An Iowan’s impression of CPAC

The annual CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) is underway this weekend, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, broadcaster Rush Limbaugh and presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney as featured speakers.  According to news accounts, the 9000 Republicans from around the country who've gathered in DC for "CPAC" amount to the most ever to turn out for a CPAC convention.  Sandra "Sandy" Greiner, a Washington, Iowa, farmer who has served in both the Iowa House and the Iowa Senate, is a first-time conference-goer.

"This is really grassroots people," Greiner said Saturday during a telephone interview with Radio Iowa.  "These are people that are actively engaged at the grassroots and all the table conversations at meals are, 'How do we move our party agenda forward' and 'How do we get our voices heard?'  People would like their voices to be heard."  

Past CPAC conventions have been seen as a rite of passage for future Republican presidential candidates, but neither Alaska Governor Sarah Palin nor Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal are there this weekend.  CNN has the list of candidates who are on a CPAC 2012 Straw Poll; results to be announced later today.

"The real buzz is not so much focusing on a national candidate at this point," Greiner said.  "The buzz is really more of an energizing thing for the conservative movement.  I can't honestly say that there's a candidate that's floating to the top."

Gingrich is reported to have roused the crowd, and Greiner offered this observation: "Newt's presentation did have people nodding, sitting forward in their chairs.  He was able to connect with people."

Greiner considers her fellow CPACers to be "like-minded people" who are "without a doubt, energized" about the future of the conservative movement.  "I think positive things will come from it," Greiner said of the convention, "But I'm not willing to say we're ready to stand up and make a change overnight. I think a lot of positive change will come from people getting together, exchanging names, business cards and ideas."

As for Greiner's political future, she did not seek reelection this past November and is coy about what may be next. "Right now I'm just kind of working at advancing good causes and trying to see what we can do to make not only Iowa, but the nation a better place to be because there's a lot of people with a lot of concerns right now."

Last summer at the Republican Party of Iowa's state convention Greiner was one of three candidates to be Iowa's committeewoman on the Republican National Committee, but she lost the race to Kim Lehman. 

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.