Republicans can now count the leading tea party senator, their brightest 2016 prospect, the speaker of the House, and the chairman of their party as supportive of immigration reform. Meanwhile, anti-reform -- even just anti-citizenship -- politicians can't seem to find any oxygen. Among the party's elites at least, the battle over whether to support the basic planks of comprehensive immigration reform looks like it's over.
There's still plenty that can go wrong for reformers: negotiations could get bogged down in the details of a guest worker plan or border security or rank-and-file Republicans could get spooked by a revolt in their home districts. Already, a handful of GOP senators are asking to slow the legislative process down (which is itself a sign of reform's current momentum), and if it languishes too long its opponents could take the opportunity to organize more effectively. But if immigration reform does pass, this week may mark the tipping point.
Let's review:PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
A CPAC panel on minority outreach erupted into national news last week after participants demanded justice for "disenfranchised" whites and expressed sympathy for slaveholders. It's a frustrating development for the event's moderator, K. Carl Smith, who said he's never seen anything like what happened Friday at his previous lectures.
Conservatives often complain that liberal college professors give Democrats a leg up when it comes to winning over young Americans. But worried right-wing parents who attended the annual Conservative Political Action Conference this past weekend may have encountered Jim Van Eerden, who presented a solution to correct the problem.
Van Eerden, an "entrepreneur in residence" at Grove City College, an evangelical college in Pennsylvania, spent CPAC weekend at Maryland's National Harbor outside Washington, D.C., promoting his nonprofit website Free Think U, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
A year after Mitt Romney won the straw poll at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, attendees this weekend had no consensus theory for how their candidate lost in November.
Republican soul-searching has been a major theme at CPAC, the right-wing's blockbuster conference, being held this year outside of Washington in suburban Maryland. But after two days, there is no dominant narrative or talking point to explain their bruising defeat or how to right the Republican ship in 2016.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
This post has been updated.
A CPAC session sponsored by Tea Party Patriots and billed as a primer on teaching activists how to court black voters devolved into a shouting match as some attendees demanded justice for white voters and others shouted down a black woman who reacted in horror.
The session, entitled "Trump The Race Card: Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Called A Racist When You Know You're Not One?" was led by K. Carl Smith, a black conservative who mostly urged attendees to deflect racism charges by calling themselves "Frederick Douglass Republicans."
Disruptions began when he started accusing Democrats of still being the party of the Confederacy -- a common talking point on the right.
"I don't care how much the KKK improved," he said. "I'm not going to join the KKK. The Democratic Party founded the KKK."
Lines like that drew shouts of praise from some attendees and murmurs of disapproval from one non-conservative black attendee, Kim Brown, a radio host and producer with Voice of Russia, a broadcasting service of the Russian government.
But then questions and answers began. And things went off the rails.
Mitt Romney received an enthusiastic welcome at CPAC on Friday, where he graciously thanked conservatives for supporting his 2012 campaign, but offered little reflection as to why it ultimately failed.
"I'm sorry I won't be your president," Romney said. "I will be your coworker and I'll work shoulder by shoulder beside you."
For Republicans worried that creating a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants will simply create 11 million more Democratic voters, Donald Trump has a solution. Bring in more European immigrants.
Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference outside of Washington, D.C., on Friday, Trump warned that Republicans are on a "suicide mission" if they support immigration reform, claiming that every single illegal immigrant will end up voting Democratic.
"When it comes to immigration, you know that the 11 million illegals, even if given the right to vote -- you know, you're gonna have to do what's right -- but the fact is, 11 million people will be voting Democratic," Trump said.
No matter how pro-active Republicans are on immigration reform, they're not going to win the votes of former illegal immigrants. "That's just the way it works, and you have to be very, very careful," Trump warned.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
To listen to the head of the National Rifle Association tell it, the battle over gun control is as dire as ever despite signs legislation in Congress is on the ropes.
During a fired up speech Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre offered no sign that the organization feels confident it has successfully blocked new regulations. He practically begged conference attendees to remain vigilant against coming gun laws, including background checks.
"You're here because you want to make your own difference," LaPierre said. "Take your own stand. Plant your feet firmly in the foundation of freedom. Don't be swayed by the winds of political insanity."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Rick Santorum delivered an emotional defense of social and economic conservatism on Friday, holding back tears as he repeatedly referenced the death of his young nephew just the day before.
"Yesterday he was not the one in pain," Santorum said, describing the "surreal" scene at the hospital. "Medicines were effectively blocking all his physical pain -- we were the ones in pain." The circumstances of Santorum's newphew's death were not immediately available and the former Senator did not go into detail.
He employed this pain metaphor throughout the speech, attacking popular culture and progressive economic policy as an empty effort to dull national suffering.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Winning back Latino voters wasn't a side issue on CPAC's first day. It was the issue.
Organizers may have purged center-right speakers like Chris Christie from this year's event, but when it came to immigration it was a whole other world. Panels, speeches, and breakout sessions galore featured Latino or pro-immigration Republicans who warned of impending doom if the party didn't abandon its usual hardline ways.
It didn't always go over well. The mere mention, by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, of calls to shift the party's appeal to the growing Latino demographic drew boos from the crowd. But the overwhelmingly pro-reform schedule reflected deep-seated fears among conservative leaders that population trends could turn the GOP into a minority party for decades if the immigration issue isn't addressed soon.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the most forceful speech on the topic came from a pollster, Whit Ayres, who all but fell to his knees and begged Republicans to pass comprehensive reform.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
"Well, we lost," said Republican strategist Dick Morris as he took the stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference outside of suburban Washington, D.C., on Thursday. And in order to win the next election, Morris delivered some bad news to Republicans: They need to change.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)