At CPAC, Rallying Against ModeratesBy KATE ZERNIKE
For all the bold talk at the conservative confab here about taking back Congress in November, one Republican who lost when the majority shifted last time worried that his party might not deserve it.
“All Americans need to ask, can Republicans really be trusted with a new majority?” asked Chris Chocola, a two-term former congressman from Indiana who lost in the Democratic tide of 2006.
History, Mr. Chocola said, shows that “the more time conservatives spend in Washington the less they act like conservatives.” He wondered whether a Republican majority could be trusted to push for conservative goals like repealing a health care bill and tackling “responsible entitlement reforms.”
“I hate to admit it, but standing here today, I have to say, I simply don’t know,” Mr. Chocola told the Conservative Political Action Conference, which has gathered here through Saturday. “I’m not convinced that they have learned the lessons of the 2006 and the 2008 elections.”
Mr. Chocola is now the president of the Club for Growth, the antitax, small-government group that is working for conservative candidates – and against moderate ones – in several Republican primaries. He scorned Republican campaign committees for endorsing Republicans he deemed not sufficiently conservative: Dede Scozzafava in New York, Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania and Charlie Crist in Florida.
As he named each, the audience in the giant ballroom at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel booed loudly.
“The question remains, how do the Republicans regain our trust?” he said. “What the Republicans need to do, simply, is return to their conservative roots and fill that void with their best ideas.”