What Happened in Vegas

Since I gave a pretty full account this morning of the Faith and Freedom Coalition cattle call in Waukee, IA, I guess I should give equal time to the other big conclave of the weekend with significant implications for the 2012 cycle, the Republican Jewish Coalition event in Las Vegas. It did not (best I can tell from the cryptic reports available; unlike the FFC event, the RJC conference was totally closed to the press) draw remotely as many presidential candidates as the Christian Right cattle call; Ted Cruz and Rick Perry were there, as were minor and potential candidates Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, and Rick Snyder. But the mega-donor presence was heavy, and would have been had no one showed up other than host Sheldon Adelson.

In any event, Jennifer Rubin’s as good a source for what went on in Vegas as anybody else writing about it (she did not attend but was in regular touch with people who were there), and she reports that the folks there are open to Jebbie but not necessarily sold on him; very interested in electability; very interested in foreign policy; not yet quite buying Rand Paul’s more mainstream conservative act; and bored with retreads Huck and Santorum.

That all sounds plausible, but interestingly Rubin tries to sell most of this take as the consensus of “conservatives” in Vegas and in Iowa. I somehow doubt she had a lot of sources at Point of Grace Church in Waukee, and her dismissal of Huckabee as yesterday’s news wouldn’t be shared by many of the 1200 attendees at the FFC event. And while I’m sure Jeb Bush had some silent support in Iowa (particularly from the founder of the group, Ralph Reed), I don’t know that you can say the Christian Right of Iowa is bullish on the former Florida governor.

So in this and future cases, beware of over-generalizations based on projecting one’s own–or one group’s–views onto another.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.