Washington (CNN) - Freshman GOP Rep. Allen West of Florida outlined three "pillars of conservatism" that will lead to the "new dawn of a new America" in a rousing speech given to close the Conservative Political Action Conference Saturday.
Pausing several times to accommodate applause, West addressed his detractors and laid out a path for the conservative way forward.
CPAC is the largest annual gathering of conservative-minded activists, which this year is extra-important because it's the first cattle-call of potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates.
While describing his personal journey, West took a swipe at charges of conservative racism heard on the campaign trail and remarked "Perhaps they should see who is standing up as your keynote speaker."
He recalled enduring "the politics of ugliness... capitalist name calling... being called the worst person in the world," and responded with the results from the recent midterm election: "you got fired for it."
And of an analysis that rated him "one of the most vulnerable representatives" for his next election, West countered, "I've got to tell you, standing in front of you I don't feel so vulnerable, do I."
The Tea Party favorite affirmed that he took an oath "to be a guardian for the conservative principles that make America the greatest nation that the world has ever known," and denounced "liberal progressivism" that "has repeatedly failed all over the world."
He discussed "pillars of conservatism" as an antidote, including "effective and efficient principles of government," "peace through vigilance, resolve, and strength," and a commitment to "never abandon values."
West sounded off on "failed gimmick policies like cash for clunkers," saying "We cannot continue on with excessive taxation and the overburdens of regulation and that's why we're going to be cutting from the EPA."
And on foreign affairs and the resolve for peace, West issued a challenge. "Peace begins with courageous leaders who are willing to identify and defy our enemies and their objectives," he said, "Because political correctness has no place in our national security agenda."
Touching on the developments in Egypt he cautioned, "Yesterday we witnessed a historic moment. However, let us be reminded of the lessons of revolution in Iran. History has a way of teaching you a very bad lesson if you don't pay attention."
But the most important pillar for West, who shared stories from his childhood and a family history in the military, was the commitment to values.
"We do not separate faith from the individual. We must never forget that the American motto is in God we trust. We welcome the beliefs of others in America, but when tolerance becomes a one-way street it leads to cultural suicide," he said.
"We stand on the precedence of greatness for this nation, but if we forget what brought us to where we are, if we forget these pillars there will be no America to pass on to our generations."