FF’s Live Coverage of CPAC

February 12th, 2011 at 7:25 pm | 47 Comments |

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Follow FrumForum‘s up to the minute team coverage of CPAC.  Check back for all the latest news and gossip from this year’s convention.

If you are attending CPAC 2011, please share your stories, thoughts and pictures with us.  Email us at editor@frumforum.com.

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Noah Kristula-Green reports on Rep. Allen West’s keynote address:

When Rep. Allen West was announced as the CPAC keynote speaker, it was fair to say that many people were not sure what to expect from the freshman congressman. As David Keene admitted in his introduction, before Allen West spoke the first time at CPAC several years ago, “he hadn’t heard of him.”

If there were any concerns that West was not up to the challenge of a strong keynote speech, they evaporated as soon as he began speaking. He opened with an acknowledgment to the crowd for their role in the conservative movement: “Thanks to you, we have a GOP House majority”, and in the first of many firm remarks: “You have endured hostile attacks from the liberal left, such as being called racist; perhaps they should see who is standing here as your keynote speaker”. His reference to being called “Worst Person in the World” multiple times only bolstered his credibility.

He very quickly developed an emotional connection with the audience, stating that despite predictions of his vulnerability from the Cook Political Report and Politico, that “standing here in front of your, I don’t feel so vulnerable”

The theme of the speech was how the nation was on the verge of what West coined a ‘New America’: “I believe we are standing on the dawn of a verge of a new America, if we adhere to those fundamental conservative principles.” This would of course be in opposition to liberalism: “liberal progressivism evolved after our constitution. It has repeatedly failed all over the world, so why do we think it could be successful here in the United States of America.”

He started his three pronged speech with governance (or as he termed it: “Effective Constitutional Government”) and gave many policy proposals that the audience applauded at loudly, plans to cut $100 billion from the federal budget, plans to cut the EPA, and warnings about a coming White House plan to incentivize people to buy electric cars.

On health reform, West managed to praise all the elements of Obamacare that cost money (closing the doughnut hole, banning denial of care for pre-existing conditions, adding those under 26 to parental plans) while attacking all of the features that raised money (taxes and the mandate). …

Click here to read the rest.

Posted at 7:20pm by FrumForum Editors

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Tim Mak reports on the results of the CPAC 2011 Straw Poll:

Texas Congressman Ron Paul won the CPAC presidential straw poll this afternoon gaining 30% of the vote, with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney coming in second with 23%.

Other candidates in the straw poll lagged far behind – former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin got only 3% of the vote. …

Ron Paul’s victory was expected – perhaps the most united group of attendees at the conference were young libertarians. 49% of respondents were between the ages of 18 and 25, and Paul’s Campaign for Liberty had reportedly bought 1,000 tickets for the conference.

Fiscal conservatism was the defining core belief of the vast majority of respondents. 84% said that their most important goal is to promote individual freedom and reduce the size and scope of government. Only 9% thought the most important goal was to promote traditional values. And even fewer identified as hawks – with just 6% saying that their most important goal is to secure and guarantee American safety at home and abroad, “regardless of the cost”.

Despite the overwhelming self-identification with fiscal conservatism, many respondents were pessimistic about whether Republicans in Congress would be able to fulfill some of their goals. …

Click here to read the rest.

Posted at 6:18pm by FrumForum Editors

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Rep. Allen West, the freshman Congressman from Florida and CPAC’s closing speaker, answers a FrumForum question on gay conservative group GOProud’s inclusion at CPAC, saying that he’s “for liberty for all Americans… I don’t have any problem with anyone exercising their liberty. … That’s the great thing about the United States.”


Posted at 5:11pm by Tim Mak

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Flyer found on a table outside the ballroom:

The Ron Paul coalition consists of many parts, even at CPAC…

Posted at 4:10pm by Shawn Summers

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FF‘s Noah Kristula-Green reports on former UN Ambassador John Bolton’s speech:

Bolton stressed that while “we can wish the best” for the people of Egypt and their desire for democracy, he had clear doubts about Egypt becoming a liberal state, largely because of the presence of the Muslim Brotherhood. Bolton doubted that the Muslim Brotherhood would govern as a secular organization. After all he stated, “it’s name is ‘Muslim Brotherhood.’”

Developing a theme that democracy does not always bring liberal societies, Bolton cited the historical examples of Germany in the 1930s and Hamas’ victory in the Gaza Strip. In order to avoid similar illiberal outcomes as in those cases, Bolton claimed that the Egyptian elections should only allow “real” political parties to run, not ones that use force or are terrorist groups.  He again cited the example of Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The entire conference had largely been silent on Obama’s handling of Egypt, and within the beltway, there actually has been a fair amount of consensus on the issue. Bolton’s speech gave a way for conservatives to dissent from that: “This is a critical time where we need a president who understands the priority of American national security, not someone who is worried about staying on top of the media spin cycle.”

Click here to read Noah’s full report.

Posted at 1:47pm by FrumForum Editors

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Michael Steele was absent this afternoon from his scheduled appearance on a CPAC panel about conservative inclusion. There is no word yet on why he failed to show, but Manny Rosales, who worked on Coalitions at the RNC under Steele, was there as scheduled.

Posted at 12:22pm  by Tim Mak

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Spotted at CPAC:

Posted at 10:38am by Noah Kristula-Green

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Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour was introduced by David Keene, who described him as “a guy who solves problems based on principle” and placed him in the same league as Mitch Daniels.

After a short joke about how “global warming” feels very cold, Barbour jumped in to the electoral landscape for the GOP, describing the 2010 election as “a pretty good start” and a “rejection of a leftist political philosophy.”  Barbour stressed though that the next step is “electing a Republican president next year.”

Most of the speech focused on the main GOP talking points, too much spending, too much regulation, taxes being too high, and so on. (A sample: “It took about 220 years for our government to accumulate $5 trillion in debt.   Under Obama our debt will grow by $5 trillion in less than four years!”)

Notably, several of the loudest applause lines came when Barbour talked about the work of the other Republican Governors: Mitch Daniels, Bob McDonnell, and a louder cheer when citing Chris Christie.

Is Barbour presidential material? The speeches he gives appeal to the CPAC crowd, but how will they play outside of the conference?

Posted at 10:10 by Noah Kristula-Green

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Andrew Breitbart is rambling on about how he rollerblades and cutting into Governor Barbour’s speaking time.

Posted at 9:38am by Noah Kristula-Green

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FrumForum has obtained excerpts from Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour’s speech to CPAC 2011:

Make no mistake:  the reckless policies of the Obama Administration and the left-wing Congress have brought America to a crossroads.

The Congressional Budget Office informs us this year’s deficit will hit a staggering record of $1.5 trillion.  For every $1 it spends, the federal government will have to borrow 40 cents – much of it from the Chinese government, and my generation’s children and grandchildren, that’s many of you, will be handed the bill, a gargantuan debt to pay.

In fact, CBO reports this year the federal government will spend $3.7 trillion but only take in $2.2 trillion. We don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.

Let me tell you something:  It’s a heckuva lot easier to grow your way out of a deficit than to spend your way out.

In my first four years as Governor we got rid of a huge budget shortfall because revenue went up more than 40%, without raising anybody’s taxes.  Revenue went up because we had more taxpayers with more taxable income.

But, we have to be honest.  This failure to control federal spending took place under Republicans as well as Democrats, though it’s gotten a lot worse during the last two years.

It took about 220 years for our government to accumulate $5 trillion in debt.   Under Obama our debt will grow by $5 trillion in less than four years!

Governors deal with problems, and voters have decided, from here on out, leaders should be judged not by their hopes or intentions; leaders must be judged by the results they achieve.

This fact is why President Obama has tried to sound like Ronald Reagan for the last several weeks.  Reagan would recognize this ploy as just another play from the Democrat playbook:  Fake up the middle, then run around left end.

Spending becomes investments; non-defense discretionary spending should be capped, but at a level of 27% higher than two years ago; the most job-stifling regulatory regime in history – that of Barack Obama and Carol Browner – will be “reviewed”.  The President even told Bill O’Reilly Sunday that taxes hadn’t gone up during his first two years:  What he didn’t say was the lack of a huge tax increase was solely because he couldn’t get any Republican Senators to vote for his proposal for the largest tax increase in history.

And he told us in his State of the Union address that he would push for that gigantic tax increase in this Congress.  The Gipper would have chuckled and shook his head, having seen the Left trot out this old movie many times before.

Americans have told us they want a more responsible government – one that respects the limits on government enshrined in our Constitution.  They want policies that enhance individual freedom, not expand government control.  They believe in personal responsibility, not government dependency.

If Republicans are not faithful to these principles, we’ll be defeated as quickly as the Democrats – and we’ll deserve to be.

Posted at 9:25am by Tim Mak

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CPAC 2011 Day 2: Friday, February 11

There was only one panel which I knew had to be on my absolute “must visit” list for CPAC: the preview for the Atlas Shrugged movie. While I have written pieces that have strongly condemned Ayn Rand and her books I won’t deny that I went through an Objectivist “phase” in late high school, and that while I grew out of this, I was still excited to learn that a movie was finally being made of the book. Would it be an epic masterpiece? Or a ghastly train wreck?

Here is the now publicly released trailer. My verdict? While the film has a small budget and a cast of largely unknowns, it’s clearly been made as a labor of love and fans of the book will be happy to see the novel fully realized on the screen.

People who are not fans of the movie may not be as eager to buy in. One friend of mine who hasn’t read the book commented, “who still rides trains in this country anyway?”

The book doesn’t lend itself to be adapted easily. It’s long, the dialogue is melodramatic, and the characters are notoriously one dimensional (you know if a character is a hero by the shape and strength of their jaw-line).

The preview for the movie included the trailer, as well as fifteen minutes of footage from the film. The movie has been modernized with the set up for the plot being “ripped from the headlines.” The movie is now set in the near future of 2016. A combination of financial crises and political instability have made air travel either unaffordable or too dangerous, which means that the country has become dependent on its rail network for freight and commercial transportation.

The film did not have a very big budget, but the production seemed to effectively capture the scale of some parts of the movie, what little we saw gave a sense of grand scope and large sets. There is nothing to indicate that this was all shot on a soundstage.

The acting is harder to judge. While the actors are unknown they inhabit their roles with sincerity and believability. We will of course wait the final product, but based on the footage we saw, there is no reason to think that Taylor Schilling or Grant Bowler can’t be a believable Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden.

The dialogue is largely lifted from the book so it has the same strengths and weaknesses of the original text. This means there is a pattern of very dramatic statements and declarations from the hero characters, followed by weak willed lines from everyone else:

“They say your only goal is to make money.”

“My only goal IS to make money”

“Yeah but you shouldn’t say it”

Executive producer Harmon Kaslow was on the panel and spoke about the challenges facing the film. The film currently has no distributor and won’t have a traditional Hollywood advertising campaign. They will be partnering with the activist organization Freedomworks in order to help promote the movie with a grassroots campaign and through the use of social media. The hope is that the film can emulate the model of independent films such as My Big Fat Greek Wedding or The Passion of the Christ, which had small budgets and little advertising, but which made money off the many fans who saw the films.

Despite this admittedly epic challenge, there might not be a better time to release the movie, with Rand’s idea and novels discussed in popular culture and politics and with the book being popular among many Tea Party activists.

During the Q&A, I asked two questions. First, how they planned to tackle the larger monologue of dialogue that Rand is infamous for. Kaslow said that the larger speeches are in sections 2 and 3 of the book, and that while they had not started tackling those speeches, they intended to use Rand’s words wherever possible. I also asked how they felt about holding the event at CPAC given the history of conservatives writing Rand out of the movement.

Matt Kibbe, the President of Freedomworks said simply: “We think it’s awesome that we’re here”. Edward Hudgins of the Atlas Society also spoke, and explained that while there may have been disagreements in the past, that it is better to work together if two organizations can agree on 80% or 75% of the issues — a sign of a more pragmatic but also more effective attitude from the historically more hardline fans of Rand.

There were some technical difficulties during the presentation, the audio cable that they were using was unable to transfer the sound from the laptop to the projector, so they had to find someone in the hotel who could fix it. Since this was an audience full of fans of the book, it was appropriate that someone responded to this breakdown of technology with a declaration of: Who is John Galt?

And if the movie is a success? They aim to release Part 2 in September of 2012.

Posted at 11:05pm by Noah Kristula-Green

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David Frum and Dan Choi at the Lobby Bar:


FrumForum‘s youngest intern gets some target practice at the NRA booth.

Posted at 10:35 by Noah Kristula-Green

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Ronald Reagan cake!

Posted at 8:16pm by Tim Mak

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A view of the Ronald Reagan banquet from bloggers’ row:

Posted at 7:21pm by Rachel Ryan

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Ron Paul took the stage in a ballroom filled to capacity with hooting and hollering fans.  Within five minutes of his speech, it became increasingly difficult to determine who was more rowdy, the crowd or the speaker himself.  While the audience seemed to simultaneously boo and cheer, Ron Paul addressed predictable issues ranging from the Federal Reserve being at fault for today’s recession, to unnecessary military spending.

“I don’t think a person in this room would vote to cut defense spending, but… military spending and defense spending are not the same thing!” He went on to indignantly proclaim that the downfall of the Soviet Union was not its inability to compete with the United States, but it’s inability to maintain forces and control in Afghanistan… which – according to Paul – is all the more reason and proof that our troops and “your money” should be out of Afghanistan.

Paul also advised that we stay out of Egypt, if for no other reason than “propping up these foreign dictators” ultimately results in millions of dollars of tax payer money being transferred to Swiss bank accounts.

Similar to the rest of today’s speakers, Paul talked extensively about the “exceptional” American nation and its founding principles.  He also cautioned that these founding principles, intended by our founders to safeguard “freedom and liberty,” were slipping from our hands.

Given their past behavior during the conference, it’s not surprising that the audience’s libertarian constituency could barely contain itself during the speech, jumping up to scream, chant, and wave campaign posters every time Paul stopped to catch a breath.

The room erupts in a rowdy cheer as Ron Paul takes the podium:

Posted at 4:40pm by Rachel Ryan

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In a speech today at CPAC, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty delivered a speech with something for everyone – but that mostly echoed themes already repeated at the conference.

“We should not raise the debt ceiling. We should pass a constitutional amendment to finally balance the budget,” said Pawlenty, repeating a popular idea at the conference. Further, Pawlenty added, ”Lets throw the tax code overboard.”

Pawlenty suggested that Congressmen be mandated to do their own taxes, without the help of tax preparers or accountants.

Of course, no speech at CPAC would be complete without criticism for the recent Obama-Reagan comparisons in the media. “Can you believe that?” asked Pawlenty, “Ronald Reagan knew how to stare down our enemies, and Ronald Reagan understood the price of freedom.”

But who, then, is Barack Obama like? Pawlenty had the answer: ”He’s proven that someone can deserve a Nobel Prize less than Al Gore… Ladies and Gentleman, Barack Obama is not behaving like Ronald Reagan. He’s behaving like Jimmy Carter!”

His evidence? “The individual mandate is a page straight out of the Jimmy Carter playbook,” said Pawlenty. Of course, potential 2012 presidential contender Mitt Romney – who passed a health care reform bill in Massachusetts that included an individual mandate – also spoke today.

Pawlenty’s speech also slammed any comparisons between the United States and other countries. “Just because we followed Greece into democracy does not mean that we need to follow them into bankruptcy!” said the governor.

He said that many expected China to be more successful than the United States in 20 years, but then slammed that notion. ”No way. No how. Not the America we know, and not the America we love. America’s rightful place is not lagging behind China. America’s place is leading the world.”

“We need to restore American confidence, we need to restore American optimism… by restoring American common sense… we as a nation need to turn towards God, not away from God,” said Pawlenty.

Pawlenty, unlike some of the other speakers today, spent significant time talking about foreign affairs. He asserted the need for America to vigorously promote its interests abroad and stand up to what he called “bullies” in the Middle East and elsewhere. Several attendees started to boo or cheer, stopping the speech with a gradually increasing chant of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” Though there was no serious heckling, one side of the room gave the rest of his remarks a cool reception.

Posted at 3:45pm by Tim Mak and Shawn Summers

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Pawlenty’s God-talk (“We need to remember our national motto: In God We Trust”; “We need to turn toward God, not away from God) sticks out primarily because it’s otherwise been very absent at this year’s CPAC. Some of the speakers I’ve seen today have paid lip service to social conservatism, but without much specific content. ”None” is the fastest-growing religion in the United States, and the GOP needs to figure out a way to articulate a social conservatism that doesn’t treat atheists and agnostics like unpatriotic, second-class citizens.

For all the anti-GOProud talk about respecting all three legs of the conservative stool in the past week, this conference has been almost exclusively economic. For example, I haven’t heard a single word from a single speaker all day about Egypt. With half the room agreeing with Glenn Beck that the Egyptian revolution (we can call it that now, right?) is a plot by a nefarious alliance of leftists and Islamists, any comment would probably start a riot. TPaw came close just now by saying that the US needs to aggressively promote its interests abroad. Based on who’s clapping and who’s booing, the Paulite hecklers seem to be concentrated on the stage right side of the room. It’s worse than the State of the Union.

Posted at 3:40pm by Shawn Summers

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A questioner on the CPAC floor asks, “How can we trust you” given your support for TARP? The crowd erupts at the question.

“I feel badly I did vote for it… [but] you are not sitting there, having to make those decisions,” Sen. Hatch tells the crowd.

Hatch says he’s sorry to have voted for TARP – “I probably made a mistake voting for it” – but defends the controversial program. He says that a Republican Treasury Secretary convinced him that not voting for it would have resulted in a depression, something he still believes.

Posted at 2:58pm by Tim Mak

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Lew Uhler takes a stab at unruly Ron Paul fans in audience who booed Sen. Orrin Hatch: “the difference between the mob and the street is civility.”

A few of Paul supporters even stood up, put on their jackets, and walked out.

Posted at 2:57pm by Rachel Ryan

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The room got ugly during a panel with Orrin Hatch, after a questioner asked how they can trust Hatch’s pledge of fiscal conservatism after his vote for TARP in 2008. Hatch avers on TARP, saying that under the circumstances he did what he thought was right, and would vote again to save the US from a depression. Puzzlingly, he also apologized for supporting it amid heckling from the crowd and shouts of “you’re done”. Hatch told hecklers they could have their opinion, but “you weren’t the one there making the decisions”. The presenter got up to the microphone and starting harassing the hecklers, saying that there’s no more dedicated conservative than Orrin Hatch. Some booing, mostly drowned out by cheers. Even in 2011, there are still deep fissures between the Tea Party/Paulite and establishment wings of the conservative movement. At CPAC the last two years, they’ve been just under the surface.

Posted at 2:56pm by Shawn Summers

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Yalies!  L. Max Jacobson, Justin Petrillo, Camila Yadeau

Kathleen McCaffrey, Robert Stacy McCain and Michele Walk of politicizer.com

Posted at 2:40pm by FrumForum Editors

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The Rent is Too Damn High Party’s Jimmy McMillan barged into CPAC’s Blogger’s Row, holding his shoe up to “express solidarity” with the protesters in Egypt.

“What are your concrete plans?” this reporter asked, only to have the question ignored.

Saul Anuzis, the Republican National Committeeman from Michigan, stepped in put McMillan in his place. “It’s the louder you are, the more people pay attention, right?

Posted at 2:21pm by Tim Mak

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Jimmy McMillan, clad in black leather gloves and sporting his trademark white friendly mutton chops, also held court in the main lobby. He was surrounded by students and cameras telling everyone about how the “Rent Is Too Damn High.” When a girl asked if he supported price controls, he replied, “well, you’ve got to control something” and then started ranting about how Fannie and Freddie were allowed to lose $800 billion and get away with it. Clearly, he knows how to throw the sharks a talking point or two from the CPAC chum bucket. He also explained that if mothers could afford to feed their kids three healthy meals a day, there wouldn’t be an obesity problem. Why can’t they afford to? Because THE RENT IS TOO DAMN HIGH!

The crowd was laughing at him at first, but the truth is that McMillan knows how to work an audience, and by the time he was done most of the room was impressed. He’s a great speaker, and you can never tell just how much he’s in on the joke.

Posted at 2:20pm by Shawn Summers

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There is somewhere a portrait of Ralph Reed aging.

Posted at 2:14pm by FrumForum Editors

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Recognizing that he lacks a national profile, Sen. John Thune began his speech by joking that unlike other Presidential contenders “I don’t have a reality show”, unless of course, you count the Senate hearings on C-Span.

A friend of mine has joked that John Thune gets so much traction in some elite Republican circles because he is the definition of a “Generic Republican”.

And it was a very generic speech, he argued against the talk of a new tone in Washington. Lines are largely identical to other speeches at the conference: there is too much spending, the administration needs to “tell it like it is” on foreign policy, and that “we don’t need to fundamentally transform America, we need to stay true to who we are” adding “we don’t need a new foundation, our old foundation works just fine.” He even includes the obligatory Regan reference.

Other lines that could be from any other speech include “Congress is the People’s House” and “It’s time to pass a balanced budget amendment.”

However, this sort of down the line regurgitation of every conservative talking point is often brought up as the very reason why Thune is so attractive as a VP candidate. It’s like the Cliffs Notes version of how to make a conservative speech: “Lets stand with those who defend freedom, and let’s stand up to our enemies.”

The one line he gave which got the most enthusiastic and genuine response was when he said terrorists needed to be tried in military tribunals.

While he was able to get a standing ovation at the end, it’s not clear how well a speech like this can do among an audience that doesn’t already buy into it.

Posted at 2pm by Noah Kristula-Green

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FF‘s Tim Mak obtains an advance copy of Sen. John Thune’s CPAC speech.  Tim writes:

The potential 2012 presidential candidate will admit his shortcomings, noting that “it’s fair to say that I don’t have the same national name recognition of some of my more famous Republican colleagues.” He details his roots – from his grandfather’s journey from Norway to America, to Senator from South Dakota.

But he excoriates President Obama on a whole host of issues …

On foreign policy, Thune claims that Obama has been ignorant of the threats. “The only thing more alarming than these threats is the President’s weak response. We can’t win the peace with apologies and reset buttons and deep cuts to our national defense. And we can’t win the peace if we don’t tell it like it is: an act of terrorism is, just that, terrorism. Calling it a ‘man-caused disaster doesn’t change the gravity of the threat,” the Senator is expected to say.

Click here to read the rest.

Posted at 1:40pm by Tim Mak

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From an impromptu Q&A session with Rent Too Damn High candidate Jimmy McMillan:

Question: Do you support the Muslim brotherhood?

McMillan: I support the kids who need a roof. Over their head

Question: Do you support Ron Paul?

McMillan: Does Ron Paul support me?

Posted at 1:44pm by Noah Kristula-Green

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The head of the Rent is Too Damn High Party makes an appearance at bloggers’ row.

Posted at 1:31pm by Tim Mak

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How some CPAC attendees view GOProud:

Posted at 12:22pm by Noah Kristula-Green

* * *

Ed Morrissey, last year’s winner of the CPAC Blogger of the Year Award, was just onstage to present this year’s prize to Javier Manjerras of the Florida political blog “The Shark Tank.” Morrissey introduced Manjerras as “a taller, thinner, and tanner Marco Rubio” and “the tip of the spear” of the conservative Hispanic blogosphere.

In his acceptance speech, a smiling Manjerras thanked Rush and Erick Erickson for inspiration. He spoke briefly about illegal immigration, calling it among other things a potential vulnerability to Islamic terrorism. He then called out what he termed “PC, peaceful” Muslims, “some even in this room”, for not addressing Islamic fundamentalism in their communities. He said that “sympathizers” are just as guilty as the person who straps a bomb to his chest. He pointed a finger out at the camera, intoning “you will be held accountable.” Muted, nervous applause.

Posted at 12:15pm by Shawn Summers

* * *

Overheard at John Birch Society Booth: “Nancy Reagan was a homosexualist.”

Posted at 11:47am by Noah Kristula-Green

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Signs of the Times: Copies of Atlas Shrugged in the exhibit area

Posted at 11:33am by Noah Kristula-Green

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FF‘s Noah Kristula-Green reports on Mitt Romney’s address to CPAC.  After being introduced by Ann Romney, Mitt starts the speech with a series of zingers:

Romney coyly suggests that Obama’s State of the Union speech “sounded like my CPAC speech from last year” because launching into his main line of attack. One characterized by some rather dull one-liners:

“What we’re watching is not Brave New World, its Groundhog Day.”

Romney on Obama’s response to unemployment: “It could be worse? What’s next, let them eat cake? Excuse me, let them eat organic cake?”

Romney on Obama’s rate of job loss: It is “One inconvenient truth that will haunt this President.”

On the Afghan withdrawal timeline: “The Taliban may not have a sophisticated air force or drones, but they have a calendar.”

However, when Romney made his pivot to the issue of unemployment, he touched on a theme that frankly gets ignored by many Republican headliners. In one of the better lines of the speech: “Liberals should be ashamed that their policies have failed these good and decent Americans.”

Click here to read the rest.

Posted at 11:04am by FrumForum Editors

* * *

Former Gov. Gary Johnson is a libertarian Republican like Ron Paul, but unlike Paul his style of governing is characterized less by crazy rants against the Fed and the Supreme Court, and with a more down to earth focus on issues related to governing.

When he gave a speech early this morning at 9:30am, he focused on his record of governing and the vetoes he made of spending bills.

And where do the applause lines come from? “Legalizing marijuana” gets a very enthusiastic response, in addition to calls to repeal the Bush administration’s medicare entitlement: “We should repeal President Obama’s healthcare but how about if Republicans offer a repeal of the prescription drug care benefit that they passed?”

People who listened closely to the speech may have noticed that while he claimed he was speaking about illegal immigration, the issue he cited — of high skilled immigrations returning to their home country after going to college in the states — is actually a problem related to legal immigration. It’s telling also that Johnson stressed that his solution to immigration did not invoke building a wall or putting more troops on the border.

A slightly heterodox line: “I’m glad Google is an American business and not a Russian business.”  But aside from these lines, it’s a speech that won’t get too much traction. The real libertarian show begins at 3pm when Ron Paul takes the stage.

Posted at 10:01am by Noah Kristula-Green

* * *

CPAC 2011 Day 1: Thursday, February 10


Former Vice-President Dick Cheney made a surprise appearance at CPAC this year to present Bush administration Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with the “Defender of the Constitution” award.  But before they spoke, both had to deal with a crowd of pro-Ron Paul, anti-war libertarians. Noah Kristula-Green writes:

Someone at CPAC thought it would be a good idea to book Donald Rumsfeld to receive his “defender of the Constitution” award right after Rand Paul spoke, filling the room up with anti-war libertarians.

This means that mentions of Rumsfeld’s name by the introductory speakers are generating boos and jeers from the audience.

However, there are enough people to applaud and cheer for Rumsfeld that his actual introduction doesn’t seem too lob-sided, although there is also a trail of libertarian activists leaving the room in a line.

Click here to read the rest.

Posted at 5:17pm by FrumForumEditors

* * *

FrumForum’s youngest intern takes a stand:

“Tick Tock Barack” counts down to the next inauguration:

FrumForum’s Tim Mak takes a break from scooping stories at CPAC:

Posted at 5:00pm by FrumForum Editors

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Noah Kristula-Green reports from this year’s surprise CPAC speech from Donald Trump:

One thing’s certain about Trump: this is not a typical CPAC speech.

How do you get the entire audience up to their feet?  Trump says:  “We need a good candidate for President.”

A random audience member shouts out: “Ron Paul!”

Trump pulls no punches with the crowd and levels with them, replying that Ron Paul can’t get elected.

The audience goes extreme. A Mix of boos, cheers, jeers, and shouts of “You’re fired!”

Click here to read the rest.

Posted at 4:00pm by FrumForum Editors

* * *


Wayne LaPierre, the head of the NRA: “Our own policies [gun-free zones] give more protection to the killers than the victims.”

“If Tucson tells us anything at all, it tells us this: government failed,” said LaPierre. “Even worse… Government policy is getting us killed, and imprisoning us in a terrifying world of violence.”

It gets scarier, according to the NRA head. LaPierre says there are 30,000 rapists, robbers and murderers in D.C., “right outside the doors of this hotel.”

Posted at 3:14 by Tim Mak

* * *


Sen. Rick Santorum, who garnered controversy in in 2003 when he said that the constitution did not provide a right to privacy for consenting homosexual acts, just finished a speech – to be followed with a panel on ‘Traditional Marriage and Society’, being led by the Independent Women’s Forum.

Posted at 2:28pm by Tim Mak

* * *


Unsurprisingly, Mitch McConnell’s speech earlier today focused on dismantling Obamacare.

“We will continue to fight it until Obamacare goes the way of Hillarycare!” was the rallying cry. McConnell added: “We swore an oath to uphold the constitution. According to the constitution, nobody in Washington, D.C. Has the right to force anyone to buy something against their will.”

He also pledged to hold Democrats accountable for their actions. “We will not let the people who spent the last two years trying to turn this country into France walk away from their record.”

McConnell paused during his speech to express his thanks to Sen. Jon Kyl, whom he called his “right-hand man”. The Arizona Republican today announced his plans not to run for reelection in 2012.

Posted at 1:24pm by Tim Mak

* * *


“I knew Ronald Reagan… And Barack Obama is no Ronald Reagan,” said Newt Gingrich, with the biggest applause line so far today.

Posted at 12:55pm by Tim Mak

* * *


Rep. Kristie Noem takes a different tack from Michele Bachmann – more modesty, more of an introduction than a rally.

Something of an up and comer – especially within the GOP freshmen, Noem stressed her farming roots. “I’m just a farmer,” she said. “I’m nothing special… I never in my entire life dreamed that I would be in Congress.”

And of course, she emphasized her outsider status. “A lot of us freshmen don’t have a lot of knowledge about the way DC has operated, and frankly, we don’t really care.”

That said, her speech didn’t lack some pump-up-the-crowd lines. “We took that gavel back from Nancy Pelosi,” she said, to popular applause.

Posted at 11:35am by Tim Mak

* * *


Rep Kristi Noem is now addressing the CPAC crowd.  Noem is talking about how she entered her GOP primary with just 9% name ID.

“I’m just a farmer, I’m no one special,” she says.

Posted at 11:15am by Tim Mak

* * *


Left side of the room totally empty for Bachmann’s speech. Right side packed!

Posted at 9:45am by Tim Mak

* * *


Michele Bachmann begins the first address of the day.

Audience a bit more muted than they would normally be for her.. It’s an early slot!

Posted at 9:20am by Tim Mak

*  *  *


FF is geared up and ready to cover every newsworthy moment of the conference.  Click here for your guide to the major events, speakers and parties of CPAC 2011.

Posted at 12:01am by Tim Mak

Recent Posts by FrumForum Editors

47 Comments so far ↓

  • ditka

    Looking forward to some good coverage. You guys do great work.

  • nwahs

    I’m sure the coverage will be great, but I must be getting very old. The photo of Frums editors looks like a middle school photo.

  • moderategoper

    Why does CPAC have all those empty seats? They have an entire stage with one speaker and 40 empty chairs on stage??? And then they start the entire convention with the lead speaker being a Tea Party Porker — Kristi Noem’s Ranch Received Nearly $3 Million in Federal Farm Subsidies. I guess at C-PAC you can make your own little world, like some Twilight Zone episode or something.

  • moderategoper

    We took that gavel back from Nancy Pelosi…and demanded that I get millions of Federal Farm Subsidies….so funny.

  • PracticalGirl


    Like moderategoper, I’m interested in the relative empty hall. I this a result of GOProud boycott, first day straggling in or what?

  • TerryF98

    May as well start off with the queen lunatic and let it go downhill from there.

  • UncleLew

    How sad that this dip — along with Limbaugh, Beck, Santorum and Palin — is a leader of the conservative movement.

  • lessadoabouteverything

    yeah, I am with moderategoper on this, that empty dais looks terrible, as does the half empty hall. Who the hell is running that show?
    Schedule the early morning stuff in small conference rooms so they will look packed, then schedule the big stuff for the main hall.

  • rbottoms

    Who the hell is running that show?

    Get a brain moran.

    ~ Teabagger Dipshit

    • lessadoabouteverything

      touche, that was hilarious. (yes, even though at my own expense, kind of)

  • DFL

    I wonder if the 10,000 attendee boast made by CPAC is about as honest as the 9.0% unemployment rate and the 2% inflation rate. The Establishment, right and left, are a pack of lying liars.

  • COProgressive

    McConnell at CPAC: We’ll Keep Fighting Obamacare


    Yea, sure. I can see the bumper stickers for 2012 now……

    Restore Pre-existing conditions for insurance companies!
    Vote Republican!

    Let the insurance company kick sick people out in the street!
    Vote Republican!

    Tell your kid to get his own damn health insurance!
    Vote Republican!

    Restore the Status Quo, let’s go back to doing NOthing!
    Vote Republican!

    • PracticalGirl

      Not quite the same ring to any of these as “Drill, Baby, Drill”, is there?

      My submission:

      Keep America Sick: Vote GOP in ’12

      • Smargalicious

        Interesting last line.

        So, you want to keep the current administration’s wealth re-distribution/reparations agenda for another four years?

        • TerryF98

          The top 1% now own as much as the bottom 90%. So that wealth redistribution you talk about has already happened and it all went one way. Upward.

          Trickle down economics only resulted in the majority getting pissed on from a great height.

          But hey keep believing the teahadist nonsense.

        • lessadoabouteverything

          as opposed to the last administrations wholesale wealth destruction plan, sure (3.2 trillion in lost wealth under Bush, no thanks smargy)

        • PracticalGirl

          No, smargalicious, I just want to keep the current Administration policies that are designed to help Americans stay well without going broke. If Republicans have ideas that make these laws better, so be it. But that just doesn’t seem to be their mantra anymore (since they got into a position to prove it), now, does it?

  • medinnus

    *chuckles* Oh, since they can’t actually GET anywhere on the issue, they’ll keep banging that drum to the fanatic Right Wing until 2012, and perhaps even beyond that.

    • ktward

      Indeed. All they have is the anti-Obama drum and the ever-popular culture war drum.
      Chris Hayes suspects we’ll see nothing more substantive than these from our new House, and I suspect he’s right:

      [blockquote]It‘s much harder to deliver on the economic promises.

      Those are the issues they really rode to power on, and at the end of the day, they got empowered. And what can they really do about them. They don‘t have a lot of ideas for creating jobs and they can‘t bring down the debt because the things necessary to do that are politically toxic or sort of inimical to their whole belief system.[/blockquote]


  • Nanotek

    “nwahs@I’m sure the coverage will be great, but I must be getting very old. The photo of Frums editors looks like a middle school photo.”

    ditto lol

    and I have the same feeling about FF as I did HuffPost when it started … I wish them the best

  • ScoopAway

    “”Like moderategoper, I’m interested in the relative empty hall. I this a result of GOProud boycott, first day straggling in or what?”"

    Maybe they should do what Hollywood does for the televised Oscars – hire people to sit in any empty seats.

    With what is going on in Egypt right now, they will be on the back news-burner anyway.

    • Nanotek

      “Maybe they should do what Hollywood does for the televised Oscars – hire people to sit in any empty seats. ” there’s always Kramer: Kramer – The Tony’s

      “With what is going on in Egypt right now, they will be on the back news-burner anyway.” we’re witnessing history, that seems certain … the drive for freedom plus the Internet may account for more than we gave it credit for

  • rbottoms

    I known loyal husbands, and Newt Gingrich is not a loyal husband.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    I wrote about this a few days ago and I’ll probably keep harping on it for the next year or so, until it finally becomes obvious even to the GOP “braintrust”.

    The more that GOP congresspeople focus on far-right agendas like removing reproductive rights or dismantling health care reforms or “getting rid of the EPA” and so forth — the more they make it easier for Barack Obama to get elected. If there’s one thing most Americans finally understand, it is that having one party in charge of the House, Senate and White House is a recipe for disaster. The GOP is likely to lead the first two after 2012, and people will work very hard to ensure that they don’t get a third.

    Personally, I would love a solid alternative to Obama next year. But if the GOP congress keeps acting like kooks, I won’t even consider a Republican nominee unless he is *solidly* centrist and has a reputation for being at least reasonably honest. And that rules out pretty much all of the frontrunners.

    McConnell and Bachmann might as well have “Obama/Biden 2012″ stickers on their car bumpers.

    PS McConnell cares about the Constitution? I’ve got some farmland in Antarctica for sale, if anyone buys that.

  • balconesfault

    If there’s one thing most Americans finally understand, it is that having one party in charge of the House, Senate and White House is a recipe for disaster.

    Out of curiousity – do you believe that the 111th Congress would have been less of a “disaster” had the GOP held the House or Senate?

    For example – it’s almost certain that GOP control of the House or Senate would have ensured that the Stimulus Bill would not have been passed.

    Do you really believe that our economy would be in better shape today had the Stimulus Bill not been passed?

  • talkradiosucks.com

    “Do you really believe that our economy would be in better shape today had the Stimulus Bill not been passed?”


  • balconesfault

    There we disagree then.

    I think we would have climbed towards 15% unemployment at least, the state layoffs we’re going to be seeing this year would have overlapped with massive private sector layoffs, plummeting tax revenues – one of the biggest sources of our deficit in the last couple years – would have accelerated rather than leveled off, and we probably wouldn’t have had unemployment benefit extensions as well, causing the rate of housing foreclosures to stay at early 2009 rates.

    I guess I don’t really understand what exactly you mean by “better shape”.

  • midcon

    I honestly don’t know if it would have been in better shape. I’m not sure you can make a blanket assessment. I think it would have to be a segmented assessment. For example, without government intervention, what would GM’s likely fate have been? What would have happened to those jobs and collateral industries that are supported by GM? Would a new GM have emerged as a subsidiary to someone with deep pockets? Would it have been American owned? Would there have been a lot of layoffs? Answering these kinds of questions would provide some insight into part of the economy. You would have to do the same for various other segments.

    The trouble with taking a simplistic approach and treating “THE ECONOMY” as a monolithic thing is that it is not monolithic. Currently the housing industry sucks in many places, but not in all places. Food production is stable (because of subsidies?) so that part of the economy is fine. But what about manufacturing; the financial industry; tourism; consumer goods. It’s pretty complex. So to say the stimulus did nothing or did everything is a simplistic assessment because one starts with a false model call “THE ECONOMY.”

    I believe that things like TARP did put the financial industry on better footing. I am pissed that they are getting this horrendously large bonuses instead of jail time, but the fact is, government intervention seems to have had a positive impact. In other areas, such as housing, government intervention hasn’t done diddly squat. Of course intervention there might benefit more average Americans and remember the government only operates to the benefit of the margins (the super wealthy or the horribly poor). It does nothing for average Americans and housing affects average Americans in context of the economy more than it affects the margins.

    • balconesfault

      In other areas, such as housing, government intervention hasn’t done diddly squat. Of course intervention there might benefit more average Americans and remember the government only operates to the benefit of the margins (the super wealthy or the horribly poor). It does nothing for average Americans and housing affects average Americans in context of the economy more than it affects the margins.

      Housing is a really tough thing to intervene in. Because I think that it’s not possible for government to successfully get involved in stabilizing the housing market in a limited fashion. It’s either lassiez faire, or all in.

      If you just try to do incremental measures, like they’ve done (think the first time homeowner tax credit) I think the market just works to take profits from the government measures with no real improvements for the average American. There are too many smart money men out there ready to skim a profit wherever possible who dedicate all their lives figuring how to get people to make decisions that will ultimately profit the money men far more than the homebuyer – that’s the reason that ARMs became the debacle they became.

      Personally, I think that instead of TARP the Government should have just instantly created Federal Banks with a limited charter (say, 5 years) across the country with the specific task of working on a local basis to keep loans to small businesses going so they could meet payroll, to facilitate the renegotiation of mortgages to keep people in their homes, etc. Pay the managers of theses institutions $200K/year, and let the guys on Wall Street who would bitch if their bonus was $200K take a bath. Buy down mortgages to prevent foreclosures, but take a share – for example, for an upside down loan where the homeowner wants to remain but can’t afford the balloon, negotiate down the mortgage, and then buy it, and then put a lien on the property when sold in the future so that the Government recoups some portion of their investment if the house value increases.

      There’s a lot of things we could have considered had Government not been controlled from Wall Street, which made all these propositions a non-starter. So the only recourse was to give Wall Street wheelbarrows of money. At least Obama got them to pay some back, with a few “feet to the fire” provisions. That may be the best we could hope for in today’s political situation.

  • midcon

    actually, that’s not a bad idea of fed banks with a limited charter. maybe one for each region with the authority to deal with issues that localized to that region. In one region it may be small business. In another region it could be housing.

    still as I said government tends operate on the margins and unless you are one of the margins all you really get is hosed.

  • balconesfault

    still as I said government tends operate on the margins and unless you are one of the margins all you really get is hosed.

    And where I disagree is that I believe that government sets groundrules that create conditions for those of us in the middle to prosper. The massive growth of the American middle class during the 50′s and 60′s wasn’t an accident – it was in large part a result of measures set in place during the 1930′s, including massive infrastructure investments. Did only those at the margins benefit because of Hoover Dam or the TVA or the BPA for example? Not hardly.

  • Houndentenor

    It’s aggravating that this crowd doesn’t realize that the economy would have been sucked into a black hole without the TARP program. Don’t people realize that? Yes on a small scale it would be better to let businesses fail that were poorly run. But unfortunately we have allowed our banks to merge to the point that if the big ones go under (and all but Chase were on the verge of doing so) they will take us all with them. Why don’t people understand that?

    TARP was a horrible thing to do. The only thing worse would have been not doing it. And I regret that the banks didn’t learn their lesson and would probably do it all over again since they weren’t hurt by any of it. But again, unless we are willing to break up the “too big to fail” banks, we really can’t afford for any of them to fail. The solution is simple and I don’t hear anyone saying it. Break up the too-big-to-run-their-business-properly banks.

    • pnumi2


      I agree completely. I can’t even imagine the logic by which someone can say we should have let GM go under. It boggles the mind. The employees let go. The idle factories and all the small businesses that depended on them. And everyday the 10s of millions of Americans driving by empty GM showrooms with “For Rent” signs in the windows. The increase in traffic at the Unemployment Office. Not only from GM’s white and blue collar workers but from workers from all the diners, convenience stores, banks, etc. whose receipts went off with the bankruptcy. It frightening to think where we would be if the brain dead who got us into this mess, had also been charged with getting us out of it.

  • midcon


    Sure. I’ll buy that if you update your example a tad. Hoover Dam, although magnificent, was eons ago. Got anything a bit more current to make your case? The 50′s and 60′s middle class are todays retirees. Some of them are ok, others not so. It might be a mixed bag, but I would still like to address today’s middle clase, call it the class of 2000-2010 or something close to that.

    In general government used to do what your example shows. However, in the last decade they have moved more towards the margins while the middle classs has stagnated. Many government programs have come into being for the benefit of the disenfranchised and the super enfranchised.

    • sweatyb

      In general government used to do what your example shows. However, in the last decade they have moved more towards the margins while the middle classs has stagnated. Many government programs have come into being for the benefit of the disenfranchised and the super enfranchised.

      set your clocks back to 1980 and you will see the collapse of the ideology of good governance in this country and the rise of the “government is the problem” ideology. Reagan started the war on the middle class (formulated as a war on the lazy poor) Bush I pushed and Clinton punted so that Bush II could ram it home.


      It’s no wonder that you struggle to see what big government projects have helped the middle class. The government has been intentionally kept on the sidelines of the class war for the last 30 years.

      Though I guess you could say the federal government created the internet. That’s a pretty good one, right?

  • balconesfault

    Midcon – I’ll just repeat a well written passage that Unknownone wrote in the thread on why bankers weren’t dragged out and pilloried after the market collapse:

    the federal government social safety net that was put in place after the great depression softened the fall for the average person. Unemployment insurance, medicare, medicaid and social security support a significant part of the population. These programs are defined benefits that continued to pay throughout the crisis and in the case of unemployment were extended. It’s the government doing its job.

    That’s what government has been doing that has benefitted the average person.

  • TJ Parker

    You guys need a photographer.

    CPAC looks like spring break for geeky white males.

  • balconesfault

    Can Barbour come out and tell us how terrible Big Government spending is the next time a hurricane hits the Mississippi shores?

  • rbottoms

    Hey look, a negro. How’d he get in here?

  • talkradiosucks.com

    “You guys need a photographer.”

    Heh, I said that in Rachel’s thread. My offer is still open! :)

  • chicago_guy

    Looks like the world’s biggest a__hole convention. Why not sell a t-shirt that says “Yeah, I’m a dick, and I’m proud OF it!”

  • TJ Parker

    `Why not sell a t-shirt that says “Yeah, I’m a dick, and I’m proud OF it!”’

    Isn’t that exactly the message of the Santorum 2012 T-shirt? Look, it says “Santorum 2012″ on it! Wear that in public!

  • chicago_guy

    Santorum? Hm, that word sounds familiar….what’s the exact definition of it again?

  • ktward

    1. Why is there no commentary on Daniels’s speech Friday night?

    2. Why is there no dish on Friday night’s GOProud/Breitbart party?!

  • politicalfan

    Is Frum a big social conservative? Looking at sane sign there? Just want to know the definition?

    • ktward

      Nope. Frum’s no SoCon.
      For all intents and purposes, sane and SoCon are mutually exclusive.

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