Ann Coulter riles up the CPAC crowd

Ann Coulter gestures while speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, Friday, Feb. 10, 2012. AP

Ann Coulter gestures while speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, Friday, Feb. 10, 2012.
AP

Right-wing author and commentator Ann Coulter was warmly received by a standing-room only audience in a ballroom at the Conservative Political Action Conference Friday, garnering enthusiastic applause for her criticism of President Obama's policy on mandating birth control coverage for employees at religiously-affiliated institutions.

"This isn't a Catholic issue, this is a freedom issue," Coulter told an audience of conservative activists. The Catholic church has been the most critical of the Obama administration's decision.

Coulter said the birth control decision is part of a larger assault on health care freedom, which she said involved "every crazy liberal idea."

Coulter incorporated the "occupy" protests, Bernie Madoff, "Obamacare," pretty girls and the Republican presidential candidates into wide-ranging comedic commentary in which she attacked Mr.Obama discussed the issues faced by conservatives. She also sought to unite a party going through a bitter and longer-than-expected Republican presidential primary.

Coulter said the "only question" conservative voters considering a presidential candidate should be asking is this: "Who will have the most appeal to undecideds?"

For Coulter, the answer is former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Coulter attempted to persuade conservatives to get behind Romney and addressed the elephant in the room: Concerns about Romney's conservative credentials.

Of the four remaining candidates, "Romney is the most conservative," Coulter said. She told the crowd that Romney promised to repeal the the president's health care law and that they don't have to worry that he won't follow through.

Coulter attempted to ease concerns over Romney's other perceived flaw - a manner that some see as robotic and emotionless.

"We've had enough of hip," she said, referring to Mr. Obama without mentioning his name. "Hip has nearly wrecked the country. Let's try square for a while."

Coulter had to convince herself to support Romney. At last year's CPAC conference, she said New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was the only person capable of beating Mr. Obama, calling him the next Ronald Reagan who speaks in "bold truths." Since Christie decided against running, Coulter endorsed Romney in the fall.

Coulter said Friday that the feminist movement "set us back." In response to a question from a conservative female college student who asked about how to respond to those who question how a woman can be a conservative, Coulter said that "all pretty girls are right-wingers."

She said "right-wing girls" are both more beautiful and don't have to date liberal men, who she said treat women like Bill Clinton and former Congressman Anthony Wiener, two politicians who had inappropriate sexual relationships with women outside their marriage.

Coulter also managed to criticize dozens of liberal causes as well as liberal advocates. "Michael Moore is only one person and controls 33 percent of the world's cholesterol," she quipped.

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    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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