- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Republican Party is delicately measuring the dimensions of the proverbial “big tent,” seeking to preserve its principles while plumbing the proper strategies to expand voter appeal among libertarians, disaffected Democrats, conflicted moderates, assorted ethnicities and women, among other groups. Now it’s the tea party’s turn, and civility appears to be part of the thinking.

“In order for us to be a bigger party, we have to reach out to more people, not just those of us here. It has to be a bigger party, it has to be a bigger movement. There are times, and I don’t think it is our movement, but there are times when people are using language that shouldn’t be used,” Sen. Rand Paul told a bustling crowd assembled in the nation’s capital for the tea party’s fifth anniversary.

“We can disagree with the president without calling him names,” the Kentucky Republican said, adding, “our message has to be a happy message, one of optimism, one of growth.”

Ah, but it’s a tricky business. Consider that one Republican strategist recently told Inside the Beltway that at this juncture, the ideal Republican candidate is “a fighter.” Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee has already launched an aggressive “Voter Expansion Project,” even as the party adopts an unapologetic war footing. The take-away: Compile those big tent dimensions carefully, folks. Measure twice and cut once.

MR. HUCKABEE EMERGES

What’s this? Mike Huckabee has bested all manner of his Republican rivals in a new Public Policy Polling survey gauging the sentiments of 869 Iowa voters. In a nine-man field. Mr. Huckabee garnered 17 percent of voter support, followed by Sen. Rand Paul (14 percent), Jeb Bush (13 percent), Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Ted Cruz (both with 10 percent), Rep. Paul Ryan (9 percent), Govs. Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal (both with 7 percent) and Sen. Marco Rubio (3 percent.)

Oh, yes. “Someone else/not sure” pulled in 11 percent of voter interest, while 48 percent of Iowa conservatives backed Mr. Huckabee. His nearest competitor in that demographic — Mr. Paul — pulled in 26 percent.

AND IN SUMMATION

“As America retreats around the world, Russia moves to fill the vacuum. But don’t worry: John Kerry has the global warming situation totally under control.”

— Powerline.com founder John Hinderaker.

FOR THE LEXICON

“The Christie Watch”

— A new blog launched by The Nation to cover “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the tea party and the GOP’s 2016 civil war.” Yes, the progressive folk are watching closely.

ONE FOR THE HEROES

It warms the heart. Yes it does. A pair of Irishmen — that would be the inimitable tenor Anthony Kearns and legendary steeplechase jockey Sean Clancy — are determined to raise a nice bundle of cash for the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes and Boulder Crest Retreat this weekend. Both organizations provide financial aid, kind respite, solid support and appreciation to veterans who have been severely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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