March 2, 2007

At CPAC, Focus Shifts to Congress

Marc Comtois

This week is the annual meeting of the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) in Washington, D.C. (Andrew went last year). It appears that these active conservatives, disgruntled with the current crop of Presidential candidates, are turning their eyes towards Congress:

Conservative leaders, who are gathering in Washington today for the first Conservative Political Action Conference meeting since the Republican Party's electoral defeat last year, acknowledged in interviews that it will be difficult to reclaim control of Congress. But faced with a pack of GOP presidential contenders with spotty conservative credentials, the party's fiscal and social conservatives say they are making a special effort to reclaim power on Capitol Hill to hold the next White House in line.

"For years, the party was completely president-centric, and put all their efforts into keeping the presidency," said Grover Norquist , president of Americans for Tax Reform. "But going into 2008, it's going to be equally important to pick up the House and Senate. Now, people recognize you can govern from either body," not just the White House, Norquist said.

Paul Weyrich , president of the Free Congress Foundation, said the party's top-tier presidential candidates -- including Arizona Senator John McCain, former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani , and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney -- are too liberal for many conservatives.

"If we can't play a role in the presidential [election] , then at least let's elect some senators and congressmen. Maybe we can play a role in Congress," Weyrich said.

Bill Lauderback , executive vice president of the American Conservative Union, agreed: "2008 is not just about the White House. It's about maintaining conservative principles within the public policy debate," he said.

Norquist's point about national Republicans being president-centric is also applicable here in Rhode Island. The RIGOP, if nothing else, has been a governor-centric party. Perhaps, with new leadership, this will change.

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I just see conservatives (and Weyrich) coalescing around Romney, particularly given McCain's missteps and Guiliani's woman troubles. To me, the concerns about Romney's religion seem overblown - Mormonism isn't exactly Wicca.
Personally, I think Romney's telling us his his truth now, and that he was faking the moderate funk in his Senate and gubernatorial campaigns. I don't see Willard self-destructing nearly as easily as McCain or Guiliani might - if I were putting money on the GOP nomination right now, I'd bet Romney.

Posted by: Rhody at March 2, 2007 12:16 PM

Marc, Justin, Andrew et al:

I will weigh back in on the Chairman situation tonight but wanted to pass on to you a compliment from CPAC here in the appropriate area.

John Fund, of the Wall Street Journal and I were having a conversation about RI politics and sat together looking at computers on "blogger's row" when he looked over at my page, noticed the Anchor Rising screen and said "Anchor Rising. What a great blog. Those guys do a great job with that site".

You're on John Fund's radar. Kudos from DC.


Posted by: Jon Scott at March 2, 2007 6:03 PM

Whoa. Way to go, Justin, Andrew, Marc, Don.

Posted by: SusanD at March 2, 2007 9:17 PM

I like to check out Anchor Rising and I don't necessarily mind the criticism!One thing for sure I don't conceal my identity.
I attened CPAC in 2002 and 2003.It is GREAT PLACE to actually meet and talk with people you only see on television!
Justin and others, congratulations on this blog.A great compliment from John Fund!

Posted by: Scott Bill Hirst at March 3, 2007 11:29 AM

John, Thanks for passing that along. It's always nice to get such positive feedback!

Posted by: Marc Comtois at March 3, 2007 12:14 PM
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