Thursday, January 14, 2010

Glenn Beck and CPAC: Outsider steps in

Glenn Beck’s keynote address at next month’s Conservative Political Action Conference could boost Republican efforts to harness the energy behind the tea party movement, even as it seems to undermine Beck’s carefully honed image as an outsider equally unhappy with both parties. Beck’s commitment to speak to the legacy conservative conference known as CPAC comes as the Fox News talker is dabbling more actively in politics, but nonetheless marks a new level of personal political engagement. And it came only after Sarah Palin, a fellow tea party hero, spurned an invitation to deliver the CPAC keynote Feb. 20. Beck’s ratings, influence and income have all soared in the past year as he’s emerged as a leading figure – along with Palin, the former Alaska governor, and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) – in the tea party movement. It exploded onto the scene last year as hundreds of thousands of newly engaged conservative activists flocked to town halls and marches around the country to protest big-spending Democratic initiatives that are often the target of Beck’s fiery anti-Washington attacks. Though Beck has rejected suggestions that he’s leading the movement, he unveiled an organizing effort called the 9-12 Project last year that now has dozens and perhaps hundreds of local chapters around the more

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