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TPM tracked down Congressman Steve King at CPAC today, and asked him whether he thinks jihadists are coming over the southern border of the U.S., like Rep. Sue Myrick and Rick Santorum have claimed.

"I know there is. I know from reports that we occasionally pick up 'people of interest from nations of interest,'" King said, explaining that "people of interest from nations of interest" is a government euphemism for jihadists.

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Wandering around the vast and labyrinthine CPAC yesterday, I stumbled into Michael Williams, a Texas Railroad Commissioner (an important elected gig in the Lone Star State) and a Republican candidate for the Senate seat Kay Bailey Hutchison is retiring from.

Last year, I interviewed Williams -- who at the time was among the lucky conservatives to have Sen. Jim DeMint's (R-SC) endorsement in the Senate race that was supposed to happen when Hutchison quit after her run for governor (she didn't, so Williams had to wait.) During our chat, he told me how conservatives need to do a better job reaching out to the African American community, where he acknowledged right wingers have little entre or experience.

When I ran into him yesterday, it appeared conservatives have not made much progress on that front. Ahead of me was a CPAC attendee rushing past, as they are wont to do in this giant place.

"Hey, are you Herman Cain?" the young man asked Williams, referring to another African American conservative running for federal office and attending CPAC.

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Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MI) said at CPAC today that Republicans have to keep in mind that the "average American agrees with us on the issues," and "the main thing" Republicans have to accomplish it "electing a Republican President next year."

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Former Justice Department lawyer J. Christian Adams just got done addressing a fairly miniscule crowd in the CPAC overflow room. Adams, of course, is the conservative "whistleblower" best known for his role in the New Black Panther Party case/Fox News cause célèbre.

The case has led at least one Bush era DOJ official to suggest that the Obama Administration is actually biased against white people, while many conservatives say at the very least the Obama Justice Department is an example of racial tolerance run amok.

Much has been written about this -- much of it by TPM's Ryan J. Reilly over at Muckraker. But today, Adams was able to sum up the feeling with one short, simple story about eating outside.

Obama's Justice Department, Adams said, is afraid of the word "picnic."

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We still have two more possible 2012 contenders to go here at CPAC, but the real news on the dais today won't come from the pen of a speechwriter. After two days of non-stop conservative/Libertarian/Republican/Tea Party action (thus is the makeup of the crowd at CPAC), we'll finally get to hear who won the straw poll.

What that means exactly is anyone's guess. Once an anticipated barometer of a candidate's cred with the conservative wing of the GOP (see: Romney, Mitt circa 2008), most people here think today's straw poll will be a measure of how many people Team Paul brought along.

As Dave Weigel reported, fans of Ron and Rand Paul spent $100,000 bringing throngs of supporters to CPAC. As we saw on Thursday, they've had an impact on the tone of the place.

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Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, the last of the possible Republican presidential candidates to address CPAC on Friday, strode to the podium at tonight's Ronald Reagan Banquet and turned back the clock to the 1980s: the thing we have to fear, he said, is the growing Red Threat.

"In our nation, in our time, the friends of freedom have an assignment, as great as those of the 1860s, or the 1940s, or the long twilight of the Cold War," he said. "As in those days, the American project is menaced by a survival-level threat."

"I refer, of course, to the debts our nation has amassed for itself over decades of indulgence," he added. "It is the new Red Menace, this time consisting of ink."

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As advertised, House Republicans late Friday unveiled a legislative proposal to cut discretionary spending by billions of dollars starting next month, through the end of the fiscal year in September.

You can download a summary of the proposed cuts here (PDF). These numbers could grow more severe during a spending debate on the House floor next week. Even if they don't, House Republicans face stiff opposition from the Democratically controlled Senate, which will demand the proposal be scaled back.

Reaching an agreement that satisfies both chambers and the White House could easily drag past March 4, when current funding for the federal government expires. If it does, Congress would either have to pass a short-term extension of current funding, or touch off a government shutdown.

Former Bush administration official Scott Bloch, who originally pleaded guilty to contempt of Congress under a plea agree with the Justice Department, wants to reverse course after a judge ruled he had to spend at least a month in prison.

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