If it's in the News, it's in our Polls. Public opinion polling since 2003.


McCain at CPAC

An Inside Report by Robert D. Novak

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Sen. John McCain's managers, fearing an unfavorable reaction at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Thursday, wanted to precede his speech with a video of Ronald Reagan praising McCain. Talk show host Michael Reagan, the late president's son, offered his own video criticizing McCain. David Keene, chairman of the sponsoring American Conservative Union, turned down both.

Keene also rejected a plea from the McCain camp for 10 conservative supporters to be seated on the dais. Instead, McCain settled for an opening speech by former Sen. George Allen of Virginia and an introduction by Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma -- both conservatives.

Allen asked for five minutes, was given two minutes and actually talked for over 10 minutes. After McCain left the rostrum, he apologized to Keene for presentations by Allen, Coburn and McCain exceeding the allotted time.


The negotiated settlement Thursday of the Senate standoff over the economic stimulus package acknowledged failure of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's intensive lobbying of retiring Republican Sen. John Warner of Virginia. Warner would have been the necessary 60th vote to close debate and permit Senate action on the Republican-opposed bill approved by the Senate Finance Committee.

Warner, an 80-year-old fifth-termer, occasionally crosses the aisle to vote with Democrats. Reid stressed the Democratic bill's benefits for veterans to Warner, a veteran of both World War II and the Korean War, a former secretary of navy and a former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Even if Warner had agreed, however, Reid could not immediately collect 60 senators because the two Democratic presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, were on the campaign trail and absent from Washington.


Republican political operatives close to President George W. Bush are floating the name of one of his former Cabinet members, ex-Rep. Rob Portman of Ohio, as John McCain's vice presidential running mate.

Portman at age 52 would be two decades younger than McCain, built a lifetime American Conservative Union voting record in Congress of 89 percent, and has both high-level executive and legislative experience. His biggest asset is coming from Ohio, which was a presidential swing state in 2004 and may be one again in 2008.

After starting in Washington as an aide to the senior President Bush, Portman served 12 years in Congress representing a Cincinnati district and rising to the chairmanship of the House Republican leadership. He left the House in 2005 to become U.S. Trade Representative and later director of the Office of Management and Budget.


Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty raised doubts about his likelihood to become Sen. John McCain's Republican vice presidential candidate on Jan. 30, when he joined with Pennsylvania's Democratic Gov. Edward G. Rendell in support of the Senate Democratic leadership's economic stimulus package, which is opposed by President Bush.

Behind the scenes, Pawlenty has been opposed on the stimulus package by conservative Republican Govs. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Mitch Daniels of Indiana, Mark Sanford of South Carolina and Rick Perry of Texas.

Pawlenty and Sanford have been the two sitting governors most prominently mentioned as McCain's running mate. Pawlenty's activity in Washington lobbying for what conservatives call more handouts undermines him for vice president.


Conservative Republicans are trying to force a congressional vote on Berkeley City Council efforts to close the U.S. Marine Corps recruiting office in that city and provide special access for the CodePink radical antiwar group.

Rep. John Campbell of California promised to introduce the "Semper Fi Act" to rescind all federal spending for the city of Berkeley and transfer those funds to Marine Corps recruiting. Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina announced he is planning similar legislation.

The very liberal Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee, who represents Berkeley, did not endorse the City Council's anti-Marine resolution but vowed to fight any effort cutting off funds for the city.


See Other Political Commentaries

See Other Commentaries by Robert D. Novak

Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information.

We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.

Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll and commentaries are available for free to the general public. Subscriptions are available for $4.95 a month or 34.95 a year that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections, consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers, Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs and a full history of our data.

To learn more about our methodology, click here.