New York Times reporters Michael Shear (pictured) and Erik Eckholm filed an 1,189-word dispatch Friday from the Conservative Political Action Conference, the conservapalooza held annually in Washington, D.C. Perhaps caught up in the excitement, the reporters committed some amusing label overload: “Romney Takes Conservative Leaders’ Questions in Bid to ‘Reconnect’” contains 22 examples of the word “conservative,” the headline making 23.
Fifteen of those 22 incidents are descriptions of groups and individuals by the reporters themselves. By way of comparison, the common conjunction “and” appears 24 times. Here’s a representative slice:
For more than an hour Thursday afternoon, Mitt Romney huddled with a small gathering of leaders in the conservative movement, potential emissaries to those who have so far proved most wary of embracing him as the Republican Party’s nominee.
About three dozen evangelical organizers, conservative writers and Tea Party activists were in the room at the Marriott Wardman Park, and the largely friendly group politely grilled him over nuts and soda about his positions on social issues and pressed him on his surprising losses during Tuesday’s presidential contests.
Not in attendance: many of those in the conservative movement who have questioned Mr. Romney’s commitment to their causes -- their absence underscoring the challenge he faces in winning them over. Several said Thursday that they had been invited, but declined. Others said Mr. Romney’s campaign had not reached out to them this week.
In a speech to the broader group Friday afternoon, Mr. Romney will seek to reassure social conservatives, deficit and national security hawks, and evangelical voters that they are a crucial part of the coalition he is building.
“As he tries to bring this party together, it’s critical that he reaches out to them, that he is there to address those issues that they might have some questions about,” said Bay Buchanan, a longtime conservative activist who is helping Mr. Romney court the party’s right wing and who attended the private meeting. “You have to do something to bring them aboard.”
The effort to assuage conservatives could not come at a more critical time for Mr. Romney, who watched on Tuesday as hard-core Republican activists in three states shouted their preference for what they considered Rick Santorum’s authentic brand of conservatism.