On the eve of this year's '08er speeches to CPAC, Kirby Wilbur, a member of the CPAC board of directors, told ABC News that he thinks McCain has "sunk deeper in the hole" with conservative activists since last year, citing his criticism of President Bush on global warming, his "teaming up with Ted Kennedy on immigration," and the "fact that he has snubbed" this year's conference.
Can someone emerge as the CPAC favorite this weekend? Only time will tell.
Conservatives appear not to have much love for Republican '08ers, the Boston Globe's Milligan reports. LINK
After the Romney campaign told ABC News' Teddy Davis that it could not substantiate the former governor's claim to the Christian Broadcasting Network that Giuliani is "pro-gay marriage," a source close to the Giuliani campaign told ABC News: "It is sad but unfortunately not surprising, that Mitt Romney's flailing campaign has chosen to misrepresent Rudy's positions. He can't keep his own positions straight let alone Rudy's." LINK
"Unless the GOP finds a fantasy candidate they're stuck with McCain, Giuliani, and Romney. Which means the conservative vote is up for grabs. McCain's advisers know their candidate has problems with conservatives but argue that of the three, he has the most conservative record. But policy positions may not make the difference. No matter how much pandering he does, McCain can't stop conservatives from flocking to Rudy regardless of his record, either because they're emotionally drawn to the former mayor or because they can't stand the competition. It won't be clear how far McCain can go until it's clear how far Rudy will fall," writes John Dickerson of Slate in a must-read look at McCain's launch strategy and plan to recapture some of that 2000 magic. LINK
Jonathan Martin of Politico adds Steve Scheffler of the influential Iowa Christian Alliance to the list of players who are concerned about the lack of social conservative bona fides among the top-tier GOP contenders. LINK
In an interview with Politico, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) said the only 2008 GOP candidate he wouldn't support is Sen. McCain. LINK
"I don't agree with him on hardly any issues," Santorum said.
ABC News' John Parkinson writes up Cheney's remarks last night that he delivered to CPAC. "I know we've got some Democrats with big ideas for taxes they want to raise," Cheney proclaimed, stoking the friendly crowd. "They ought to realize that no nation has ever taxed its way to prosperity." LINK
On Sunday, Sen. Obama attends a "Unity Breakfast" at Wallace Community College, followed by Sunday services at Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, AL for the annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee to commemorate the March 7, 1965 "Bloody Sunday" Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march.
Also in Selma for the day's events is Sen. Clinton who speaks at the First Baptist Church. Both Sens. Obama and Clinton plan to participate in a reenactment of the march across the Pettus bridge.
Sen. Clinton then joins her husband Bill Clinton for their first joint public appearance since she declared her candidacy. FPOTUS will be inducted into the National Voting Rights Museum's Hall of Fame.
"Everybody's interpreting this as the Clintons saying together, we are not going to give up on the African American vote," said ABC News' Claire Shipman on "Good Morning America."