If CPAC 2015 is any indicator, we are in for an exciting, wide open presidential primary. Foreign policy will be the focal point, and social issues will be approached differently than they were in 2012. Here are my takeaways:
1.) We need a Churchill, not a Reagan. The candidates seem to know that war is already upon us, and that we cannot prevent it. They feel that we need to elect a wartime president, not a president who can prevent a war. Therefore, a Churchill not a Reagan. They see Obama as a Neville Chamberlain, who has pursued a policy of appeasement toward ISIS just as Chamberlain did with Nazi Germany. Candidates touted foreign policy credentials just as much or more than they did domestic accomplishments.
2.) Walker Surging. Scott Walker just about ended Rand Paul’s winning streak, a major accomplishment. RCP has him as the frontrunner, and Larry Sabato says that he is one of only two top-tier candidates. At this point, Paul is the strongest polling conservative in the race. The question remains: is he a flavor-of-the-month candidate, or a serious contender of whom Jeb Bush should have nightmares?
3.) Dark Horses Emerge. Rick Santorum is one of my top picks for 2016, and he gave a rousing speech, highlighting his strong record on foreign policy, and established himself as a credible contender for the Hawk vote, not just the social conservative vote. Another dark horse is Carly Fiorina, who was unknown before CPAC. Now she is a conservative sensation. Her speech tore apart Hillary Clinton and threw red meat to every sector of the base (after all, that’s what CPAC is for). She will be taken seriously as a contender for the white house.
4.) Jeb survives (mostly). Jeb gave a decent speech, and bused in supporters to give him a boost in the straw poll. But one shouldn’t have to fake support, nor should one have to declare oneself their own man, and certainly shouldn’t be on the defensive with the base. I was disappointed with Jeb Bush.