- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 10, 2014

The timing is impeccable: A dozen famed conservatives with liberty, tradition and smaller government on their minds gather a mere 72 hours before Tax Day dawns. That would be the Freedom Summit on Saturday, a daylong showcase organized by Americans for Prosperity Foundation and Citizens United, staged in Manchester, the most bustling town in New Hampshire. The free grass-roots event has drawn live coverage on C-SPAN and the intense interest of Fox News, CNN, NBC and multiple national news organizations.

And no wonder. The starring line-up includes Republicans Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, plus Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Donald Trump, Laura Ingraham and Reps. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Louis Gohmert of Texas and Steve King of Iowa.

“The minute the news got out who would be on stage, and the interest was instantaneous. Our 700 tickets were gone in a moment, and 800 people rushed onto the waiting list. It’s that kind of event,” Greg Moore, state director for Americans for Prosperity, tells Inside the Beltway.


SEE ALSO: Freedom Summit unofficial start to ‘16 GOP primary


The summit will focus on how to return the nation to “conservative bedrock principles the Granite State has been known for,” Mr. Moore advises.

Those who prefer a little Midwestern fix are in luck on Friday, in the meantime.

The ever-present C-SPAN will also offer live coverage of Rep. Paul Ryan’s appearance at the Republican Party of Iowa’s annual Lincoln Dinner, which incidentally features a fresh farm salad, filet of chicken with thyme, potatoes au gratin and a julienne of fresh vegetables for all the hungry heartland GOPers.

Mr. Ryan — still jaunty following U.S. House approval of his 102-page federal budget proposal — goes before the cameras at 8 p.m. His audience will be enthusiastic, no doubt. But polling suggests the Wisconsin lawmaker is not the reigning star here. A new Suffolk University survey of likely Iowa voters finds that their favorite was the aforementioned Mr. Huckabee, followed by Mr. Paul, Jeb Bush. Mr. Cruz, Ben Carson and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Mr. Ryan is tied in seventh place with Sen. Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sarah Palin, Condoleezza Rice and Rick Santorum.

STILL HATING CONGRESS

“Americans’ approval of Congress is at 13 percent in April, inching down from 15 percent in March, and currently standing only four percentage points higher than the all-time low of 9 percent in November 2013,” says Gallup Poll analyst Justin McCarthy, who is tracking all that dismal stuff.

“Divided party control — which is one reason Congress’ ratings are so low — makes it harder for voters to direct their frustrations at a specific party on Election Day,” Mr. McCarthy continues. “Another factor that could spare incumbents from major losses is that midterms generally play out as a referendum on the sitting president. So, it could be that President Obama’s job rating in the fall will be much more important than Congress.”

Eleven states hold their primary elections in May, with more to come in June.

“The extent to which incumbency has become a liability may be most evident in races where an incumbent is fighting off a challenger within his or her own political party, and thus Obama won’t be a factor,” he adds.

THE PERILS OF COLBERT

Will he be Stephen Colbert — or Stephen Colbert imitating Bill O’Reilly when he replaces David Letterman? Oh, the complicated drama, the multiple scenarios when one late night host replaces another. Journalists are orbiting around news that Comedy Central’s Mr. Colbert would take over for CBS’ Mr. Letterman when he retires next year. When the big change comes, will Mr. Colbert actually be himself as he promises, or continue as the distinctive on-camera character he developed to parody Fox News’ Mr. O’Reilly?

Complicated, yes. But fraught with peril too.

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