The Conservative Political Action Conference, which began Thursday, continues to be a pivotal location for what now appears to be the end of the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Early Friday morning -- 7 a.m. EST, to be exact -- President Bush spoke there, for the first time since 2000. And when he took the stage, according to the Associated Press, it was to clapping and the chant "Four more years!"
Much of the speech was the usual fare from Bush, especially when speaking to a friendly audience: Iraq and Afghanistan are going swimmingly, "history's verdict takes time to reveal itself," we need to appoint more judges like Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito, and so on. But there were a couple of interesting moments, at least.
The first few minutes of Bush's speech were mostly a collection of various jokes. "I appreciate the fact you invited Vice President Cheney here," one joke began, referring to Dick Cheney's speech at CPAC on Thursday. "He is the best vice president in history. Mother may have a different opinion. But don't tell her I said this, but my opinion is the one that counts." Bush's father, of course, was vice president from 1981 to 1989.
And then there was the end of the speech. Bush reassured attendees that they would have a conservative candidate for president, saying, "Soon we'll have a nominee who will carry a conservative banner into this election and beyond. Listen, the stakes in November are high. This is an important election. Prosperity and peace are in the balance. So with confidence in our vision and faith in our values, let us go forward, fight for victory and keep the White House in 2008."
Bush, however, never mentioned the name of now-presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, who was Bush's opponent in 2000 and who remains highly controversial among conservatives.