Washington, DC – Republicans gathered this past weekend for the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C. – a premier annual venue for activist, conservative Republicans across the country who help influence and decide presidential primaries. These are important, dedicated opinion leaders who have toiled for decades to enjoy what they do today: an ascendant conservative GOP slowly but surely gaining power at the local, state and federal levels.
From a national standpoint, many attendees said Newt Gingrich did particularly well, and a large crowd showed up for a Newt stem-winder – and he did not disappoint. Gingrich, without question, is on an upwards path in the GOP world because there is a focus back on his ideas and issues agenda – not his personality. Gingrich’s star is back on the rise, as is Virginia GOP Senator George Allen, who appears to be emerging as a conservative favorite in the nascent but active 2008 presidential primary.
From a New York State perspective, Secretary of State Randy Daniels emerged as a big winner in the buzz department due to the fact that Human Events, an influential conservative digest, wrote a glowing, laudatory piece on him the day before the CPAC conference convened.
Daniels, who told Human Events that he intends to run for Governor in 2006 if incumbent George Pataki opts to forego running for a fourth term, is said by the publication to be “light years ahead in pursuit of the nomination than either of the two fellow GOPers mentioned for Governor – Lt. Gov. Mary Donohue and Rep. John Sweeney, who, the article points out, maintains an 88% lifetime rating form the American Conservative Union (ACU).
The fact the Daniels camp was able to orchestrate a positive article in a major national conservative publication the day prior to the gathering reflects an impressive level of media sophistication, observers said.
Following the CPAC event, Empire Page had the opportunity to interview Mike Long, Chairman of the New York State Conservative Party, who was in Washington for the annual conference. The following are excerpts from the interview.
EP: As the 2008 contenders have already begun beating the bushes here at the CPAC Conference and in New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina and elsewhere, has anyone caught your eye?
Long: Yes, one of them would be Senator Allen from Virginia, who I think is slowly making a name for himself in conservative circles. I think he possesses the same core beliefs – he’s his own man – but I think he possesses the real basic core beliefs of the Reagan Republican philosophy. I think he’s very firm and presents himself in a soft effective way, not in an arrogant way, and he’s able to hold his ground. I recently saw him on Nightline and when times didn’t look good for him – the positions he was taking [on Iraq] – he held his ground, and he does so intelligently and by using core convictions. I like him, and he’s impressive.
EP: NY GOP Chairman Steve Minarik has been taking quite a bit of heat on a variety of fronts as of late. Do you have any advice you’d like to offer?
Long: I don’t give other chairman advice as a general rule. One has to be true to themselves – if he’s comfortable with his statements and actions, he’s got to take the fight on. But both he and I have a problem – and he is a good conservative. We both have a problem because I think he is more conservative than most of the elected members of the Republican Party – and he has a real problem in the City of New York where he’s got a so-called registered Republican running for reelection as Mayor, and he’s about as far from being a real Republican as you can be.
EP: It sounds like Conservatives have no enthusiasm whatsoever for Mayor Bloomberg
Long: I don’t know how any Republican or any Conservative could support Mayor Bloomberg. After all, he gave us a large tax increase on almost everything – personal income taxes, city sales taxes, property taxes… he’s for gay marriage, he’s wrong on all the social issues, and he’s walking away from the President of the United States on even entertaining the possible reform of social security for the future of our country, and the future of our young people. He’s a Republican in name only; he’s worse than a Republican in name only – he’s a Republican as a matter of convenience. On a personal level, he’s a nice person – that’s true, but he’s certainly wrong on every issue, and I don’t know how any real Republican can be supporting him for Mayor.
Gordon Hensley conducted interview for empirepage.com, and appears courtesy of empirepage.com.