TPM News

It's day two of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Follow TPM for live updates and reports. Here are ten things you need to know.

  • Romney, Gingrich and Santorum speak at CPAC today: Three of the Republican presidential candidates will speak at CPAC today. Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum will take the podium at 10:30AM, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will be up at 12:55PM, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is slotted for 4:10PM. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), a libertarian that often bucks traditional conservative orthodoxy, will not be speaking at the event.
  • Obama hits 49 percent in Gallup tracking: President Obama's approval rating has been ticking up, having been positive in Rasmussen's tracking poll for four days in a row. Now he may be verging into that territory in the Gallup nightly numbers as well -- he hit 49 percent yesterday. The last time Obama was at 50 percent in Gallup's tracking poll was early June, but he's also snapped back quickly after short bursts in their numbers over the last few months, so we'll know which at 1 p.m. eastern when the polling organization releases its numbers.
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TPM caught up with Maggie Gallagher at CPAC on Friday, where the National Organization for Marriage official said even she was shocked at Rick Santorum's recent electorial victories.

"I came out after I saw his speech in Iowa, personally, for Rick Santorum and what I saw there was a guy that none of us thought had a chance had fought his way into contention," Gallagher told TPM. "He's been the hero for those who care about life and marriage and a whole lot of other issues, not only when the cameras are on and when it's easy, but when it's hard. So it's amazing to watch this man, who's a genuinely good man and a hero for conservatives, step into his 'A' game."

"That's what happens when you have a man who's not being crafted by what he thinks the voters want to hear but is trying to tell them important truths that he cares about and believes they share,' Gallagher said.

Gallagher said that if Santorum can get close to Romney in Michigan that that "campaign narrative will change."

Romney, Gallagher said, may be more liberal on gay rights but she believes he's always opposed gay marriage.

"I believe, and I know there are people who disagree, but I was around when he fought pretty hard against gay marriage in Massachusetts, he did lose, but I don't think it does our movement any good if when people rise up and do the right thing in a political battle, we then years later claim their position was different than what it really was," Gallagher said.

NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan released a statement approving of the Obama administration's compromise on the issue of contraception coverage for employees of religious institutions, saying it maintains women's access to care. However, the statement worries the compromise will not appease critics:

“Today’s announcement makes it clear that President Obama is firmly committed to protecting women’s health,” Keenan said.


“Unfortunately, some opponents of contraception may not be satisfied. These groups and their allies in Congress want to take away contraceptive coverage from nurses, janitors, administrative staff, and college instructors—and that agenda is out of touch with our country’s values and priorities. We will continue to fight on every front to support women’s access to birth control as politicians in Washington, D.C. try to take it away.”


Planned Parenthood has sent out its reaction to the Obama administration's compromise on contraception coverage by religious organizations. They believe the compromise does not cut access, but they promise to be vigilant in watching its implementation. From the statement:

“In the face of a misleading and outrageous assault on women’s health, the Obama administration has reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring all women will have access to birth control coverage, with no costly co-pays, no additional hurdles, and no matter where they work.


“We believe the compliance mechanism does not compromise a woman’s ability to access these critical birth control benefits.


“However we will be vigilant in holding the administration and the institutions accountable for a rigorous, fair and consistent implementation of the policy, which does not compromise the essential principles of access to care.

Rick Santorum painted quite the dystopian image of the Affordable Care Act in his Friday speech, suggesting that health care reform meant the government will "own" people. 

"I've been traveling around this country talking about how Obamacare will crush economic freedom will make people dependent on govenment for the most important thing: their very lives," he said. "And as a result government will own you, because you'll have to pay tribute to Washington to get the care you need for your children."

The quote has some resemblance to the old "death panels" myth, which suggested government bureaucrats would determine health decisions for individual patients, in effect who lives and dies. In fact, under the ACA Americans who aren't covered by an expansion of an already existing program, Medicaid, would buy insurance strictly from private providers who would be required to provide more generous benefits than they typically do today. 

On a conference call with reporters Friday, a senior administration official announced that the White House will move the onus to provide women free contraceptive services to insurance companies if their religiously-affiliated employers object to providing insurance coverage that covers birth control. 


"All women will still have access to free preventive care that includes contraceptive services," the official said. "The insurance company will be required to reach out directly and offer her contraceptive coverage free of charge," if the employer objects to providing that coverage in its benefit package.



Rick Santorum, long an opponent of government-run health care, told a CPAC crowd Friday that the health care reform law is "not about contraception, it's about economic liberty, it's about freedom of speech, it's about freedom of religion, it's about government control of your lives and it's got to stop."

Rick Santorum at CPAC says all Americans must be given the opportunity to rise, including the "very poor, the people who have been suffering and left behind."

Mitt Romney recently told CNN that he isn't concerned about the "very poor" becuase there's a safety net to help them. It was an off-hand remark that was partially taken out of context, but it became a talking point to paint Romney as out of touch with most Americans.