- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 29, 2020

Conservative activists believe Sen. Bernard Sanders is the most dangerous potential opponent for President Trump in this year’s election, according to the CPAC-Washington Times poll, released Saturday at the largest annual gathering of conservatives.

A little more than a third of the activists who voted said they’re most worried about Mr. Sanders and his democratic socialist ideas.

“He’s doing the best job of actually addressing the most basic needs for most people,” said Michael Sisco, 32, campaign manager for a GOP Senate candidate in Delaware. “His solutions suck, but he’s at least talking about the concerns of the majority of Americans, especially millennial, middle America working-class people.”

The poll showed billionaire former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was second most feared opponent, with 23% citing him as the top danger. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden trailed in third at 9%.

Another 19% of the activists said they aren’t worried about any of the field of candidates.

The poll was completed by 1,336 activists at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which has taken place in suburban Maryland over the last few days.

CPAC attendees were deeply supportive of Mr. Trump, but they are no longer fans of Sen. Mitt Romney, a one-time darling of CPAC who burned bridges when he voted to convict and remove the president from office.

A stunning 78% of CPAC poll-takers called him a “typical political opportunist” for the vote. Just 16% saw it as a principled stand and believe Mr. Romney to be an important voice in the GOP.

He fared almost as badly as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who followed up impeachment by tearing up her copy of the president’s State of the Union speech — behavior that, according to 84% of CPAC attendees, should earn her immediate retirement so someone else can move the country forward.

Yet the conservatives showed a lenient streak when it came to issues.

An overwhelming majority — 62% — said people convicted of non-violent, non-sex crimes who have finished their time and kept a clean record for seven years should have their conviction cleared.

Activists ranked solving immigration and building the border wall as their top priority, followed by protecting constitutional rights and tackling spending.

When asked which immigration policy is most important, a staggering 68% said building the wall and securing the border. Arresting illegal immigrants trailed far behind in second place at just 17%, and just 11% said expanding legal immigration was key. Another 3% said the priority should be to legalize illegal immigrant “Dreamers.”

But the activists say immigration is only the second biggest threat to America’s safety. The top spot went to the rising economic power of China.

The poll asked activists what constitutional amendment they would like to see added. A balanced budget was the clear winner at 45%, followed by overturning the Roe v. Wade decision that established a national right to abortion, which garnered 32% support.

The poll did show an undercurrent of discontent with the Trump administration’s penchant for government spending.

More than three-quarters of the activists said the GOP needs to return to fiscal discipline.

“I think they need to do a better job of living within their means,” said Teresa Seifert, 62, a college professor from southern Maryland. “For example, they say ‘oh, they’re cutting the budget’…in reality, they never cut the budget. They’re just cutting the increases. The budget itself never really gets cut.”

Adding a balanced budget amendment was the top choice among activists when asked what amendment they wanted to see added to the Constitution.

“I had to balance my budget. Our household income fell 65% in 2009. I had to figure out how to make it work. If I can do it, the government can do it,” said William Trausch, 62, a bank worker from Cleveland.

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