories:  Conservative movement  
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Comments

Of course, it was those waiting for Ron Paul to speak who booed off the stage that guy condemning CPAC for allowing GOProud to participate, last year. I suppose that might have made their attendance 'not a good thing' as far as this other group is concerned.

Posted by: sailingaway1 | January 11, 2011 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Obama is the worst affirmative action hire of all time, but Steele has to be in the top ten.

Posted by: eoniii | January 11, 2011 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Ooops. Wrong thread.

Posted by: eoniii | January 11, 2011 5:51 PM | Report abuse

CPAC has decided it is going Libertarian and that is fine but they ought to admit it. The Social Conservatives can have their own Value's Voters convention. I think he is correct that a lot of people who had signed up for CPAC were unaware of the GOProud group being such a large portion of it, that of course will not be the case next year.

Posted by: Jaded2 | January 11, 2011 6:16 PM | Report abuse

It sounds like this guy would prefer the most left wing president in American history to a libertarian focus on the looming economic disaster. This is not the time to focus on religious issues to the exclusion of the crisis that is coming. People can still pray in the cold and dark that we see ahead unless we get government under control. Besides, I suspect his membership can hold their meetings in his kitchen.

Posted by: mtkennedy | January 11, 2011 7:18 PM | Report abuse

He even claims that 'if marriage falls, the next attack will be on religious freedom.'

The above quote is the most asinine thing I have yet read on this site. Firstly, the notion that letting gay people marry is a failure of marriage is ridiculous and secondly how in the world is government recognition of gay marriage an infringement of your religious liberties? The law is not forcing churches to perform marriage ceremonies. If the government ever tried such a thing, it would provoke an outcry so loud, you would hear it on Saturn. GOVERNMENT recognition of gay marriage is not a religious issue.

As a conservative, I am growing increasingly sick and tired of one-issue social conservatives who seem to have made it a mission of theirs to ostracize gay people, regardless of how conservative they are. In the minds of bigots like Blom, being gay and being conservative are mutually exclusive.

Posted by: Bob65 | January 11, 2011 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Ah. Yes. The dreaded libertarians. If they get into power what they want is that government leave the people alone. Despicable.

We should be glad that True Conservatives™ want to replace the meddling left (the fount of all evil) with the meddling right (the home of all that is good).

The cry of the "Conservative" is "if only we were in power".

The cry of the libertarian is "if only the government had less power."

Which do you think is more attractive politically?

Posted by: msimon6808 | January 11, 2011 9:03 PM | Report abuse

"The law is not forcing churches to perform marriage ceremonies. If the government ever tried such a thing, it would provoke an outcry so loud, you would hear it on Saturn"

And all the liberal media would be running stories the next day on violence we can expect that outcry to provoke.

Libertarians should want the state out of marriage altogether, not placing its stamp of approval on a new form. And there really shouldn't be a conflict with social conservatives, as libertarians can recognize their rights to live as they like and run their churches and communities as they like.

Posted by: adam62 | January 11, 2011 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Oh please! I OBVIOUSLY don't agree with him. He's telling us what his position is. If you can't discern my views on the matter you should re-read.

Posted by: Jennifer Rubin | January 11, 2011 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Yup

Posted by: Jennifer Rubin | January 11, 2011 10:36 PM | Report abuse

Jennifer, how can anyone tell whom you are responding to here?

Posted by: adam62 | January 11, 2011 11:43 PM | Report abuse

The gay-mariage issue is a losing issue for the GOP unless they redefine the argument from pro/con gay marriage to whether government should be invovled in the marriage licensing business in the first place. By granting government the right to license marriage as it does hunting and driver's licenses, one ultimately gives government the same power to take those licenses away. Anything government gives it can take away. It's time to support the Government-Free Marriage movement and solve the many problems associated with government's encroachment into private individuals' lives.. Government-Free Marriage, an idea who's time has come. http://www.governmentfreemarriage.com

Posted by: joshfarmer76 | January 12, 2011 5:21 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Josh Farmer. We do not want government in control of marriage. We need to start treating each other as humans. Government free marriage is the pathway to equality. Government should have no control over religion or marriage. Leave marriage to the religions or to the people to freely contract with one another.

Posted by: sarah9miller | January 14, 2011 2:41 PM | Report abuse

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