From The New York Times:
NEW ORLEANS — Should Republicans be the party of no? Or the party of yes?
There was a hint of disagreement on that count as a parade of Republicans took the stage here on Friday at one of the largest party gatherings — Sarah Palin rallies not included — since the Republican National Convention two years ago.
“There is no shame in being the party of no,” Ms. Palin said, making a rare matinee act alongside other Republicans, rather than a starring marquee role. “When they’re proposing an idea that violates our values, violates our conscience, violates our Constitution, what’s wrong with being the party of no? We’re the party of hell no!”
The Republican addresses rang with unanimity when it came to Democrats’ expanding the size and scope of government. The discussions about foreign policy offered a stinging critique of President Obama, but showed few differences from speech to speech.
Yet the question of being a party of no versus yes was not entirely harmonious.
“We should decide we’re going to be the party of yes,” said Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, ticking through a series of initiatives to embrace affirmatively: lowering taxes, creating jobs, decreasing spending and balancing the budget.
And so it went here at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, an assembly that has been taking place every four years for nearly four decades as a way to showcase the party’s emerging talents.
But two of the leading possible candidates took a pass, as Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts decided to appear together in Mr. Pawlenty’s home state on Friday evening rather than appear in New Orleans with a full contingent of potential rivals and others who frequently make the Republican speaking circuit.
There was Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, who urged party activists to rally against Obama policies, particularly the new health care law.
“We still have time to stop this dangerous power play, which I think was among the most arrogant power plays in American history,” Ms. Cheney said as she opened the three-day event on Thursday evening.
There was Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, who began his speech to a hometown crowd with a blunt answer to an often-asked question.
“I am not running for president of the United States of America,” Mr. Jindal said, drawing applause from his declaration.
There was Gov. Rick Perry of Texas who denounced the notion that “Big Daddy government has all the answers.”
Ms. Palin offered a gift to those in the audience: Two sticks of teriyaki caribou meat jerky were left on the chairs for every delegate with a note, “An Alaskan Snack from SarahPAC.”
But it was Mr. Gingrich who made the most dramatic entrance. He strode into the darkened ballroom to the Survivor tune “Eye of the Tiger.” For several minutes, he shook hands and waved to admirers as nearly every verse from the “Rocky III” ballad played over the loudspeakers.
Eye of the Tiger? They should have played Pop Goes the Weasel.