6:04pm: Just got done with a lengthy panel about 'building a conservative Hispanic coalition. This is a tough one--lots of ad hom attacks going on on both sides. Generally, we need secure borders, but everyone who wants to come here, live & abide by the law, ought to be able to come. I think part of the solution here is coming up with an easier legal way to immigrate.
And honestly, we're not going to deport or force people to deport themselves. Even if it were possible (which I doubt) we would lose a valuable ally--especially on moral & family issues--life, marriage, etc.
2:44pm: Word is that CPAC attendance is up 40% over last year--9000 vs. 7000. This affirms my earlier, superficial observation that people seemed to have recovered from the bad news of November 2008.
And they love Huck. From where I'm seated on blogger row, I can see the line stretched around the exhibition hall of people waiting, book in hand, to get it signed by the honorable former governor of Arkansas.
It will be interesting to see what sort of reception Mitt gets. IIRC, he won the straw poll here last year.
2:36pm EST: Just got done listening to Mike Huckabee & Mike Pence. Gotta get all the Mikes out of the way.
Huck knows how to work a crowd. He made a pretty compelling argument against those who have argued that fiscal, social, & foreign policy--what he called, "fiscal, family, & freedom conservatives"--can and should remain together because collectively, they hold great appeal to a majority of Americans--that it was enough for a governing majority.
Pointed out that even in states Obama won, affirmation of marriage carried the day--Florida & California being the obvious ones.
After a bit of a late start, I'm on the ground at CPAC. This place is packed with conservatives of all ages. It seems as though most people have gotten over the 2008 Presidential election hangover as enthusiasm is high. I know I say this all the time, but we are happy warriors, after all. Sorry, Barry, conservatives have always been the party of optimism.
The first speaker I had a chance to hear was Michael Barone. Like everyone else, he thinks there's a good chance Republicans pick up some seats in 2010. He also believes that Republicans have a chance a knocking off New Jersey Governor, Jon Corzine, in 2009.
Matt arrives late tonight. I'm going to see if I can get him to add his own updates tomorrow & Saturday.
Per my RNC model, check back for regular updates throughout the day.
If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.