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April 15, 2015

Can Conservatives Unite Around One Candidate?


But it looks like some want to try.

A secretive group that serves as the umbrella operation for leaders and activists within the conservative movement will host two meetings in the coming months, National Journal has learned, the first to vet Republican presidential candidates and the second to discuss coalescing behind one of them.

The Council for National Policy, a shadowy organization of several hundred dues-paying members, typically meets three times a year in various locations around the country. But with the 2016 cycle accelerating, and many conservative leaders intent on rallying behind a single candidate, CNP's leadership is taking extraordinary measures – scheduling two top-priority meetings outside of Washington, D.C., and inviting a large number of non-members to both.

First of all, I love that the group is "secretive" and "shadowy" but allows outsiders in. Oh and reporters know all about them, their members and their meetings.

Moving along...

The group will host a two-day summit on May 15 and 16 at the Ritz-Carlton in Tyson's Corner, Virginia. The format will be simple: Candidates will have an hour on stage to address the room and answer questions, followed by 30 minutes of meet-and-greet with guests. Organizers say they've begun sending invitations to all of the major Republican candidates – "even Chris Christie," one said – and several candidates have already committed to the event.

Um, hold on. If the goal is to find an non-establishment candidate (which the subhead of the piece says it is but not so much in the body) who are they rallying against? Jeb? Rubio? I've asked the reporter, I'll see if there's an answer.

Anyway, put this specific group aside. The idea of "getting behind a single conservative to take on the establishment" is a long held goal. In theory. The problem is, what if *we* decide the guy to rally behind isn't one *I* can live with?

One of the main advantages "the establishment" has is they care mainly about winning. Winning means ensuring the right people have the right jobs and things run pretty much as they always have but they, instead of the Democrat establishment, hand out the goodies.

Movement conservatives and their candidate-champions on the other hand care about changing more than who sits in the seats. They want to implement actual ideas. Ideas mean disagreements.

According to this story the head of the group this time around is Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. Other members include leaders of groups like the Club for Growth and Citizens United.

Good luck finding a candidate they both agree on.

Is it possible? Theoretically. But it will require compromise. The FRC is going to like guys like Huckabee and Santorum. Club for Growth types? Not so much.

Even if the DC conservative types can agree on say a Walker or a Cruz (the two candidates who strike me as having the best crossover potential) does that translate to people in Iowa and New Hampshire trudging through the snow to vote for "the chosen one"?

I have my doubts.

When people say, "we should rally around a single candidate" what they really mean is, "you should forget about the idiot you are supporting and vote for the guy I like."

There are too many candidates who are laying claim to too many areas that people care about. They are very unlikely to put their strongly held desires aside to make others happy. And so we will have a clown show and Jeb will win the nomination because they are disciplined and devoid of concern about anything but power.

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posted by DrewM. at 12:56 PM

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