Former Vice President Dick Cheney rallied conservative activists today during a brief yet surprise appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
"A welcome like that is almost enough to make me want to run for office," Cheney said, laughing. "But I'm not going to do it."
"One Democrat said, 'There was no way in hell a Republican was going to get elected to the seat once held by Ted Kennedy.' Well, here I am," said Brown, who received a hero's welcome. "We collectively absolutely have changed the course of politics in America."
"President Obama's self-proclaimed B+ will go down in history as the biggest exaggeration since Al Gore's invention of the Internet," Romney said, referring to the president's assessment of his first year in office. "This president will not deserve the credit he will undoubtedly claim. He has prolonged the recession, expanded the pain of unemployment, and added to the burden of debt we will leave future generations.
Assailing the president's health care overhaul push, Romney said, "Obamacare is bad care for America." But he did not mention his own record enacting universal health care legislation in Massachusetts. That legislation was in some ways a model for Democrats' nationwide plans.
"President Obama, [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi, [Majority Leader] Harry Reid and their team have failed the American people, and that is why their majority will be out the door," added Romney, whose conference appearance will be followed by a two-month-long book tour where he will attempt to build his case against Obama.
The former governor had high praises for former president George W. Bush, who has been relatively quiet since stepping out of office, unlike Cheney, who has emerged as a leading critic of the Obama administration. Romney today argued that history will judge Bush kinder than he is portrayed now.
"When it comes to pinning blame, pin the tail on the donkeys [Democrats]," Romney said.
CPAC, which is held annually, has always drawn conservative bigwigs and is the biggest gathering of its kind, but this year, it boasts record numbers, with 10,000 expected to attend the three-day event.
The mood this year is especially buoyed by recent Democratic resignations, Brown's surprise victory in Massachusetts and tea party populism.
The draw for many is how to capitalize on the growing discontent against the administration and Congress. At the same time, the conservative movement is trying to find its own voice, as represented by the wide array of speakers -- those who are calling for a return to grassroots momentum to seasoned politicians and Congressional hopefuls looking to tap into voter discontent.