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. willythekorn

    Oh yes, please! Run, Sarah, Run!! And why don't you have little Ricky Santorum run for VP? That's a ticket that will stand up and work. For us. After all, you would likely take a whole bunch of TPers in Congress down with you. The only problem is, I don't want to wait until 2016 to get the House back and get a supermajority in the Senate. But if you start campaigning RIGHT NOW, maybe it can happen this year.

    March 9, 2014 04:09 am at 4:09 am |
  2. IpseCogita

    Waste of time, money and political capital for either Palin or Paul to run. Better they use their capital to drive the debate and put their support behind a candidate that could win.

    March 9, 2014 04:09 am at 4:09 am |
  3. Mugzee44

    Let's see, Democrats tax the hell out of us, Republicans take our money and spend it every where BUT in America and claim were broke. Damn, what's a voter to do?

    March 9, 2014 04:10 am at 4:10 am |
  4. anonymous54

    Sarah Palin is a joke

    March 9, 2014 04:10 am at 4:10 am |
  5. Dave in CO

    YES Please Run Sarah!!! So all the forgetful Morons can See Russia from your Door steps... UNREAL

    March 9, 2014 04:11 am at 4:11 am |
  6. Melanie

    Run, Sarah, run. Please. (read with sarcasm)

    March 9, 2014 04:19 am at 4:19 am |
  7. 2004RoadKing

    For the past 30 years, political parties have reminded me of the good ole days of "Equal Opportunity". In many of those "EEO" era cases a person was hired, not because of their qualifications, but for some other ridiculous reason. Whether it's the GOP, CPAC, or the LMNOP, it's all a bunch of bull. It's a backslapping party and nothing gets done. I know this because I had the unfortunate pleasure of running for office once. I beg to ask, has anyone in recent history thought about finding someone who is an American; that is "Exceptionally Qualified" to be in office? The real issue is the complexities of the nation, let alone the world. Can any one person possibly be "Qualified" to oversee a nation with the problems that we are faced with? I say it's rather doubtful. Now that we're at rock bottom, someone needs to reflect on "HISTORY" and try figuring out a better way of doing business as a nation. What the hell, someone figured out how to make a cell phone and computer you would reason the geniuses running these parties could come up with something better than we're seeing!

    March 9, 2014 04:26 am at 4:26 am |
  8. db

    You can't stop progress which is why conservatives are always losing ground.

    March 9, 2014 04:35 am at 4:35 am |
  9. Loathstheright

    (Snicker) Run (giggle) Sarah (belly laugh) Run.

    March 9, 2014 04:37 am at 4:37 am |
  10. BD70

    Palin is always good for a laugh...on that note....it troubles me greatly reading words like 'our side" "the other side" etc. There is not suppose to be sides. This is OUR country and it should be run with a mix of everyones ideas.

    March 9, 2014 04:43 am at 4:43 am |
  11. A J

    I love how Palin misspeaks. Here's another example: "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.

    What Palin seems to say is that the Tea Partiers are also going to destroy the country. Just another Palinism, much like Bushisms.

    March 9, 2014 05:04 am at 5:04 am |
  12. NeoPrudentist

    Run, Sarah, run! (to Russia, I've heard tell it's not far from your backyard)

    March 9, 2014 05:05 am at 5:05 am |
  13. Marty Marzipan

    As a liberal / socialist I have Palin does run! RUN SARAH RUN! It'll be good for Jon Stewart and Bill Maher, and good for the country, because it will be a clear choice between the Quitter and Elizabeth Warren.

    March 9, 2014 05:06 am at 5:06 am |
  14. Marty Marzipan

    As a liberal / socialist I hope Palin does run! RUN SARAH RUN! It'll be good for Jon Stewart and Bill Maher, and good for the country, because it will be a clear choice between the Quitter and Elizabeth Warren.

    March 9, 2014 05:06 am at 5:06 am |
  15. Anex

    Oh yes, let her run. That will make the democratic win all that much easier. It's too bad this country is run on a two party system.

    March 9, 2014 05:17 am at 5:17 am |
  16. Rick

    I wish she would run, I've never laughed so hard on a regular basis as I did when that buffoon was around, but she won't. She's only in it for the money and I'm betting she can make more with her firing up the delusional masses schtick than she can as a serious politician. What I don't get is why anyone would want someone who quit a high ranking government job in the middle of a term to run for anything at all, regardless of party affiliation.

    March 9, 2014 05:18 am at 5:18 am |
  17. seagrandma

    Oh! Please run Sarah! Just what our nation needs, a complete moron in the White House. Lol

    March 9, 2014 05:19 am at 5:19 am |
  18. Anex

    Oh yes let her run. PLEASE let her run. That will make the democratic win that much easier. Downside to an election system that is pretty much a two party system, but I vastly prefer the democrats than conservatives that STILL try to use the words "socialists" and "Communists" interchangeably.

    March 9, 2014 05:19 am at 5:19 am |
  19. cnn

    run sarah run...take a long run off a short pier

    March 9, 2014 05:25 am at 5:25 am |
  20. Trey

    The GOP= GOOBERS ON PARADE!

    March 9, 2014 05:34 am at 5:34 am |
  21. RandyF

    Conservatives real just conservative their energy by not thinking.

    March 9, 2014 05:46 am at 5:46 am |
  22. marilyn58

    What a joke she is, some people are just blind. well at least she wasn't in the straw poll. and that doctor I had some respect for him as a neurosurgeon, now I will throw out his book, I see he is brain washed like all those at that conference.

    March 9, 2014 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  23. jason

    The GOP ha Electyle Dysfuntion syndrome....the only way out is election fraud

    March 9, 2014 06:25 am at 6:25 am |
  24. John Pickett

    She could run for Governor and finish her term she owes Alaska

    March 9, 2014 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  25. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    I guess all of the worst of the GOP FREAKS are at this GOP FREAK SHOW. No wonder the GOP CANT win a national election!!!!!!

    March 9, 2014 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
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