At the National Review Institute "conservative summit" the reviews are coming in after a day's hindstate, and the votes seem to come down on former Gov. Jeb YouKnowWho.
The biggest loser? Perhaps former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who followed the man called simply, Jeb.
Romney suffered also from the fact that before his speech, a Weekly Standard article was being circulated in the lobby of the hotel and in conversation that laid out evidence that as late as 2002 Romney was stridently pro-choice. It was embarrassing for Romney surrogates that instead of touting their candidate's bona fides had to once again hand hold nervous conservatives and explain theri candidates' position. Romney addressed his position during his remarks.
Jeb was clearly the star of the conference. It appeared he'd lost about ten to 15 pounds since leaving office, spoke without notes, and focused on what conservatives needed to hear: the need to move past the '06 elections, the need for the Republican Party to be the party of reform always, and the rough outlines of a domestic agenda. And in so doing, while not directly criticizing his brother, he starkly differentiated himself.
According to Jeb insiders who know his thinking, the former governor arrived in Washington with no agenda for his appearances. He isn't interested in running for the presidency at this time, but is willing to sit back and see what develops over the next six months. There is more than the top of the ticket available to him, and he makes his home in a state that is now a must-win if Republicans hope to have any chance of holding the White House in 2008. So for now, he can keep doing what he's doing: speaking frankly and honestly and leading the party as an outsider with nothing to lose and alot to gain.
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