The three-day 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference concluded on Saturday, and much analysis has come since. KTTH hosts Ben Shapiro, David Boze, and Michael Medved – who broadcast live from CPAC – offered their evaluations of this year’s conference.
Ted Cruz Controversy
During his CPAC 2014 speech, Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz criticized the presidential campaigns of prominent Republicans John McCain, Bob Dole, and Mitt Romney.
“All of us remember President Dole, and President McCain, and President Romney,” Cruz said. “Now, look, those are good men, they’re decent men, but when you don’t stand and draw a clear distinction, when you don’t stand for principle, Democrats celebrate.”
The point being, Republicans can’t win the White House is they offer bland, flabby platitudes.
McCain asked Cruz to apologize for his remark about Dole because of Dole’s sacrifices as a soldier in World War II.
Shapiro and Boze surmised that Cruz was right, and wasn’t taking a swipe at Dole’s record of service.
“I look at it as a political statement not about their service, but about their political campaigns,” Boze said. “Note how Cruz put it into the context of them not being able to separate themselves.”
“Ted Cruz can say what he wants about Bob Dole in the 1996 presidential race.”
But, Medved chastised Cruz for “attacking [his] own,” and said that he does not think Cruz will run for president in 2016 because his wife is a senior executive at Goldman Sachs.
“With Ted Cruz attacking the establishment when you’re married to Goldman Sachs, it’s going to be tough,” he said.
Rand Paul wins
As his father did almost every year in recent years, Rand Paul won the presidential straw poll.
“Imagine with me for a moment – imagine a time where liberties again spread from coast to coast. Imagine a time where our great country is governed by the Constitution. Imagine a time when the White House is once again occupied by a friend of liberty,” Paul said in his CPAC speech.
Boze surmised that Rand is more likable and less frightening than father Ron.
Shapiro largely agreed, but noted that Rand Paul may be even more liberal about national defense than Hillary Clinton. Paul may want to curtail the use of drones in the War on Terror. Shapiro explained that in the War on Terror, everywhere is a battlefield – that using drones to eliminate enemies is no different than doing it at the Battle of the Bulge or Guadalcanal.
And, that straw poll was likely Rand Paul’s to lose, since people Shapiro calls “Paulistinians” usually stack the vote.
A fiery Ricky Perry emerges
Texas Gov. Rick Perry gave a very fiery speech at CPAC, saying, “It’s time for a little rebellion on the battlefield of ideas.” According to reports, he got the most applause of any speaker.
“Government should defend our country, provide cogent foreign policy, and – what the heck – deliver the mail, preferably on time and on Saturday,” Perry said. “Government should get out of the health care business, get out of the education business, and stop hammering on industry … my fellow conservatives, the future of this nation is on you. You have the power to change America. You have the power to speak to our newest hopes. You are the path to the future alight on a distant shore. You represent the renewed hope that America can be great again.”
But can Rick Perry be great again? Shapiro said it’s very likely that Perry will run for president in 2016, and he’ll give great stump speeches like the one he gave at CPAC 2014.
Shapiro wondered whether he could hold his own in debates against “ideologically pure” candidates like Rand Paul.
The left and their partners in the media love CPAC because it gives them an opportunity to show that there are fissures in the Republican party. This year was no different.
“I like how Paul Ryan handled it,” Boze said. “When he pointed out the diversity of opinion, he said, ‘I’m Irish, it reminds me of a family reunion.’”
When the left is divided on certain issues, it still has the ability to unite around the cause to create more, bigger government, Boze said. With conservatives, it’s harder to unite foreign policy types with social conservatives – the party must find one issue to bring together the diverse internal groups.
“A little squabbling is not that bad,” he said.
After spending three days at the event, Medved summed up that CPAC 2014 was, overall, pretty positive.
His takeaways from the event included that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will likely run for president, that CPAC videos did not properly show all of the young people who attended – some with purple hair and piercings like an episode of “Portlandia” – and that that straw poll showing Rand Paul was probably stacked.
“Not everything was positive, but by and large it was. There were no fights about anything. No occasions during the speeches where anyone got booed,” Medved said.
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