Palin fires up CPAC, crowd chants 'Run, Sarah, Run!'
March 8th, 2014
10:13 AM ET
7 years ago

Palin fires up CPAC, crowd chants 'Run, Sarah, Run!'

(CNN) - The third and final day of the Conservative Political Action Conference – better known by its initials, CPAC – is underway at a major convention center at National Harbor, just south of the nation's capital.

The conference is the largest annual gathering of conservative leaders and activists, and when there's no Republican in the White House, it's a must-attend cattle call for Republican presidential hopefuls looking to pass the conference's conservative litmus test. CPAC will close Saturday with the much-anticipated results of the confab's GOP presidential nomination straw poll.

Here are the latest developments:

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6:00pm ET

Palin fires up CPAC, crowd chants 'Run, Sarah, Run!'

By CNN's Conor Finnegan

Sarah Palin left them standing, cheering for more.

The former Republican vice presidential candidate and tea party favorite closed out the Conservative Political Action Conference as the final keynote speaker, energizing a big crowd to the point where it erupted into chants of "Run, Sarah Run!"

In a rabble-rousing speech on Saturday outside Washington, Palin hit the right-wing high notes - from the Benghazi terror attack and IRS targeting to the "War on Women" and political correctness.

She even took out a couple of copies of "Green Eggs and Ham" to honor another tea party darling, Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican who read from the Dr. Seuss classic during a filibuster over Obamacare and spending last fall.

But her version had a political spin on it.

"I do not like this Uncle Sam. I do not like his health care scam," she began, to big applause. "I do not like these dirty crooks, or how they lie and cook the books. I do not like when Congress steals. I do not like their crony deals. I do not like this spying, man. I do not like 'Oh yes we can.'"

"I do not like this kind of hope, and we won't take it - nope, nope, nope," she finished.

The big crowd, hanging on her every word, eventually erupted into chants of "Run, Sarah, Run!"

"I should. I didn't get to run this morning. I was so busy, man," she said to big laughs.

Palin has not said whether she will run for office again. In 2009, she resigned as Alaska's governor a year and a half early in her first term.

She went on to offer high praise for some fellow Republicans, like Cruz, who finished a distant second to fellow senator and potential White House hopeful, Rand Paul, in this year's CPAC presidential straw poll.

"Liberty needs a Congress on Cruz control," she said.

"Ted Cruz and Mike Lee and Paul and Gowdy and Gosar and Gohmert– we've got some good guys in there!" she said, although she did not offer an endorsement of any of the party's possible 2016 contenders.

About half of CPAC attendees said they disliked Republicans in Congress, according to the conference's straw poll - and Palin took up that mantle, criticizing "the GOP establishment" who, she said, want Republicans to "lay low" and watch the Democrats self-destruct.

"You do interrupt when they are in the process of destroying your country, and that's what we're gonna do in 2014," she argued.

But her biggest target, as always, was President Barack Obama, arguing he has broken his promises and taken the country in the wrong direction. Luckily, she said, he's almost out.

"The age of Obama is almost over - the end of an era. He is the lamest of lame ducks," she said.

1:00pm ET

Gingrich pans Obama, cautions GOP to not be the 'anti' party

By CNN's Conor Finnegan

President Barack Obama took some flak for traveling to Florida for a getaway with his family amid the crisis in Ukraine. But Newt Gingrich jokingly told conservatives on Saturday not to worry: Obama can be ineffective no matter where he is.

"The President spent all of last week proving he was capable of being ineffective. I believe he can be as ineffective in Key Largo as he was in the White House," he said to laughter and big applause at the Conservative Political Action Conference just outside Washington in Maryland.

The co-host of CNN's "Crossfire" and former House speaker spoke about innovation and politics, advocating a "big rebellion" on the "battlefield of ideas."

In a speech that ranged from Alexander Graham Bell to the smart phone, Gingrich argued that the GOP must become the party of the future instead of the party of opposition.

"We must stop being the opposition movement, and we must become the alternative government movement that will help make the life of every American better so that they understand what we would do that would be right, not just what the left is doing that is wrong," he said.

A big part of that is moving past criticizing Obama and introducing new ideas, he argued.

"If our movement is primarily anti-Obama, we will in fact reduce the number of victories we should win this fall. If we spend the next three years being anti-Hillary, we will virtually guarantee her election," he said.

The former secretary of state is the current front-runner for the Democratic nomination, according to polls, although she has yet to say whether she'll run for the White House.

Still, Gingrich, who mounted a Republican presidential campaign in 2012, went after Clinton, openly trying to paint her as part of the old guard who block a better future for average Americans.

"What I'm trying to do is set up a conversation in America among everybody on our side so that by 2016, Hillary Clinton is the leading prison guard of the past, propping up every failed bureaucratic institution in America," he said.

10:00am ET

Bachmann takes swipe at Hillary, Obama

By CNN's Conor Finnegan

America will eventually have a female President, but Hillary Clinton is not the woman for the job, says a vocal conservative member of Congress and former White House hopeful.

Rep. Michele Bachmann, a Minnesota Republican who has been on the attack against the the former secretary of state and potential 2016 White House contender, sought to energize the faithful at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday in Washington.

"The other party talks a lot about nominating a woman in 2016, and that's fine. But she's going to have a lot of tough questions that she's going to have to answer," said Bachmann.

Bachmann, a former presidential candidate last time around, highlighted what conservatives contend was Clinton's failed policy "reset" with Russia and their criticism of the Obama administration around the deadly 2012 terror attack in Benghazi, Libya.

"We will have a woman for President - just the right one," she added in a comment similar to one made by Clinton earlier in the week about future prospects for a female chief executive.

Clinton, also a former first lady and U.S. senator, is the frontrunner in polls for the Democratic nomination, but she has not indicated whether she'll mount another presidential run following her unsuccessful candidacy in 2008.

Bachmann, who is leaving Congress, went on to remind the crowd that she was once the frontrunner for their party's nomination in 2012 and that their party is the only one to have had a woman on the presidential ticket "this century." Sarah Palin was John McCain's running mate in 2008.

Bachmann then launched into a red meat attack on President Barack Obama, questioning his trustworthiness and highlighting "Obamacare devastation."

Bachmann also urged conservatives to not give in on immigration reform, which they have balked at even though many political experts say overhauling the U.S. immigration system would be one way for Republicans to make gains with the important Hispanic voting bloc.

"That is the last thing that conservatives should do - is to help the President pass his Number One goal of his second term, and that's amnesty," she said, referring to proposals that would create a pathway to legal status for millions of undocumented workers in the United States.

Instead, she said the GOP needs to, "Keep our eyes on the prize" - the 2014 midterm elections when Republicans hope to retake control of the Senate.

"Taking the gavel out of (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid's hand on the first Tuesday of November is going to feel pretty darn sweet," she said. "His reign is over."

7:30am ET

Straw poll scrutiny

By CNN's Paul Steinhauser

The results of the CPAC straw poll are analyzed and scrutinized on TV and online. But the idea that the results are any kind of barometer of what will actually happen two years from now in the 2016 GOP primaries and caucuses is extremely debatable.

Then-Sen. George Allen of Virginia won the the 2006 CPAC straw poll. At the time he was considered a potential leading contender for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination. But thanks in part to the "macaca" moment, Allen lost his 2006 Senate re-election, and with it lost any hope of running for the White House.

Then-Rep. Ron Paul of Texas won the straw poll in 2010 and 2011, in between his two bids for the GOP nomination. His victories were proof of the strong libertarian influence on the CPAC straw poll. But regardless of his CPAC victories, Paul never had a realistic chance of wining the nomination, and finished far behind eventual nominee Mitt Romney.

But the straw poll is useful.

"The straw poll is still more of a scrimmage of expectations. Beat the expectations, and you can generate a lot of buzz among the media and activists," said Kevin Madden, a Republican strategist, CNN contributor and senior adviser to Romney in the former Massachusetts governor's 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns.

In 2007, Romney, considered in tune with conservative activists at the time, made winning at CPAC a priority. And he met expectations with a straw poll victory. He won again in 2008, narrowly edging out eventual GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who was not a favorite of the conservative base. Romney won even though he ended his bid for the Republican nomination on the first day of the conference.

Romney won in 2012, as he was battling two more conservative candidates: Former Sen. Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Romney's 2012 appearance is less remembered for his straw poll victory than for his description of himself as "severely conservative" in his speech to the audience.

Last year's contest ended up being a two-person race, with Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky winning the straw poll with 25% of the vote, one percentage point ahead of Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. The 21 other people on the ballot were far behind, registering in single digits.

After his very well received speech Friday afternoon, Paul is considered to be in a good position to win the straw poll for a second straight year.

This year, 25 names are on the straw poll ballot.

Filed under: 2014 • 2016 • CPAC
soundoff (320 Responses)
  1. Tampa Tim

    The winners of the CPAC: in first place – Putin, 2 goes to Cruz, 3 is Paul, 4 place is the draft dodger, Ted Nugent. In 137th place, Orly Taits, followed by Donald Trump.

    March 8, 2014 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  2. Rick McDaniel

    The eventual candidate, seldom wins the straw polls.

    March 8, 2014 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  3. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Conservative and Leader should never be used in the same sentence!

    March 8, 2014 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  4. Gunderson

    Holy Next Election!,
    Your Next President/Vice President will b Sargent Snorkel and Mammy Yokum. You know them better as Chris Christi and Sarah Palin !! You may or may not still have Putin Care, better known as Obama Care. :Last but not least, you may finally get a job. You like that, don't you?

    March 8, 2014 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  5. countingdown

    "The results of the CPAC straw poll are analyzed and scrutinized on TV and online. But the idea that the results are any kind of barometer of what will actually happen two years from now in the 2016 GOP primaries and caucuses is extremely debatable."

    So, why do you guys put so much emphasis on your own polls?

    March 8, 2014 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  6. Thomas

    Why isn't the most qualified conservative man in the world " Rep. Louie Gohmert " on this list ?

    Gohmert was Cruz before Cruz was Cool !

    March 8, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  7. TasteyTreat

    This is not a "key" poll. What a misleading and inaccurate headline. First of all, it's way too early. Secondly, the poll is conducted among one segment of likely GOP voters and is not, therefore, a reflection of all GOP voters. Thirdly, in the last election cycle the winner of this poll wasn't even the nominee. So much for being a key poll. LOL, typical CNN.

    March 8, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  8. istenno

    this conference is made up of the most influential of the mentally ill people in this country. it's really a bizarre thing.

    March 8, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  9. Lucky

    As a liberal I couldn't be happier.

    March 8, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  10. troppo1

    The Clown Car picks it's driver....

    March 8, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  11. The REAL TRUTH...

    @Rick McDaniel – The eventual candidate, seldom wins the straw polls.
    And the eventual candidate has won ONLY ONE popular vote in the last 25 yrs..

    March 8, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  12. Devon

    Go ahead Liberals. Keep pushing. The more you do, the more the independents are voting conservative.

    March 8, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  13. The REAL TRUTH...

    @Gunderson – Holy Next Election!, Your Next President/Vice President will b Sargent Snorkel and Mammy Yokum. You know them better as Chris Christi and Sarah Palin !!
    To be honest, you're better off focusing on winning the lottery. The odds are much better.

    March 8, 2014 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  14. t

    CPAC....a bunch of ..(and BTW, poorly attended)...far far right radicals trying their very best to influence the elections. Failure inevitably follows.

    March 8, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  15. Richard

    Would love to see a Rubio Paul ticket! Makes no difference who is top guy, both will get shellacked in general election!

    March 8, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  16. BrooklynChickLovesLiberty

    Rand Paul's speech was OUTSTANDING!! Gave me goose bumps. PLUS, he quoted Pink Floyd! How awesome is that!

    Rand has my vote in 2016 for sure!

    RAND PAUL 2016!!!

    March 8, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  17. Dave

    And when Hillary doesn't receive the DNC nomination AGAIN, who will be the democrat candidate?

    March 8, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  18. 2_indy1600

    Just as Palin was the death-knell for McCain, any ticket with her name on it is doomed.

    March 8, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  19. josey

    Palin/Putin2016 - woohoo!

    March 8, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  20. josey

    Republicans are really gonna cry when they get beat up by a girl in 2016 - go Hillary!!

    March 8, 2014 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  21. They'reAllCrooks

    Jeff Brown..Really? You can say that with a straight face with Obama in the White House?... Wow!

    March 8, 2014 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  22. tom l

    I'm just sad. I thought our president cared about us and knew that these junk policies were bad for us. He knows what's best for us and I just can't believe he would allow this. And it's so weird that he just decided to extend it for 3 years. I wonder why he would allow me to be so unprotected and such a victim of these insurance companies by letting me buy junk insurance. I'm lost. I thought he cared.

    March 8, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  23. Larry L

    Bachman said something to further reduce the number of Hispanic people supporting the GOP. Clever plan... Let's see now... latest surveys show Republicans against women's rights, minority rights, immigrants, gay people, people who aren't Christian, the poor, organized labor, science, veterans benefits, every media outlet but Fox news, anybody who cares about the environment, and anybody who thinks the sale of firearms should require background checks. They are in favor of Ted Nugent, corporate subsidies, Confederate flags, Vladimir Putin, Snowden giving secrets to the Russians, unfounded conspiracies, refining Canada's dirty oil tar, holding Americans hostage, and the color white. Tough choice for the next election...

    March 8, 2014 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  24. Moses

    Michele Bachmann is the spawn of Satan. Any group that would invite her to speak has no credibility, The only people more nuts than Michele are those who support her. How much longer will conservative Republicans promote policies that are no longer relevant to most voters?

    March 8, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  25. bill

    timmey, are you talking about slick willey when you say draft dodger? BTW dear leader is in flor-e-duh. you should bow down and kiss his feet...

    March 8, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
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