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Conservatives Give Bush Top Marks

Sunday, 03 February 2002 12:00 AM

"The two percent unfavorable response was because we let the media vote,” joked pollster Tony Fabrizio of Fabrizio and McLaughlin and Associates.

The high level of approval came despite a headline in a widely circulated issue of the conservative weekly "Human Events,” which read, "Say It Ain’t So, George.” The article, while praising the president’s leadership and conservative initiatives this past year, expressed disappointment with some domestic spending plans listed in his speech.

Others at the CPAC conference, notably radio talkshow host Sean Hannity, expressed the same reservations while giving Bush high marks overall.

Vice President Cheney scored 94 percent, with Attorney General John Ashcroft and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld close behind.

Among the congressional leaders, Reps. J.C. Watts, R-Okla., and Dick Armey, R-Tex., led the pack at 75 percent each, with Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Tex., (71 percent) and House Speaker Dennis Dastert, R-Ill., (70 percent) as runners-up.

Though Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., scored 66 percent approval, his 20 percent unfavorable rating seemed to reflect widespread conservative belief that his compromises with Democrats since the GOP gained control in 1994 ultimately helped lead to a Democratic takeover in 2001.

Pollster Fabrizio said he was "shocked” that the rock solid conservatives responding to the poll gave New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani an 85 percent approval and only an 8 percent unfavorable vote.

While Giuliani scored big time with conservatives, and Americans in general, with his leadership post-9/11, as well as his anti-crime initiatives, it was thought his stand on such issues as gay rights and abortion would net him lower approval ratings with a CPAC audience.

Author/commentator and sometime politician Pat Buchanan managed an approval only slightly better that his unfavorable scoring at CPAC, 49 percent vs. 42 percent, respectively, possibly a reflection of his decision in 2000 to bolt the GOP.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was the only Republican to net a higher unfavorable than favorable ranking (55 percent vs. 38 percent), not too far behind the strong unfavorable rankings for Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura (60 percent) and CBS News anchor Dan Rather (68 percent).

Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., is the retiring member of Congress who will be missed most by the respondents at CPAC, followed by Armey, Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C. and Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Tex.

The most important issue in the opinion of those polled was fighting terrorism. Next were cutting taxes and reducing wasteful federal spending.

In the war on terrorism, 50 percent favor going after Iraq next, while 25 percent would target sub-national terrorist groups. The next step in the overall fight, they believe should be to go after terrorist training camps (51 percent), followed by tightening immigration laws (34 percent). Homeland security should be the top Justice Department priority (95 percent).

The biggest shocker to Fabrizio was the finding that 70 percent of those who cast their ballots, many with libertarian views in other areas, would be willing to surrender some traditional freedoms to give the government additional powers to fight terrorism, whereas only 29 percent would not.

Handicapping the Democrats’ 2004 presidential race, Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., is believed by a plurality of respondents to be the most likely nominee (27 percent), followed by Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., (14 percent) and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., (11 percent).

While terrorism, taxes and spending pushed education to a lower priority in the poll, the wife of Vice President Dick Cheney gave it top rating in her speech at the final conference session. Her specific target was the widespread student ignorance of American history.

Lynne Cheney, a recognized scholar in her own right, noted that "not one, not a single one of the fifty-five elite colleges and universities where students were polled -- not one -- requires a course in American History.”

The nation’s second lady said this is not just because of the leftist pressures on the campus, but also because there is very little professional incentive for publishing articles on "broadly conceived” subjects such as U.S. history.

"Changing the reward system for higher education” and persuading every state to implement history standards are likely to take a very long time, but still well worth the effort, Cheney told CPAC.

This is especially true, she said, when one considers surveys showing college graduates without knowledge of the words of the Gettysburg Address or the constitutional separation of powers between the states and the federal government, or who think Ulysses S. Grant was in command at Yorktown.

At the Friday night annual Ronald Reagan Banquet, CPAC bestowed its Charlton Heston Award for "Courage Under Fire” to top-rated radio talkshow host Rush Limbaugh. The honor was not only for the famous talker’s heroic battle against deafness, but also for his perseverance and success despite "smears” from the left.

Limbaugh whose sessions with his doctors prevented him from attending the banquet, sent a letter to the dinner crediting his wife Marta and his "entire staff” for "placing my desire to continue my radio show despite being totally deaf above their own priorities.” These people, he said, "should either share the award, if not receive it outright themselves.”

Elaine Donnelly, President of the Center For Military Preparedness, was honored with CPAC’s coveted annual Ronald Reagan award.

Donnelly’s activism began in the seventies when, as a young housewife in Michigan, she feared the so-called Equal Rights Amendment would ultimately result in her two little girls being drafted and sent off to war. She has been a persistent thorn in the side of radical feminists who have tried to push women into combat roles.

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The two percent unfavorable response was because we let the media vote," joked pollster Tony Fabrizio of Fabrizio and McLaughlin and Associates. The high level of approval came despite a headline in a widely circulated issue of the conservative weekly Human Events,"...
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2002-00-03
Sunday, 03 February 2002 12:00 AM
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