Sunday, March 1, 2015

CPAC Results Skewed Libertarian; Money Remains Key Factor

Another year. Another CPAC.

Nothing has really changed. The conference is dominated by "twenty-somethings," bright eyed, bushy tailed and utterly clueless on what it takes to win an election.

Let's begin with their hero, Rand Paul. Paul is "a collection of insights derived from father Ron and John Stossell." Ideas with no clear path on how to implement them.

Austerity measures are fine; as long as we are only talking about those not receiving any sort of entitlement from Uncle Sam. Discussion about abolishing the Federal Reserve has merit. But, with most mainstreamers, it's confusing if not baffling. Isolationism will always have proponents. Unfortunately for Paul, the opposition has deep pockets!

A Paul versus Clinton general election, would probably be a repeat of Goldwater-Johnson. Of course, these "twenty-somethings" were not around in '64. They didn't witness the scare tactics employed by LBJ's clever team. Hillary would take a page from the past, use her massive war chest and scare the socks off much of America. The sad aspect is Rand could be a great future Presidential candidate! It's a timing thing.

Paul's dilemma equates with choosing between running for President or running for Senate re-election. The latter would be a slam dunk victory. The former would most likely cost Republicans a Senate seat that they could not afford to lose. True, Rand is challenging this Kentucky law. He even has solicited the help of Hal Heiner and other hopefuls who aspire to be the next Kentucky governor. Standing in his way however, is Kentucky Secretary of State, Alison Lundergan Grimes who deeply covets that Senate seat for herself.

Ted Cruz made as good of a speech as can be made. He unquestionably has the pulse of the Tea Party. His words ring true: It has become the "people versus Washington." Yet, outside of shutting the government down, I haven't heard of a long lasting strategy to bring about necessary reform. Maybe it's because there isn't a long lasting strategy on the table.

Ironically, Paul could lay the groundwork for such a plan. But it would require patience on his part. Run for President in '16 and hope for the best. Or, return for a second senate term and sponsor a term limits amendment to the constitution. True, it would royally "piss off" the old guard! Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Thad Cochran and others would call Rand "everything but a white man!" Yet, this action must be done. We have seen how quick the old guard was to compromise conservatives with the DHS issue!

It's probable that Congressional and Senate leadership would not allow a floor vote on a term limits measure. But, Paul would have proven his point: Only through a constitutional convention or a Convention of States can corrective measures be adopted. At that point, Kentucky's now Junior Senator would be ready to run for President. Preferably after winning the Kentucky Governors mansion in '23.

Meanwhile, we must deal with 2016 and winning the general election. I think it's safe to say that ANY Republican would be preferable to Hillary Clinton. Yet, it appears that many staunch conservatives would opt to stay home if Jeb Bush were the choice. Amid some "boos" the former Florida Governor's responses to Sean Hannity's questions bordered on impressive. Yet, Jeb is clearly enamored with immigrants. He has expressed truisms that many long time Americans consider antagonistic. His support for "top down" education, albeit from the state and not federal level, is a deal breaker for many. His immigration position isn't too far from his brothers.

Marco Rubio would be an intriguing option and he truly had his game face on this past Friday. But can he (a) secure the necessary financial support if Jeb Bush chooses to run and (b) can he overcome the same liability haunting both Cruz and Paul: "Junior Senator with no Executive experience."

Scott Walker encountered a bump but was impressive overall at CPAC. He is seen as "the answer" in a lot of GOP circles. He is a Governor who has stood up to major Democrat constituencies. He is plain spoken, appealing to Nascar Dads. He has Executive experience and has a solid record of accomplishment in a "deep blue state." His anti-union stance is polarizing, but refreshing.

Rick Perry gave another fiery speech, reminding CPAC members both of the landscape of a troubled world and his own accomplishments while serving as governor of Texas. In truth nobody would have expected a question about the environment at a CPAC convention. But it served Perry well as he recounted surprisingly solid improvements in CO2 levels, ozone levels and more.

A conservative political action committee conference is probably not the place to discuss "building new constituencies or broadening the tent." But it should be! A successful convention amounts to leaving with a true plan of securing general election victory. Those backers of Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have neither.

Scott Walker supporters see him as the anti-Washington, anti-establishment voice of forgotten America. But, can Walker secure 40% of America's Hispanic vote? Furthermore, can he win his home state? Wisconsin has not gone "red" since 1984. No president has ever been elected when not carrying his home state.

Marco Rubio would obviously attract Hispanics. His ideas are fresh and pertinent. His views on foreign affairs "click" with defense contractors. Friday he let it be known that he did not want to spend a lifetime in politics.

Rick Perry is expected to run. He will be accompanied by a record that surpasses all suitors. But, can he get the necessary attention. Will his failed 2012 campaign haunt him? Money won't be a problem for the former Texas Governor. Outside of Jeb Bush, no other candidate will be better financed. For Perry, it's a simple matter of convincing Republican voters that he is electable. His stalwarts will argue that he is the only candidate who can appeal to Establishment, attract Tea Partiers, and mobilize Evangelicals.

While emotion may have ruled at CPAC, Republican strategists are quietly determining what it will take to secure the necessary 270 electoral votes. This translates into "how to win Florida, Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, New Mexico, Iowa and Nevada." In most cases the "bottom of the ticket" may be the difference.

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