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The 2016 GOP Field, Romney, and The Western Conservative Summit

Monday, July 21, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

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Western Conservative Summit

I left Denver Saturday night for vacation, after attending and speaking to/teaching for the Western Conservative Summit 2016 and the Young Conservative Leadership Summit. I was especially encouraged by the impressive turnout –3,500 Saturday night– for what has become the “CPAC of the Summer in the Rockies,” and by the quality of the 120 16-20 year olds I spent teaching for the entire week prior.  Next year I expect the numbers for both WCS and YCLS to double and more, and for the WCS ’15 to actually explode in attendance as every major would-be president figures out what Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Bobby Jindal and Sarah Palin figured out this year: If you want to be in the mix for 2016 and among conservative leadership, you have to attend and speak to thousands of activists assembled.  Memo to candidates, consultants, and activists all: Book early for next year.

As part of the #YCLS I ran four mock Iowa caucuses of approximately 30 students each time.  Cruz won a narrow majority of the young folks after they all argued and debated each other for an hour each time, but with respectable showings for Chris Christie, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, and Scott Walker.  Two of the 120 were die-hard Rick Perry people.  One lone fellow argued Ohio Governor John Kasich’s case (no, it wasn’t me) and everyone else struck out.  Seems the young folk liked the Cruz filibuster –a lot.  Of course it is very early, but like other straws in the wind, this Cruz-centric crowd left an impression because these folks committed a week of their summer (sure there was white-water rafting and afternoons off) to politics and Con Law for smart young people.  Early indicators are encouraging for the Texas senator who keynoted the big Summit on Saturday night and brought the crowd to its feet.  (As did Jindal the night before, and my students found me on Saturday to talk about just how impressed they had been with Jindal who had not a single supporter in all the mock caucuses.  That is what campaigning does.)

Thanks to Senator Bill Armstrong who is president of Colorado Christian University and Senator John Andrews who is the head of the Centennial Institute that sponsors both the Youth Leadership and Western Conservative summits.  They have spent five years building an important event which is now growing exponentially.  Visit CCU.edu, The Centennial Institute website, the Western Conservative Summit 2015 webpage as soon as it is up and running, but if you are part of Team Anyone hoping to be the nominee in 2016, track down John Andrews and ask for the Saturday night slot now. Next year’s straw poll will be a news event –the new “Ames poll.”

Speaking of 2016, my Washington Examiner column today reflects the growing Romney buzz.  The Romney-haters have already told me how terrible an idea this is, but I merely report what is real: There is a growing demand among not just his hardest core supporters but by influencers across the ideological spectrum who see the need for an experienced candidate to take on Hillary and the left.  As the column notes, I haven’t spoken or emailed with Governor Romney for months, and all I’ve ever heard him say is “No, no, no, no, no,” on my show and in every venue.  But there it was all week in Colorado and especially this weekend among the activists: “What do you hear about Romney?”  The answer is in the column.  What I also hear is a selective reading of history when people bring up Stassen and not Reagan when it comes to multiple nominations, and when people forget the repeated tries of Nixon, Dole, Taft and Dewey.  The record is mixed for those who had the nomination once and lost, but the idea that it is impossible, well, that just doesn’t reflect the record or the fact that everything has changed except, per usual, the conventional wisdom.

As noted, I am off for two weeks, painting sunflowers and reading Michael Oren (see below).  The world is in crisis and I haven’t left you alone, however, with the Daily Caller’s Jamie Weinstein and Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey doing back-to-back weeks of guest hosting so that the breaking news is always covered.  My thanks in advance to both gentlemen, pros of the first order, though Ed is sadly a Steelers fan and on the wrong side of history.  Of course I dropped this new Romney-related column and  Politico Magazine border kids article on them and then bolted for the back porch.  Not all of the hundreds of comments on the latter have been positive.  Only fair to set up the shows this way.

One last island of diversion amid the war that Israel must win and the pariah status that Russia and Putin have earned: The SI story on LeBron.  Enjoy.  And pray for the IDF and civilians as the battle terrorists who use civilians as shields and would not hesitate to use any weapon it could obtain to kill as many Jews as they could.  If anyone lacks clarity on the morality of Israel’s action, they are sadly without a compass as to what faces the world in western Iraq –and in Moscow.

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