Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.
The Ukraine crisis – at what point does the U.S. have an obligation to intervene?
(CNN) – Republicans came out swinging today at the Conservative Political Action Conference, better known as CPAC.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell came out armed, walking onto CPAC's stage bearing a rifle. The gun was a life-time achievement award gift from the National Rifle Association that he handed off to his retiring colleague, Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, who is leaving his term early for health reasons.
But the more common weapon in the room was words.
"We have long thought and said this president is a smart man. It may be time to revisit that assumption," Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said.
Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan called it a "family reunion" but there were really two competing visions on display at CPAC.
(CNN) – Lawmakers in Crimea voted Thursday in favor of leaving the country for Russia and putting it to a regional vote in 10 days.
It's an act that drew widespread condemnation, with Ukrainian interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk calling the effort to hold such a referendum "an illegitimate decision."
(CNN) - Texas Gov. Rick Perry has made no secret he is contemplating the possibility of running for President in 2016. But though the Republican Party often nominates candidates who have run before that strategy is rarely successful.
In an interview with CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper," Perry said he learned a lot from his 2012 campaign experience when he exited the primaries early on.
"I won't have major back surgery six weeks before the announcement," says Perry, of the next possible run for the White House.
When he announced his presidential bid in August 2011, Perry said he felt invincible, telling himself: "I'm 61 years old, I'm bulletproof, I'm 10-feet tall, I can do anything."
But 2012 was "a very humbling experience."
Watch CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper" at 4 p.m. ET for more of our interview with Texas Governor Rick Perry
(CNN) – Governor Rick Perry reacted to fellow Texan Sen. Ted Cruz' fiery remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where Cruz again slammed establishment Republicans.
"And of course all of us remember President Dole. And President McCain. And President Romney. Now, look, those are good men. They're decent men. But when you don't stand and draw a clear a distinction, when you don't stand for principle, Democrats celebrate," Cruz said Thursday.
(CNN) – Republican Sen. Dan Coats has said Russian President Vladimir Putin has imperial ambitions that could threaten the international community. Russia is under fire for its military invasion into neighboring Ukraine.
"This first step is something we ought to put in the context of history. When the Soviet Union came unglued, it was thought that they are not going to be a major world player. Putin has put himself in the place of saying, 'No, I want to restore Russia to its former position,'" said Coats.
Putin insisted Wednesday his military isn't planning to seize Ukraine's Crimean peninsula – but didn't close the door on action "to protect local people." Crimea is mostly populated by ethnic Russians. Should Russian troops intervene, Putin said, "It will be legitimate and correspond to international law because we have a direct request from a legitimate president and it corresponds to our interests in protecting people who are close to us."
"Does this not remind us of what happened with Hitler in the early '20s and '30s?" said Coats.