Today has officially been set aside as the segment of the three-day CPAC conference when the remaining presidential candidates get to strut their stuff, in anticipation of tomorrow’s straw poll. As noted yesterday, Ron Paul is a no-show, so the day will belong to Ricky Santorum at 10:25, Mitt Romney at 12:55, and then Newt Gingrich at 4:10.
Obviously Santorum and Gingrich know exactly how to work this sort of crowd: it’s like cooking on a grill, with the keys being intense heat, savory smoke, and lots of fatty red meat. They’ll probably get so worked up claiming to represent Christians in the “war on religion” that the appearance on the stage of a life-size cross is not out of the question. But the bigger questions are about Mitt. Does he robotically deliver his stock speech (dressed up with a few Reagan or Thatcher or William F. Buckley quotes), overtly pander, or even attempt a Sister Souljah? This last approach can confidently be ruled out; it’s been a long, long time since a GOP presidential candidate has dared taunt “movement conservatives” about their extremism, like Nelson Rockefeller did in the clip below.