NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Conservatives are gathering today to hear from their leading lights at the Conservative Political Action Conference, and they have wasted no time zinging the opposition.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the opening speaker, did his best Jay Leno imitation to criticize the Affordable Care Act, repeating a Leno joke that his network had told him if he liked his job, he could keep it. (NBC pushed Leno out this year in favor of Jimmy Fallon.)
Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP 2012 vice presidential nominee, also jabbed the ACA when he said Republicans will win in the November midterm elections because Democrats “spend five years in power and all they have to show for it is this lousy website.”
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, recounting his story of overcoming adversity, said he was sure he would be the only senator ever to have flunked civics — until he got to the Senate and met his colleagues. And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said President Obama is “treating our constitution worse than a placemat at Denny’s.”
GIF: MITCH MCCONNELL BRANDISHES A RIFLE
The three-day CPAC event draws top Republicans, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, all considered likely 2016 presidential candidates, as well as Tea Party favorites Sarah Palin and Jenny Beth Martin. The event also features panel discussions on topics including “The American Dream vs. The Obama Nightmare: Income Inequality” and “What’s the Deal with Global Warming?”
Not to be outdone, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee put out its own CPAC schedule this morning. The parody hits on recent Republican controversies and lists fake panel sessions like one led by Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., called “Hot Mic Awareness in a Blind Rage.” Grimm threatened to throw a reporter off a balcony at the State of the Union, irked by a question about an ongoing ethics investigation. The episode was, of course, captured on camera.
MARTHA T. MOORE, USAToday/Gannett