CPAC 2010 Updates: Latest News, Video From Conservative Political Action Conference
The annual Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, is known as a mecca for conservatives nationwide. This year luminaries like Glenn Beck, Mitt Romney, Marco Rubio and Andrew Breitbart will be speaking before an audience of thousands. The Huffington Post is there as well, sending live dispatches throughout the three-day conference. Check back here for updates, and click here for updates from Thursday.
Friday, February 19
7:00 PM -- CPAC Speaker Rails Against Gays, Draws Boos. California Young Americans for Freedom's Ryan Sorba took the stage at CPAC on Friday and proceeded to condemn the conference for it's association with a group of gay Republicans.
"I'd like to condemn CPAC for bringing GOPride to this event," Sorba said. His comments were met with boos and howls from the audience, to which he replied:
"Bring it, bring it, I love it." He continued:
"Guess what. Civil rights are grounded in natural rights. Natural rights are grounded in human nature."
Sorba then addressed one member of the audience who had apparently stood up to shout him down.
"The lesbians of Smith College protest better than you do," Sorba shot back, before leaving the stage.
5:15 PM -- Bob McDonell: Shows Up After all Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell stopped by CPAC on Friday after canceling his previously scheduled Saturday appearance at the conservative conference.
McDonnell bowed out of the Saturday speaking slot in order to return to Richmond to work on budget matters, according to his spokesman. He'll be back in Washington on Sunday to attend the National Governor's Association dinner at the White House with President Obama.
McDonnell has rapidly risen to political fame as a new face in the resurgent Republican Party. He delivered the GOP response to Obama's State of the Union address in January, just weeks after being inaugurated as Governor of Virginia.
1:30 PM -- Fact Checking TPaw. The HuffPost's Shriram Harid takes a closer look at Tim Pawlenty's CPAC speech:
The architect of Sam's Club Republicanism, Governor Tim Pawlenty may be losing his stranglehold on the title of GOP metaphorist-in-chief.
Nine years after urging the Republican Party "to be the party of Sam's Club, not just the country club", Pawlenty once again called on party-faithful to steer clear of elitism. "When you listen to the elites and the pundits talk about the tea party movement, when they talk about us conservatives, they may not always say it explicitly, but implicit in their comments is, 'Maybe they're not as sophisticated.'"
"They don't hang out at chablis drinking, brie eating parties in San Francisco," Pawlenty said.
On Friday Pawlenty also offered this advice to his fellow Republicans: "I think we should take a page out of her playbook and take a nine iron and smash a window out of big government in this country," said Pawlenty, referring to Tiger Woods's wife.
However, in light of Woods's repudiation of claims of domestic violence, Pawlenty's swipe at big government seems to have lost some of its juice.
12:30 PM -- John Ashcroft Supports Some Civilian Trials For Terrorists. The HuffPost's Sam Stein tracked down former Bush Attorney General John Ashcroft at CPAC and asked him about civilian vs. military trials for terrorists. Here's an excerpt from his report:
In an acknowledgment that throws a wrench in Republican talking points, former Attorney General John Ashcroft said on Friday that the criminal justice system does, indeed, have a role to play in trying terrorist suspects.
In an interview with the Huffington Post at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the former Bush administration official said that there are "a variety of tools that ought to be available to an administration" in its efforts to curb terrorism and bring terrorists to justice.
Asked specifically about holding civilian trials for terrorists, he said such a venue "has use and utility."
When asked how to distinguish whether to use a military tribunal system or criminal courts for terrorist suspects, Ashcroft said: "It depends on the circumstances."
11:30 AM -- Bush Recess Appointee To Obama: Make Recess Appointments. John Bolton, President Bush's most high-profile recess appointee, urged President Obama on Friday to use similar authority to move some of his own nominees into administration jobs.
Bolton, an extreme conservative, was blocked by Democrats. Bush appointed him as the Permanent U.S. Representative to the United Nations during an August recess. He served until December 2006.
Bolton told HuffPost during an interview at CPAC that being a recess appointee did not diminish his effectiveness.
"I don't think that there's any difference in a person's ability to function, whether they're there on a recess appointment or not," he said. "The Constitution provides for it and I'd be more than happy to see the president exercise his constitutional prerogatives and make some recess appointments."
Bolton said that he could have continued on in his position, even though his appointment expired, had he wanted to.
Asked whether there was a statutory hangup that would have required him to work without pay, he said, "No, I could have gotten another appointment. I decided to leave because I just felt it was better to be out of the administration, because I was disagreeing with the policy on a range of issues, from Iran to North Korea and the Middle East."
-- Ryan Grim
11:15 AM -- Steve King: Obamacare is "Toxic Stew." Here's some more evidence that congressional Republicans are in no mood to negotiate with president Obama during the upcoming health care summit.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) told the CPAC crowd on Friday that he wanted the legislation already crafted by Senate and House Democrats "dead" and "thrown out," labeling the bills "toxic stew."
"I don't want to meet with the president of the United States to see what other kind of toxic stew he is going to serve to us. And it is a toxic stew," he said of the Feb. 25 meeting between congressional leaders and the White House. "We don't want a pot full [of toxic stew], we don't want a spoon full. We don't want a bowl full or a cup full... We want it dead."
"Throw it out and start over," King added.
There were three conditions that King -- a dynamic and bombastic conservative -- insisted would have to be met for a bipartisan bill to be forged. The first was for Democrats to scrap what they've done already. The second was for reconciliation to be taken off the table. And the third was for Republicans themselves to realize that they can't have everything they want but should demand their key principles be included.
"I want stand-alone legislation that the American people can see clearly, that is negotiated in the light of day," King concluded.
-- Sam Stein
10:45 AM -- Pawlenty gets God. Likely 2012 presidential candidate, Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.), is not particularly well known within GOP circles as a socially conservative figure, but rather more of a blue-collar, "Sam's Club" Republican.
So when he took the opportunity during his keynote speech before CPAC attendees on Friday to declare that the public needed to understand that "God is in charge," the message seemed fairly evident: religious right, fret not.
"You have people who say, 'Come on, don't bring that up. That's not politically correct.'" Pawlenty said of all the God-talk. "Hogwash. These are enshrined in the founding documents... in the Declaration of Independence it says we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights. It doesn't say we are endowed by Washington D.C."
He went on: "I'm proud that in my state in the very first sentence in the very first paragraph of the Minnesota constitution. It says: "We, the people of the State of Minnesota, grateful to God for our civil and religious liberty.
"I say to those naysayers trying to crowd out God from the conversation. 'If it is good enough for the founding fathers, it should be good enough for each and every one of is.'"
-- Sam Stein
10:35 AM -- Pawlenty: "Take a nine iron and smash a window out of big government." A day after a suicide bomber struck an IRS building after penning an anti-government manifesto, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty took up the theme of violence against the state -- albeit in a metaphorical way. He joked that the most important event going on in America on Friday is Tiger Woods' impending press conference. "We can learn a lot from that situation. Not from Tiger, but from his wife. So she said, 'I've had enough.' She said, 'No more,'" he said. "I think we should take a page out of her playbook and take a nine iron and smash a window out of big government in this country. We've had enough."
-- Ryan Grim
10:30 AM -- Cantor Promises Beef At Health Care Summit. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) gave perhaps the strongest indication to date that Republican leadership views the upcoming bipartisan health care summit as a forum to rail against Democratic-authored legislation rather than contribute to it.
Speaking before the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, the Virginia Republican pledged to "hand down an indictment of the Democrats' bill" during the Feb. 25th meeting with congressional leadership and the White House. He then went on to suggest that the legislation in the works from President Barack Obama was a path to a full government takeover, a giveaway to special interests, and potentially unconstitutional.
"Lord only knows what's up their sleeves," Cantor said. "What we will do in encountering this president is, number one, ask the question, 'Why in the world would he support a bill like those that have come out of the Senate and the House?' These bills are flawed by their very nature. They are the bills that America has awakened to and have rejected.
"These bills are predicated upon backdoor dealing. They are predicated upon requiring the purchase of health care insurance that has a questionable constitutional origin. These bills are ultimately designed to lead this country to a single-payer system, something that the American people reject."
Cantor insisted that the only way Democrats and Republicans will come to agreement is if the president agrees to "push the reset button" on health care legislation. "We will say no" to his bill, he added, "because that's what the American people want."
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-- Sam Stein