- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Over 10,000 attendees can’t be wrong: The annual Conservative Political Action Conference is an inspiring event, now underway in a glittering hotel on the shores of the Potomac. Beloved CPAC draws an eclectic, intense audience from around the nation, there to bear witness to 126 speakers and 160 separate events. CPAC is a draw for all ages, a forum for the many interpretations of true conservatism. But there are unifying interests as well — love of country, respect for founding values. Some folks seek reassurance that the old ways and original tenets have not been forgotten. Some seek reassurance that those ways and tenets have enough steel and moxie to survive the rough ride into an uncertain future.

All that flowery talk aside, the organizers of this phenomenon deserve much credit for, well, organizing this massive phenomenon, which bridges politics, culture and activism. Doors open Thursday at 8:30 a.m., and the first person to stride across the massive ballroom stage is slated to be Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, followed 20 minutes later by Sen. Joni Ernst. In two hours, the audience will behold 10 more speakers, including Rep. Ryan Zinke, Sens. Ben Sasse and Tim Scott, Rick Santorum, John R. Bolton and Gary Johnson — the Libertarian Party candidate for president.

And that’s before noon.

For conservatives, CPAC is both a dazzling spectacle and the real deal, entrances and exits of luminaries punctuated by big music and patriotic lighting. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin makes an appearance. A late-afternoon “Power Hour” includes a dozen conservative House members and five senators; Fox News host Sean Hannity is the closing speaker, to be followed by a debate watch party when the eleventh GOP prime-time bout gets underway on Fox News. And that’s just Thursday. Of note: C-SPAN will cover CPAC, beginning at 9 a.m. ET

FOR THE LEXICON

“Make America Awesome (America is already great)”


SEE ALSO: Rivals’ alliance is easiest way to force brokered convention, stop Trump nomination


— A Virginia-based super PAC which has mounted a public petition calling upon the American Conservative Union to “revoke Donald Trump’s invitation to speak at CPAC,” predicting his presence “will do huge and lasting reputational damage” to the organization.

THE LIBERTARIAN VERSION OF SUPER TUESDAY

The likely Libertarian Party nominee for president took a look at the results of Super Tuesday, and came away with a single thought. “I actually believe I may have won Super Tuesday,” says Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico who ran for the White House in 2012 and managed to snag 1.2 million votes in the process. His campaign this time around is underway.

“With the Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton trains becoming more and more unstoppable in their respective parties, I believe a real majority of American voters are going to be left without a political home in November,” Mr. Johnson continues. “To those millions of voters, a successful two-term governor with a solid record of fiscal responsibility and defense of civil and personal liberties could well be the mainstream option.”

Left out of the official presidential debate process, Mr. Johnson recently sued the Presidential Debate Commission hoping to win a spot on the big stage, to no avail — yet. He points out, however, that the Libertarian nominee will be on the ballot in every state in November.

“I hope to be that nominee,” he says. “Both of the major parties are succeeding in alienating more voters than ever before. The Democrat establishment is effectively shutting down its challengers, and Republicans are clearly rejecting their establishment. The net result may be that more Americans than ever before will be looking to a truly independent, experienced and proven candidate.”

TRUMP, THE NEXT VERSION

“Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio ended Super Tuesday with enough wins or delegates to stay in the race — and both have pledged to remain — so it’s too late for a gentlemen’s agreement among them to arrive at a single alternative,” says Grant Reeher, a Syracuse University political professor who notes that the big night did not resolve much on the campaign trail.

“But the confusion got a lot clearer,” says Mr. Reeher.

“The most likely hope for a Republican nominee other than Trump now rests on a brokered convention. It will be interesting to see whether Trump, looking ahead to the general election, will become more presidential, or whether he’ll stay true to the brash and reckless formula that brought him to this point,” says the professor.

PEACE FOR EVERYBODY

A record 376 nominations have been submitted for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, including the likes of Donald Trump and Pope Francis. The previous record was 278 candidates, nominated in 2014.

“We live in a world where there are a lot of conflicts and where there are also a certain number of processes that are heading in a more positive direction. Clearly, this has inspired a lot of people to exercise their right to nominate someone,” Olav Njolstad, director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, tells Agence France Presse.

AL’S SAGE ADVICE

Well that’s simple enough. Al Cardenas — the straightforward former chairman of the American Conservative Union — has some advice for two remaining GOP presidential hopefuls pondering how to foil front-runner Donald Trump. Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio need to make a decision.

“Stop D Trump? It’s time for Cruz & Rubio to flip a coin. Either form a ticket or loser of coin toss gets out. May be too late even for that,” Mr. Cardenas tweeted Wednesday.

POLL DU JOUR

60 percent of Americans say e-cigarettes should be regulated as much as tobacco cigarettes.

48 percent say e-cigarettes are “not as bad” as tobacco cigarettes, but are still harmful.

49 percent think e-cigarettes should be regulated less than tobacco cigarettes.

40 percent think they could be harmful to the environment.

33 percent say e-cigarettes are as harmful as tobacco cigarettes.

14 percent say e-cigarettes are “helpful;” 11 percent say they are not harmful.

Source: A Gallup poll of 13,648 U.S. adults conducted Dec. 1-30, 2015 and released Wednesday.

Brouhaha and ballyhoo to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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