The Washington Times - August 29, 2011, 02:14AM

Stormy seas rocked the ship all day Sunday. While some got sea sick,  others were immune to the waves.

The discussion at the Conservative Political Action Convention (CPAC) Alaska cruise centered on which Republican can weather the presidential nominatin process and ride over President Obama to take the White House in 2012. 

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Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, sees movement in coalition building in the GOP. “I think we’re on track to do well - with a whole bunch of work and a minimal number of screwups - we can win in 2012, both the presidency and the Senate, and maintain the House,” he said.

Don Rumsfeld differed. “I’m not quite as optimistic as Grover,” he told the group of 30. “I think it’s going to take a whale of an effort. I dont think it’s going to be easy to unseat an incumbent president.” However, he added that, “I could be wrong.”

The former Defense Secretary spoke of the regular changes in American history occuring when enough Americans rise up to change course. “There is a possibility that there’s not enough people pushing the pendulum back. Not enough people getting out of their chairs and righting the ship of state,” he told the activists.

“I dont know where the tipping point is, but I think we’re as close to it as a country has been. But, I don’t think we’re there yet.”

Turning to the favorites to win the Republican nod, Ralph Reed, said that this “is the most wide-open, unsellteld, fluid nomination for a party that we’ve ever seen.” When asked who he saw as the front runners now, the president of Faith & Freedom Coalition said Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann. 

Pollster Glen Bolger supplied data that should make Mr. Obama very nervous. He said that only 14 percent of Americans think that the country is going in the right direction, which is worse than in 1980 and 1992.”The mood of the country is overwhelmingly negative,” said the co-founder of Public Opinion Strategies. 

He said that the only president who had a lower average approval rating over his presidency as  Mr. Obama’s 46.9 percent was President Carter. He explained that job approval ratings are an accurate predictor of the final vote in the general election. 

But Mr. Bolger too was cautious of being too optimistic this far out from election day. He said that, “Obama is gravely wounded, but he sitll has a lot of fight left in him.”

I spoke last about the media and the campaign. I said the media is obsessed with who is not in the race, which hurts the current crop of candidates who are viewed as not sea worthy.  I  pointed out that repoters like the soap opera aspect of the nominating process because it gives us content to fill newspapers and TV shows. After the session, I returned to my cabin to fill this space with exactly that.