- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 18, 2020

CPAC happens. No matter what.

The annual Conservative Political Action Conference roars to life despite hysteria in the liberal media, questionable behavior on Capitol Hill or melodrama on the campaign trail. Isn’t that refreshing? And the countdown is on. CPAC 2020 opens in exactly one week, which is 168 hours or so, for those who are really in the mood to keep track.

The four-day event is staged by the American Conservative Union, a force guided by the formidable but cheerful and exquisitely strategic chairman Matt Schlapp. The venue of choice is once again at the Gaylord National Resort, a beautifully spot on the Potomac River five miles south of the nation’s capital.

The combination is a huge draw: In the last three years alone, over 60,000 people have attended CPAC’s programs and high-energy boot camps. It’s productive fare. In that same amount of time, this massive event has generated 75,000 articles from assorted news organizations. In the social media universe, 28 million people viewed the last two CPACs live on Twitter, 8 million more viewed the event on YouTube and Facebook, and millions more watched CPAC via broadcast and cable coverage.

Organizers, meanwhile, are discreet about certain aspects of their speakers list; Inside the Beltway quietly notes that President Trump has been on the CPAC podium since his campaign days and sources say he will indeed return this year. That said, the current speakers’ roster also includes scores of lawmakers, senior administration officials (both current and former), authors, determined activists, surprise celebrities, media personalities and, uh, some genuine journalists.



In addition, the organizers take care to engage the many young conservatives who arrive with the kind of enthusiasm which would have pleased President Reagan.

And of course, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah — the sole Republican who voted in favor of an impeachment article against Mr. Trump — still has a distinct status: “Formally NOT invited,” CPAC advises.

BLOOMBERG’S BIG DEBUT IN VEGAS

NBC and MSNBC host a Democratic debate Wednesday night in Las Vegas for a half dozen White House hopefuls, including Michael R. Bloomberg. This marks his formal debate debut, and he has spent $418 million to get here.

“Whether Bloomberg is actually looking forward to debating is, well, debatable. His strategy to coast along, writing his own narrative with a few hundred million dollars in advertising has allowed him to foster his message unchallenged in front of a national audience. His Democratic competitors have taken shots at him, but in the form of sound bites or angry tweets, nothing has had much of an effect to slow down his growing momentum,” says Nate Ashworth, editor of ElectionCentral.com.

“It is for that reason alone some progressives have wanted to see Bloomberg make the debate stage so he has to defend his record face-to-face with his opponents. Wednesday night in Las Vegas will offer the first opportunity Bloomberg’s competitors have to attack him in person and the first time he’ll have to defend his prior policies, statements, and positions while standing in front of a live national television audience,” Mr. Ashworth observes.

TRUMP HOLDS STEADY

Yet another poll finds that President Trump has maintained his very promising favorability ratings in a post-impeachment era.

“President Trump’s approval rating has held steady since the time he received an approval bump following his acquittal during the Senate impeachment trial and his State of the Union address,” reports a new Hill/HarrisX poll.

The numbers: Mr. Trump’s approval stands at 49%, with 51% disapproval. Party loyalty is healthy, with 86% of GOP voters smiling on the president.

Support among independent voters ticked up slightly to 46%, though the increase is within the poll’s margin of error. Support among Democratic voters has held at 19%, the poll analysis said. Support from voters 35 to 49 years old jumped 5 percentage points to 56%; among men, the president registered 58% support, among women it’s 40%.

Mr. Trump’s reelection could come down to a single percentage point, according to one learned source.

“If he’s able to break through 50% approval, in large part by appealing to more women voters, then Trump will be well-positioned entering the general election,” advises Dritan Nesho, CEO and founder of HarrisX, which conducted the survey of 1,001 U.S. voters Feb. 14-15 for The Hill.

BY THE TIME HE GETS TO PHOENIX

President Trump journeys to Phoenix on Wednesday for another signature campaign rally — a jumbo event which is brimming with good cheer and much camaraderie among Trump fans. The Phoenix Police Department advises that the event starts at 7 p.m. MST, “but crowds are expected as early as 6 a.m.”

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey will greet Mr. Trump upon his local arrival aboard Air Force One, and he will accompany the president to the rally venue.

“The appearance in Arizona comes at a high point for Trump, who is enjoying a strong economy and has the impeachment trial behind him. Ducey’s support for the president also appears at an all-time high,” notes The Arizona Republic, recalling that the governor did not personally welcome or meet with Mr. Trump when he arrived in the state as a candidate in 2015.

That was then. Things are quite cordial between the two these days.

Protesters are also expected, par for the course for any Trump rally. The assorted groups — which have a designated areas for marching and assembly — include Punete Human Rights Movement, which has a “long history” of protesting in the region according to The Arizona Republic, expressing their dismay with former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Senate Bill 1070, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

POLL DU JOUR

53% of U.S. adults would prefer to live in a community where houses are “larger and farther apart.”

71% of Republican conservatives agree, along with 69% of rural residents, 65% of Republicans overall, 58% of moderate Republicans, 51% of suburbanites, 48% of moderate Democrats, 42% of Democrats overall, 40% of urban residents and 35% of liberal Democrats agree.

47% of U.S. adults overall would prefer to live in a community where houses are “smaller and closer to each other.”

65% of liberal Democrats agree, along with 60% of urban residents, 58% of Democrats overall, 52% of moderate Democrats, 48% of suburbanites, 41% of moderate Republicans, 34% of Republicans overall, 30% of rural residents, and 29% of Republican conservatives.

Source: A Pew Research Center poll of 9,895 U.S. adults conducted Sept. 13-15, 2019 and released Tuesday.

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