CPAC 2014 – “Because It’s Never Too Early to Start Campaigning for 2016”

By Dan

Conservative Political Action Conference – or CPAC; It happens every year and is pretty much exactly what you’d expect from something with that name.

It’s where conservatives, including politicians, political groups, bigotscelebrities,” and others engage in a four day long circlejerk (but no gay stuff!) and talk about how their platform of voter suppression and ignoring minorities is DEFINITELY going to work this time around.

ACTUAL picture from the CPAC 2014 “Minority Outreach Panel.” There must have been a workshop on “Paying Women Less” down the hall.

ACTUAL picture from the CPAC 2014 “Minority Outreach Panel.” There must have been a workshop on “Paying Women Less” down the hall.

This year was no different. Rand Paul won the CPAC presidential straw poll as well as “Weirdest Hair.” Ted Cruz was a distant second in the straw poll with only 10% of the vote (Paul got 31%). The yearly straw poll is generally not a good indicator of successful presidential bids, as previous winners include George Allen (‘05), Rudy Guiliani (‘06), Romney, (‘07-’09, ‘12), Ron Paul (‘10-’11), and Rand Paul (‘13-’14). Not a lot of success there. Only one of those people ever actually became the Republican nominee, and it took  four wins of the straw poll to do it. So don’t really look too much into it.

CPAC does bring out nearly every major name in conservative politics, though, especially as we approach the two year endeavor that is presidential campaigning. Speakers/attendees included Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, The Donald, and Chris Christie.

Christie – who wasn’t even invited last year because he was a decent human being that one time – had a particularly interesting CPAC. Amidst Bridgegate, Christie is fighting to get back his electability status. He took a hard line against President Obama and focused on his work destroying unions in New Jersey – always winners with the GOP.

There were others trying to claw back out of the GOP doghouse, too. Marco Rubio is still facing backlash for his attempts at immigration reform. So now he’s trying to position himself as the next Reagan, which is the Republican equivalent of hipsters putting birds on things.

Every Republican wants to be the next Reagan, so they’ll use any and every reason to invoke his name.

Rick Perry had an interesting CPAC. He, too, is attempting to rehabilitate his “Oops” image, and trying to position himself for another presidential run to which everyone collectively reacts:

HoC really.gif

Michele Bachmann also made an appearance, and (surprise!) she made another bigoted comment. She was on the Lars Larson radio show at CPAC, and when asked about Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s veto of the controversial SB 1062, Bachmann replied:

“There’s nothing about gays in there. But the gay community decided to make this their measure,” Bachmann said. “I think the thing that is getting a little tiresome, the gay community, they have so bullied the American people, and they’ve so intimidated politicians. The politicians fear them, so that they think they get to dictate the agenda everywhere.”

I can’t say I expect anything less from her at this point. Thankfully she will no longer be in Congress after this year, and I couldn’t imagine her running for President again. But you never really know with Bachmann.

So what now? Did the Republicans come out with any viable candidates for 2016? Heavens, no. But guys like Rand Paul are definitely starting to make their push. Although, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker – who did not attend this year’s CPAC – has been seen as a potential bridge between Tea Party conservatives and establishment Republicans.

This year he is going through his third election for the same seat in 4 years (was recalled and won in 2012). If he loses to a Democrat he could be severely wounded going into 2016, although it’s not unheard of to win the nomination after losing a gubernatorial race (a one R. Nixon comes to mind). But I’m sure he’ll figure out a way to get the win and carry him to 2016.

All-in-all, CPAC 2014 will be considered another success for the Republicans. Obama was shit on; Reagan was deified; and Mike Huckabee still hasn’t realized he can’t be president. Pretty much no different from every other day in the life of a prominent Republican.

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