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CPAC Quandary: Does Compromise Hurt Conservative Cause?

Image: CPAC Quandary: Does Compromise Hurt Conservative Cause?

By    |   Monday, 03 Mar 2014 12:08 PM

As an expected 10,000 conservatives head to Washington this week for the 41st annual Conservative Political Action Conference, many of the nation's most prominent Republicans say they doubt the party's leaders are doing all they can to advance the conservative cause.

Decades of compromises on the part of the national party have brought government expansion, spending growth, and intrusion into the private lives of Americans, conservatives told The Washington Times, and the problems don't seem to be going away.

With CPAC, the party differences will be highlighted not only in discussion rooms but on a national stage heading into this year's midterm elections, which in many cases are pitting incumbent Republicans against tea party-backed candidates.

The big debate at this year's conference will again be over the best tactics to advance the conservative cause and how often to engage in "lost causes" such as filibusters launched by Sen. Ted Cruz and others, which meet with protest from more moderate Republicans.

Some conservatives are seeing the moves as setting the "temperature" for the party, instead of compromising.

But standing on principle to block legislation does not always conflict with party goals, Iowa Republican Chairman Ed Martin told The Times.

"Our voters are glad someone is standing up to fight," Martin said. "It is better to fight, even when you know you’ll probably lose, because that way our elected Republicans show they take their limited-government promises to voters seriously and are at least taking risks to achieve change."

There is also the issue of Republicans whom some conservatives deride as "Republicans in name only," whose votes are not always conservative-leaning. The phrase is divisive as the midterm elections near, says former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a potential 2016 presidential candidate.

But many conservatives consider some of the key Republican incumbent leaders too willing to compromise with Democrats.

Many of those dismissed as being "RINOs" actually have strong conservative voting records. For example, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio is often the focus of conservative-circle complaints, but in fact the American Conservative Union, which sponsors CPAC, gave him a 90 percent lifetime voting rating before he became the speaker.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has a 90 percent ACU rating, and the Senate's second-ranking Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, rates at 93 percent.

But critics say unrated procedural votes make them different from Republicans like Cruz or Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, because people like Cornyn and McConnell often compromise with Democrats.

The differing stances on compromise are also leading to intra-party arguments, which will also likely be a CPAC topic for discussion.

For example, last fall, Sen. John McCain of Arizona said Cruz "was on a fool's errand" for instigating the government shutdown.

Even Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, who enforces the party's no-taxes pledge, disagreed with Cruz's actions last fall.

Cruz "said he would deliver Democratic votes, and he didn’t. He pushed House Republicans into traffic and wandered off," Norquist said.

But compromise costs Republicans their seats in many cases, Pastors and Pews founder David Lane told the Times.

"Compromise cost them the White House in 1992," Lane said. "Reagan won re-election in 1984 with 49 states; [George W. Bush] needed the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000 and Ohio in 2004."

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As an expected 10,000 conservatives head to Washington this week for the 41st annual Conservative Political Action Conference, many of the nation's most prominent Republicans say they doubt the party's leaders are doing all they can to advance the conservative cause.
CPAC,conservative,tea party,conference
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2014-08-03
Monday, 03 Mar 2014 12:08 PM
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