NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- No one would be shocked to find out that those at the Conservative Political Action Conference don’t have a high opinion of President Barack Obama. As portrayed by the speakers, attendees, sponsors and volunteers, the president is both feckless and lawless. His domestic economic agenda has woefully fallen short. His national security policies have been alarmingly statist. His foreign policy agenda has lacked any teeth.
But just how bad do they think Obama is? Would they, for example, prefer to have Russian President Vladimir Putin running the country?
It’s an absurd question, of course. But it’s one the conservative website The Daily Caller kind of asked when it put out an “URGENT NEWS POLL” asking: “Who would make a better president? Obama or Putin?”
Rather than wait for the answers, The Huffington Post decided to do the field work. We spoke to a dozen attendees out in the hall, showing them the Daily Caller’s webpage and asking them for a reaction. One person said she would take Obama over Putin. The majority was ambivalent, while a few talked themselves into the potential benefits of a Putin administration. Here are some of their answers.
Ed Porter: “I feel so uncomfortable answering. My instinct on that is: I don’t know. I would think Putin would be just as lawless, but he would have actual leadership and gravitas. It pains me to say it. But I’d go with him.”
John Rhodes: “Neither one. I would stay home. Putin has a long-term strategy. There is nothing we can do over Crimea and even then it is not worth it … It would be the first election I didn’t vote in."
Emily Hillstrom: “I think Obama will still make a better president. Putin discriminates against people. He puts them in jail. I just don’t think he is a good leader. He also invaded Ukraine.”
Sarah Kelley: “I don’t know. Putin is a lot more forward with the way he does things.”
Conor (declined to give his last name): “Putin.”
Huffington Post: “But he puts people in jail.”
Conor: “So does Obama.”
Huffington Post: “But he just invaded a neighboring country.”
Conor: “So would Obama.”
Huffington Post: “But then why Putin, if they’re both bad?”
Conor: “Because, hope and change.”
Brent (asked for his last name not to be used): “Putin. He has done a stronger job of playing international politics.”
The Huffington Post asked Brent about Putin’s domestic record. In response, he said that on 2nd Amendment rights, the IRS screening of Tea Party groups, and domestic surveillance, Obama was pursuing policies that are “hallmarks of everyday circumstances in Russia.”
“As absurd as the poll is, there is greater respectability for someone who can effect change,” he added.
Mark Roepke: “It’s tough. Putin is an effective leader. He is getting things done. It depends where I live ... I probably don’t want a Soviet running this country, but I already got a socialist.”