WASHINGTON, DC, March 19, 2013—CPAC 2013 is now in the books. Let’s look at some of the winners and losers from the three-day conservative confab.
Ted Cruz—The Texas Senator took the keynote address and knocked it out of the park. This is a man who can unite various factions of the party. The Libertarians like his stance on personal liberty and drones. His father was in Castro’s Cuban prison, and the son is a passionate defender of American liberty and freedom. He is now a full fledged conservative star.
Sarah Palin—Critics of the former Alaska Governor will never accept her, but attempts to declare her yesterday’s news have failed. Her speech came with the prop of a giant-sized Big Gulp soda, contrasting the conservative freedom agenda with the big government liberalism that has destroyed New York and California. Sarah Barracuda remains a rock star.
Rand Paul—He is not his father. For Libertarians, this is cause for concern. For the rest of the world, this is a compliment. To paraphrase the late Mayor Ed Koch, Rand Paul wants to be seen as a Libertarian with sanity. His thirteen hour filibuster against drones left out marijuana legalization. He wants to take his father’s movement from the fringes to the mainstream.
Marco Rubio—The Florida Senator entered a rock star and left one. He was outshone by Ted Cruz, but held his own. His family’s story of leaving Cuba behind for the freedom of America is still compelling. The left is scared to death of him, although he may benefit from being seen as “mainstream” compared to the more fiery Cruz.
Mitt Romney—The 2012 presidential nominee was the model of dignity and class. Despite losing the vote, he showed why he is a far better man than his general election opponent could ever be. Whatever one thinks of Romney’s conservatism, there is no disputing his decency.
Paul Ryan—The 2012 vice presidential nominee remains the brightest congressional mind. He takes complex fiscal issues and breaks them down in simple terms. More importantly, he makes the moral case for fiscal action. Ryan humanizes wonky issues and communicates that doing nothing hurts the poor the most. He can unite every faction of the GOP that matters.
Scott Walker—The Wisconsin Governor is the anti-Obama, a doer, not a talker. The crowd loves that he governed as he campaigned. He kept his word. He fought back against the liberal bullies and won. His conservative tax cuts and the resulting job growth turned Wisconsin around.
Chris Christie—The New Jersey Governor was not even invited to CPAC, yet he finished fourth in the straw poll. Despite moving leftward to get reelected, many conservatives still like him.
Rick Santorum—The 2012 GOP runnerup remains the darling of social conservatives. The former Pennsylvania Senator has foreign policy and economic conservative credentials, and stayed within the general parameters of the 2013 mood. Fans in sweater vests came to salute their champion. He has kept his constituency, making him a kingmaker in 2016 if he does not run again.
Newt Gingrich—The former House Speaker and 2012 GOP nominee knows how to speak. His bizarre exit from the presidential stage has become a distant memory. He is now an elder statesman, still relevant.
Dr. Benjamin Carson—He hinted that he may run for political office. The doctor who took down President Obama up close and personal is beloved by conservatives, and vaguely hinted at a political future in a CPAC Q&A.
Colonel Allen West—His growing number of supporters would physically go through a brick wall for him. In addition to the CPAC floor, he took time to visit the Young Jewish Conservatives and light up their Sabbath Dinner. He challenged them to be the next generation of Jewish leaders. When Allen West talks about leadership, everybody listens.
Michele Bachmann—While she is an accomplished tax attorney who knows more than most people about Obamacare, she is pigeonholed as a social conservative. Santorum bested the Minnesota Congresswoman for that voting bloc during the presidential primaries. He crowds her out.
Rick Perry—The Texas Governor also fizzled during the 2012 primary season. While plenty of GOP nominees lost their first time around to rise up later, the enthusiasm for him was simply not there this time. He has been pushed aside at the presidential level in favor of the next generation.
Donald Trump—Trump is a winner in the game of life, succeedin at virtually everything he does. Yet business CEOs give orders. Politics involves bureaucracy. Trump is normally the most exciting person in the room whenever he enters. At CPAC he was just another speaker among many. His speech was not memorable, which means neither was his appearance.
Jeb Bush—The former Florida Governor was very successful in his two terms. Yet the Bush family name is still politically toxic. His immigration proposals are seen as “compassionate conservatism” redux. Thanks to Rubio, Jeb Bush is no longer the most popular Florida politician.
Karl Rove—For years “The Architect” was the scourge of the left as he led George W. Bush to two presidential victories. The GOP has gone 0-2 since he left the national scene. Yet after spending 300 million dollars in a losing 2012 effort, conservatives have declared war on his effort to wrest control from the grassroots and back to the establishment. Rove is talented but now reviled on both sides of the aisle.
Another big winner was the new face of the GOP. The diversity is real, but the conservative philosophy has been strengthened, not sacrificed. An inclusion panel featured prominent Jewish, gay, female, and black conservatives. The left will stop at nothing to destroy them to preserve their own hold on power. The Young Jewish Conservatives in particular showed a strong presence at packed events.
The biggest winner was CPAC 2013 itself. Despite the liberal attempts to discredit this event, it is now more relevant than ever. Healthy exchanges of ideas are what makes conservatism a vibrant and dynamic ideology. Whoever ends up being the new face of conservatism in the future will have the CPAC and the American Conservative Union (ACU) to thank.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.”
Eric is 100% alcohol, tobacco, drug, and liberalism free. Follow Eric on Twitter @TYGRRRREXPRESS.
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