Trump nearly invisible as CPAC gets underway

The Conservative Political Action Conference got underway yesterday, with speakers extolling the virtues of conservatism.

But the name "Donald Trump" was rarely mentioned.  Even Senator Ben Sasse, whose high-profile denunciation of Trump and his vow not to support him if he is the nominee, only alluded to Trump with some elliptical comments:

The apparent reluctance to forcefully talk about Trump in front of a conservative crowd seemed to typify the Republican Party’s scattershot reaction to the GOP front-runner, who increasingly looks like he may be the general-election candidate. Many party elites have made no secret of their distaste for Trump, a candidate who has trampled on just about every sacred cow of conservatism. Even so, the establishment has not been able to decide how to respond to the Trump surge. Should influential conservatives go after Trump with everything they’ve got? Should they embrace him in a bid for party unity, or as a way to make sure they’re on his good side in case he wins the Oval Office? Is it better to simply sit on the sidelines? No one seems able to agree, leaving the party in a state of paralysis.

Earlier in the week, there was an abortive effort to get Trump "disinvited" from speaking at the conference.  But ACU president Matt Schlapp shot that idea down.  So Trump will speak to attendees on Saturday.

One conservative is trying to get 1,000 people to walk out on Trump when he begins his remarks:

“We’re gonna do a walk-out on Mr. Trumpster,” William Temple—a fixture at the conservative convention held just outside Washington, D.C., who Newsweek oncedescribed as the face of the Tea Party—said Thursday, eagerly telling anyone who would listen about his plans to defy the Donald.

Wearing a yellow “DON’T TREAD ON ME” flag draped around his shoulders, Temple stood out from the crowd of mostly buttoned-up Republicans walking the halls of the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. This isn’t the first time he has organized a walkout at CPAC. Temple did the same thing last year, only then his target was Jeb Bush. What do Bush and Trump have in common? “Neither one’s conservative,” he immediately replied. “When he comes in, we’re going to let him know that we don’t want to associate with a man that makes fun of Carly Fiorina’s face, or denigrates women, or is rude and crude.”

This effort epitomizes the attempts made by various Republican factions to stop Trump before he wins the nomination.  Haphazard, scattershot efforts won't get the job done.  And it won't happen in this case, either. 

It's debatable whether Trump supporters are persuadable at this point, as these empty gestures are more for the benefit of the conscience of Trump opponents rather than a serious attempt to stop him.

But if the past is any guide, CPAC attendees will sit in mostly respectful silence and listen to what Trump has to say.

The Conservative Political Action Conference got underway yesterday, with speakers extolling the virtues of conservatism.

But the name "Donald Trump" was rarely mentioned.  Even Senator Ben Sasse, whose high-profile denunciation of Trump and his vow not to support him if he is the nominee, only alluded to Trump with some elliptical comments:

The apparent reluctance to forcefully talk about Trump in front of a conservative crowd seemed to typify the Republican Party’s scattershot reaction to the GOP front-runner, who increasingly looks like he may be the general-election candidate. Many party elites have made no secret of their distaste for Trump, a candidate who has trampled on just about every sacred cow of conservatism. Even so, the establishment has not been able to decide how to respond to the Trump surge. Should influential conservatives go after Trump with everything they’ve got? Should they embrace him in a bid for party unity, or as a way to make sure they’re on his good side in case he wins the Oval Office? Is it better to simply sit on the sidelines? No one seems able to agree, leaving the party in a state of paralysis.

Earlier in the week, there was an abortive effort to get Trump "disinvited" from speaking at the conference.  But ACU president Matt Schlapp shot that idea down.  So Trump will speak to attendees on Saturday.

One conservative is trying to get 1,000 people to walk out on Trump when he begins his remarks:

“We’re gonna do a walk-out on Mr. Trumpster,” William Temple—a fixture at the conservative convention held just outside Washington, D.C., who Newsweek oncedescribed as the face of the Tea Party—said Thursday, eagerly telling anyone who would listen about his plans to defy the Donald.

Wearing a yellow “DON’T TREAD ON ME” flag draped around his shoulders, Temple stood out from the crowd of mostly buttoned-up Republicans walking the halls of the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. This isn’t the first time he has organized a walkout at CPAC. Temple did the same thing last year, only then his target was Jeb Bush. What do Bush and Trump have in common? “Neither one’s conservative,” he immediately replied. “When he comes in, we’re going to let him know that we don’t want to associate with a man that makes fun of Carly Fiorina’s face, or denigrates women, or is rude and crude.”

This effort epitomizes the attempts made by various Republican factions to stop Trump before he wins the nomination.  Haphazard, scattershot efforts won't get the job done.  And it won't happen in this case, either. 

It's debatable whether Trump supporters are persuadable at this point, as these empty gestures are more for the benefit of the conscience of Trump opponents rather than a serious attempt to stop him.

But if the past is any guide, CPAC attendees will sit in mostly respectful silence and listen to what Trump has to say.