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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 02/13/2011

What did we learn from CPAC?

By Jennifer Rubin

We didn't learn from the CPAC straw poll who will be the 2012 presidential nominee. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) won the poll (in which a third of the delegates participated), as he did last year. In 2007 and 2008 Mitt Romney won the CPAC poll and lost the nomination. But the CPAC gathering did tell us some important things.

First, there is, in fact, a rationale for a run by former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton. The other CPAC speeches were sorely short on foreign policy. It is jarring that those who want to be president have so little to say about transformative events. However, should he not run, it is interesting to note that Bolton sees promise in another candidate. Chris Cillizza reports:

Asked after his speech whether he felt there had been enough discussion of Egypt at CPAC, Bolton demurred. "I don't want to comment on the other speakers," he said. "I saw Governor Pawlenty last night and I thought the points he made were right on target." However, he reiterated his call for more national security debate. "I think all of the Republican candidates basically share the same broad principles and it's a very well-qualified field," he said. "What I want do is have a more intense national debate to flesh their positions out."

Second, New Jersey Chris Christie, who didn't show up (but will be giving a speech in D.C. on Feb. 16), came in third in the straw poll with 6 percent. The mere mention of his name by another potential candidate, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, elicited cheers. Should he change his mind and enter the race I suspect he quickly would become the front runner.

Third, Pawlenty and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) exceeded expectations and suggested that there are plenty of "not Romney" candidates who can combine a genial personality with solid conservative positions.

Fourth, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels gave a wonkish speech, but sure didn't seem like he understood the requirements of a presidential run (e.g., appealing to social conservatives). By contrast, Barbour gave a speech showing him to be no policy wonk, but cleverly appealing to key constituent groups. (Jonathan Martin of Politico hit the nail on the head, observing: "There is a name for a Republican governor who wants it known that he walked-the-walk on spending, restricted abortion and welcomes tea partiers into the party: presidential candidate.")

And finally, Romney showed himself to be the weakest frontrunner since, well, maybe Rudy Giuliani in 2008. Romney, unlike Giuliani, has a well-oiled campaign team and a strategy to focus on early primaries. However, there is no sign that he understands the enormity of his RomneyCare problem or has come up with a credible response.

With Romney hobbled and Sarah Palin most likely out of the picture, the Republican primary is as wide open as any in recent memory. In Iowa one could easily imagine a Pawlenty, Barbour or Thune running well, and thereby jumping from the pack to the top "not Romney" slot. And those potential candidates on the sidelines should consider getting in the game -- there is plenty of daylight in which to run.

By Jennifer Rubin  | February 13, 2011; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  2012 campaign  
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Next: A 'dodge' or a retreat?

Comments

Right on Jennifer. Daniels speech just wasn't all that great, and he really is a fiscal/social liberal. Pawlenty was at least strong and he was utterly correct to defend Mubarak. Thune would probably be the most electable guy out there, right now, if he runs. Just don't see Christie running, which is too bad.

Posted by: WS_Bull | February 13, 2011 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I didn't nmake the conference so I didn't hear the speeches, but I think Daniels is very electable. The right position for a national GOP leader is that Roe v. Wade is bad law - there is no federal right to an abortion. Abortion should revert to its pre-1973 status - a matter for the states to decide.

Posted by: DennisAOK | February 13, 2011 1:10 PM | Report abuse

I disagree with your reaction to the Mitch Daniels speech. I watched the entire thing on-line. He is truly presidential timber in my eyes.

Posted by: coffeetime | February 13, 2011 1:11 PM | Report abuse

One thing we learned is that CPAC is made up of a lot of Ron Paul fans. Don't think that speaks well of CPAC. We also learned that the spokesman for GOProup is a former lobbyist for Planned Parenthood and says vile things about other conservatives. Can someone tell me what conservative positions they really hold? And why are they for identity politics? I'd really wish you would address that Jennifer instead of snarking on other conservatives who don't agree with you.

Posted by: cajunkate | February 13, 2011 1:54 PM | Report abuse

What did we learn from CPAC?

That a substantial # of Conservatives reject both the Standard GOP/Boehner-McConnell,and the NeoCon GOP/Palin. The Libertarian GOP is on the upswing. If Paul ran as a 3RD party,the GOP would be screwed. I'd vote for Paul over Obama either as a GOP or a 3RD party. He's the only GOPer I would vote for besides his Son. WHY? Despite the fact that I have many disagreements with Paul(like over Universal HealthCare)I trust him to do what he says he will/He has a high integrity quotent,In my Opinion.

Posted by: rcaruth | February 13, 2011 1:59 PM | Report abuse

What we learned from CPAC 2011 is that people are afraid to acknowledge Ron Paul's integrity. He is the only one that is willing to stand up and tell people what the problem is and how to fix it.

1. Stop spending - bring troops home from Japan, Germany, and other places where it is unnecessary.

2. Give people a chance to opt out of welfare programs like Social Security and use the money we saved from the military on weaning people off of said programs. (ponzi schemes never work)

3. Get rid of the income tax so that people can keep the fruits of their labor. Since their is less to pay for from the first 2 points this is possible.

4. Legalize the competition of money. The Federal Reserves inflationary policies causes wealth to be destroyed which leads to unemployment and also prices to rise which can lead to poverty.

These are just a few things that can be done, not overnight obviously, but we can't be afraid to move in this direction.

Don't be afraid of Freedom.

Posted by: aaronburrismyhero | February 13, 2011 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: aaronburrismyhero

Aaron,Here's a dirty little secret,that you probably already figured out. If RP got the GOP nomination,Jennifer and her ilk would vote for Obama,(The Devil We Know). The NeoCons are for forcing other countries into Exceptionalism,and that is a very expensive process. Here's a few of Paul's positions that are Anathema to the Neos:
*Gold Standard
*Congress must Declare Wars/no more Presidential Pre-emptions
*No more Fed Reserve

Posted by: rcaruth | February 13, 2011 3:47 PM | Report abuse

The "Romneycare problem" really isn't that big of a problem for me. It is a state plan. One that has been heavily tampered with by the 85% Democrat majority in that state. Romney has shown absolutely no interest in morphinhg Mass-care into some kind of Obama style one-size-fits all federal plan. In fact it's been quite the opposite. The fact that Romney was able to do something about healthcare in his state on a bipartisan basis, without raising taxes and no new spending is actually a positive accomplishment.

Posted by: sambunderson | February 13, 2011 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Ok, Jennifer I'm dying to know why you say "Sara Palin is most likely out of the running."

Also, when, if ever, will you come out and comment on Christie's appointment of a Hamas linked judge?

I have been a fan of Christie because he is the only one I can think of who has the rocks and the personality to stand up to Mister Peanut in televised debate.

Posted by: nana1353 | February 13, 2011 6:31 PM | Report abuse

"With Romney hobbled and Sarah Palin most likely out of the picture, the Republican primary is as wide open as any in recent memory."

In other words, the Republicans haven't got anyone with a hope in hell.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 13, 2011 6:48 PM | Report abuse

What we have learned from the comments thread is that Ron Paul supporters are delusional. Win a primary and then check back with the rest of us.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | February 13, 2011 6:49 PM | Report abuse

What we have learned from the comments thread is that Ron Paul supporters are delusional. Win a primary and then check back with the rest of us.
BB
Posted by: FairlingtonBlade

Correction,A RP supporter who believes he has a chance to win the GOP nomination might be delusional,I support RP,but I don't believe he will win. That doesn't mean he isn't right about some things. Am I delusional to believe that he is correct about our monetary policy?

Posted by: rcaruth | February 13, 2011 7:09 PM | Report abuse

"Fourth, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels gave a wonkish speech, but sure didn't seem like he understood the requirements of a presidential run (e.g., appealing to social conservatives)."

It's interesting that you seem to think that social conservatives can't walk and chew gum at the same time. Or don't you think that the fiscal cliff this nation is going off matters to them?

Maybe some of them are beginning to realize that outlawing abortion won't mean a thing if the dollar is worth 2 cents and we can't afford abortions or children. I certainly hope they are smarter than you give them credit for.

Posted by: IndypendentIn09 | February 13, 2011 10:55 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | February 13, 2011 6:49 PM

What we have learned from the comments thread is that Ron Paul supporters are delusional. Win a primary and then check back with the rest of us.

_____________________________

Before or after he sells his soul to US corporate interests and AIPAC?

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 14, 2011 1:06 AM | Report abuse

FairlingtonBlade

Those who think people support Ron Paul because of some kind of idol worship are delusional. When in fact it is because his positions are derived from solid economic science. If Obama took RP's platform and actually followed through on it, then I would get his name tattooed on my lower back.

Shingo1

Any corporate entity or special interest who gave RP money for special privileges would be wasting their money.

rcaruth

Jennifer and her ilk can do what ever they like as long as they feel their positions can stand a real, and I mean a REAL, debate. I do find it childish though if people vote for more destruction of wealth just to spite somebody ;)

Posted by: aaronburrismyhero | February 14, 2011 3:09 AM | Report abuse

At this point, the truth is Obama has basically been sidelined by the King of Saudi Arabia and the other Arab leaders.

Those leaders have determined that Obama does not understand the Middle East and is incapable of leading properly.


Obama has been assigned LAMEDUCK status by the Arab leaders - and those leaders are now waiting-out until a new President is elected.

It is embarassing for this to happen.

What is astonishing is a major party in the only remaining Superpower on Earth is unable and unwilling to advance a leader who is qualified and able to lead properly. There has been a decision made: AMERICA'S ALLIES WILL LEAD THE FREEWORLD UNTIL OBAMA IS GONE. Case Closed.


.

Posted by: AllSpendingMustBeCut | February 14, 2011 7:19 AM | Report abuse

ASTONISHING BREAKING NEWS

From the Times of London last week:

"Saudi Arabia has threatened to prop up President Mubarak if the White House tries to force a swift change of regime in Egypt. In a testy personal telephone call on January 29, King Abdullah told President Obama not to humiliate Mr Mubarak and warned that he would step in to bankroll Egypt if the US withdrew its aid programme, worth $1.5 billion annually. America’s closest ally in the Gulf made clear that the Egyptian President must be allowed to stay on to oversee the transition towards peaceful democracy and then leave with dignity. “Mubarak and King Abdullah are not just allies, they are close friends, and the King is not about to see his friend cast aside and humiliated,” a senior source in the Saudi capital told The Times. Two sources confirmed details of the King’s call"


______________


It was ONLY when Obama realized that if he messed up there would be domestic political implications did he change his tune.

The liberals have imposed on this nation an UNQUALIFIED AND INEXPERIENCED THICK-EGO of a person who is a DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN.

Obama may have averted a major disaster this time. However, the country keeps getting closer and closer to Obama making a major mistake.

This time, by encouraging the protestors who were aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood, Obama almost caused ANOTHER WAR in the Middle East.

If Obama continued down that road, the Muslim Brotherhood would have taken over the Egyptian goverenment, and who knows how many other countries in the Middle East. This surely would have caused another war - either during Obama's term or soon after.

Obama should resign immediately. If this nation had a Board of Directors, Obama would have been FIRED last year.

Posted by: AllSpendingMustBeCut | February 14, 2011 7:21 AM | Report abuse

ASTONISHING BREAKING NEWS

From the Times of London last week:

"Saudi Arabia has threatened to prop up President Mubarak if the White House tries to force a swift change of regime in Egypt. In a testy personal telephone call on January 29, King Abdullah told President Obama not to humiliate Mr Mubarak and warned that he would step in to bankroll Egypt if the US withdrew its aid programme, worth $1.5 billion annually. America’s closest ally in the Gulf made clear that the Egyptian President must be allowed to stay on to oversee the transition towards peaceful democracy and then leave with dignity. “Mubarak and King Abdullah are not just allies, they are close friends, and the King is not about to see his friend cast aside and humiliated,” a senior source in the Saudi capital told The Times. Two sources confirmed details of the King’s call"


______________


It was ONLY when Obama realized that if he messed up there would be domestic political implications did he change his tune.

The liberals have imposed on this nation an UNQUALIFIED AND INEXPERIENCED THICK-EGO of a person who is a DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN.

Obama may have averted a major disaster this time. However, the country keeps getting closer and closer to Obama making a major mistake.

This time, by encouraging the protestors who were aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood, Obama almost caused ANOTHER WAR in the Middle East.

If Obama continued down that road, the Muslim Brotherhood would have taken over the Egyptian goverenment, and who knows how many other countries in the Middle East. This surely would have caused another war - either during Obama's term or soon after.

Obama should resign immediately. If this nation had a Board of Directors, Obama would have been FIRED last year.

Posted by: AllSpendingMustBeCut | February 14, 2011 7:25 AM | Report abuse

The only thing missing from this circus is a ringmaster.

Posted by: willandjansdad1 | February 14, 2011 7:40 AM | Report abuse

It is hard to understand how you can say that Sarah Palin is 'out of the picture'. All recent scientfic polls show her among the top three contenders, and this is in spite of the fact that she continues to be at the receiving end of the most vile assaults on her character, intelligence and competence.

Posted by: genecarr100 | February 14, 2011 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Jennifer - On what do you base your statement that Palin is out of the picture? I hope you are right but I fear you are engaging in wishful thinking.

Posted by: Baltesq | February 14, 2011 9:08 AM | Report abuse

We learned the the right wingers really are nuts, coulter still looks like Trigger and michelle bachman is starting to look like an old hooker.

Posted by: calif-joe | February 14, 2011 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Mitch Daniels is my candidate. More than any other who spoke, this man "gets it."

Yes, foreign policy is something that obviously needs addressed -- and not as mere afterthought. But we have a genuinely existential threat facing us, and it's more dangerous than any foreign enemy.

He can delegate the foreign policy heavy lifting. We need him to right our fiscal ship or this ship will surely sink.

Posted by: ContrarianLibertarian | February 14, 2011 9:45 AM | Report abuse

To suggest that Gov. Palin is "out of the picture" is completely irresponsible journalism. Whether you like her or dislike her; whether you want her to run or desperately hope she doesn't; is irrelevant. She is running for President, and it couldn't be more obvious. And she will be the front-runner from the start. It's expected when liberal pundits can't shake their biases. It's sad when it happens to conservatives.

Posted by: flaggman | February 14, 2011 10:52 AM | Report abuse

"The only thing missing from this circus is a ringmaster."

Thanks willandjansdad1 for allowing me an opening to change threads. Don't look now(!), but the circus that was Robert Gibb's press briefings has left town. Coming is Jay's Carneyval! Hurry and get that seat midway down the aisle.

Posted by: aardunza | February 14, 2011 12:48 PM | Report abuse

this comment Jennifer baby is so revealing ... Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) won the poll (in which a third of the delegates participated),

what am i to take from this ...

Just wondering ... 24% of the REGISTERED voter voted for your stud REGAN ... 24% of teh registered voters not 24% of the AMERICAN PEOPLE ...

this is our system ... WE DO NOT HAVE FULL PARTICIPATION ...

good lord ... as if your comment was to tell us something other than we live in the

LAND OF FALSE CHOICES
so OF COURSE ... we are not getting teh will of the AMERICAN PEOPLE but the will of the REGISTERED VOTERS who are presented FALSE CHOICES FROM WHICH TO VOTE by the
ESTABLISHMENT ...

lets open it up ... no more former RNC DNC chairs picking who gets to attend the debates and frame the national platforms ...
good lord you captured soul.

Posted by: AmericanSpirit | February 14, 2011 4:19 PM | Report abuse

this comment Jennifer baby is so revealing ... Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) won the poll (in which a third of the delegates participated),

what am i to take from this ...

Just wondering ... 24% of the REGISTERED voter voted for your stud REGAN ... 24% of teh registered voters not 24% of the AMERICAN PEOPLE ...

this is our system ... WE DO NOT HAVE FULL PARTICIPATION ...

good lord ... as if your comment was to tell us something other than we live in the

LAND OF FALSE CHOICES
so OF COURSE ... we are not getting teh will of the AMERICAN PEOPLE but the will of the REGISTERED VOTERS who are presented FALSE CHOICES FROM WHICH TO VOTE by the
ESTABLISHMENT ...

lets open it up ... no more former RNC DNC chairs picking who gets to attend the debates and frame the national platforms ...
good lord you captured soul.

Posted by: AmericanSpirit | February 14, 2011 4:21 PM | Report abuse

this comment Jennifer baby is so revealing ... Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) won the poll (in which a third of the delegates participated),

what am i to take from this ...

Just wondering ... 24% of the REGISTERED voter voted for your stud REGAN ... 24% of teh registered voters not 24% of the AMERICAN PEOPLE ...

this is our system ... WE DO NOT HAVE FULL PARTICIPATION ...

good lord ... as if your comment was to tell us something other than we live in the

LAND OF FALSE CHOICES
so OF COURSE ... we are not getting teh will of the AMERICAN PEOPLE but the will of the REGISTERED VOTERS who are presented FALSE CHOICES FROM WHICH TO VOTE by the
ESTABLISHMENT ...

lets open it up ... no more former RNC DNC chairs picking who gets to attend the debates and frame the national platforms ...
good lord you captured soul.

Posted by: AmericanSpirit | February 14, 2011 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Chris Christie did not come in third. Former NM governor Gary Johnson did. Why does nobody even want to acknowledge him?

Daniels speech was not dismissive of social conservatives, but was focused on economic and fiscal issues. We should credit him for being able to establish a theme and stick to it. It was refreshing not to be pandered to.

Perhaps he figured that, since his was an after dinner speech, the audience had already consumed their fill of red meat.

Posted by: milkchaser | February 14, 2011 11:38 PM | Report abuse

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