Washington (CNN) - Conservatives gathered Thursday for the first day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that promised speeches from and discussions with leading Republican lawmakers, analysts and pundits. The three day meeting in Washington will culminate with a much-watched straw poll Saturday. Check back here for updates from our reports and producers throughout the day and watch the remarks live here. Read more here.
9:28 p.m. ET - Ryan also weighed in on the current flap over required health insurance coverage for contraception. The Wisconsin representative said it was an example of the "government inventing a new right that trumps the constitutional right to freedom of faith."
9:22 p.m. ET - Ryan called for a president in the style of the late President Ronald Reagan.
"Boldness and clarity create the best opportunity for a winning coalition," he said.
9:17 p.m. ET - Ryan said trust in the government was at an all-time low because the size of government was at an all time high.
He added that the election could not just be a referendum on Obama, but rather a choice between two visions from America.
9:14 p.m. ET - Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, speaking at an evening dinner event, said "We only have nine months to beat Barack Obama."
5:50 p.m. ET - Romney meets privately with conservative leaders at CPAC
5:44 p.m. ET - @KilloughCNN reports: Chelsea Haley, a junior at the University of Georgia, described Paul's fiery attacks against Obama as reasonable.
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"It's all fair. He knows what he's talking about," Haley said, while standing with friends in the hotel lobby after the speech.
While Haley hasn't decided who she'll vote for in the primary, she said she was an early supporter of former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty before he dropped out of the race in August.
"I just felt like I could connect with him," she said.
5:20 p.m. ET - Sen. Paul said the Republican party is in the process of discovering who its next leader will be ... but no mention of his father, Republican presidential candidates Rep. Ron Paul.
5:13 p.m. ET - Second Paul question for the president: "Do you hate poor people or do you just hate poor people with jobs?"
5:10 p.m. ET - Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky opened his CPAC speech with a question for the president: "Do you hate all rich people or just those who aren't campaign contributors?"
5:05 p.m. ET - @CRrileyCNN: What's the over-under on how many times Herman Cain namedrops his website in this speech?
5:02 p.m. ET - During his speech, Cain endorsed "Joe the Plumber" or Joseph Wurzelbacher, who rose to fame during the 2008 presidential election and is currently a Congressional candidate in Ohio.
4:57 p.m. ET - Rep. Cory Gardner of Colorado, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, led his criticism of Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency by invoking the Keystone oil pipeline.
"You heard in the State of the Union when the president got in front of the American people and said that he was for an all-of-the-above energy policy," Rep Gardner said. "But I would remind you that just days before, he nixed the Keystone XL Pipeline."
"And so my guess is that all-of-the-above is something that Yogi Berra might have said, 'I'm for all of the above, unless it's all of the above,'" he added.
4:56 p.m. ET - Cain said he quit the presidential race because of "gutter politics" and because he "chose to put family first."
4:54 p.m. ET - @KilloughCNN reports: A campaign sticker you haven't seen. (Made by conservative christian news website World Net Daily.)
4:50 p.m. ET - Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain started his remarks but taking a jab at Obama he frequently used on the campaign trail.
"Just so that there is no confusion, these teleprompters are not for me," he said pointing to the two on either side of him. "I don't do teleprompters."
4:08 p.m. ET – A clip of MSNBC host Rachel Maddow appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press" played in the introduction to the CPAC "All-Star Panel," in which she said conservatives were "waging war on contraception."
The clip was promptly booed by the audience. But nationally syndicated radio host Roger Hedgecock received cheers for his response: "I think she is the best argument in favor or her parents using contraception. I would be all for that and the rest of the crowd at MSNBC too for that matter."
4:00 p.m. ET - @KilloughCNN reports: An example of the heavy tea party presence at CPAC: People are passing out the "Tea Party Manifesto," a book by Joseph Farah, founder and editor of WorldNetDaily.
It's billed as a "road map" for "citizens to extricate themselves from the overreaching grip of government and reclaim the beliefs of the Founding Fathers."
3:37 p.m. ET - Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said Republicans need to unite to end Occupy DC (a reference to the Obama presidency), which he said has dominated for 1,115 days that he hopes will end on Jan. 20, 2013, when a Republican president is sworn in.
3:32 p.m. ET - @KilloughCNN reports: Overheard at CPAC: "I'm seeing Santorum and Newt stickers everywhere, but I haven't seen any Romney people."
3:22 p.m. ET - @KilloughCNN reports: At 15 years old, Justin Schuessler stands out among the packed crowds of working professionals at CPAC. But the high school sophomore, who's missing two days of school to be here, said he's having an "amazing" time.
His dad made a nearly two-hour drive from Edgewood, Maryland to drop him off this morning, then headed to work as a pastor at a church outside of Washington, D.C.
Schuessler said he's "always been really interested in politics," that is, since the ripe age of 10, when he first started to listening to Rush Limbaugh on the radio with his dad.
While Schuessler was a Rick Perry fan when the Texas governor was still a candidate, he said he now favors another Rick.
"If I was old enough to vote, I'd vote for Rick Santorum," he said. "He's a pretty staunch conservative and knows what he believes in."
2:46 p.m. ET - @KilloughCNN reports: Victoria Dooling, who manages tea party relations at TeaParty.net, also said she expects the 2012 elections to feel slightly different than the tea party-centric campaigns two years ago.
"Everyone was sort of mad then. This year they've all said we are now ready to go to work," she said. "The madness has turned into focused work."
2:43 p.m. ET - @KilloughCNN reports: When asked to name the candidate with the strongest tea party values today, several supporters of the conservative grassroots movement have had a hard time coming up with an answer.
"That's a tough one," one woman from Nevada said, as her friend nodded in agreement.
Several people have pointed to Herman Cain, saying his famous 9-9-9 tax plan captured the tea party goals of smaller government and "fiscal sanity."
It's a pattern Victoria Dooling said she is seeing among tea party groups nationwide. Dooling manages tea party relations at TeaParty.net and works with supporters all over the country.
"I think every tea party I have talked to has said they wish he were still in the race," she said.
2:25 p.m. ET - Kirk Cameron, of "Growing Pains" fame, told the audience it is their responsibility to "teach their children the right world view."
"Hope for my family's future and our nation does not begin at the White House, it begins at your house and at my house," Cameron said.
2:19 p.m. ET - @KilloughCNN reports: Ron Dove, a tea party supporter, traveled from Arizona to attend CPAC for the third time.
"Seems like there's more of a buzz this year," he said, talking about the conference. "It's crazy. But then again, it's always been crazy."
2:15 p.m. ET - See former American presidents ... CPAC-style ... here.
1:56 p.m. ET - Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who dropped his presidential bid in January, compared his candidacy to "Aggies," the nickname for graduates Texas A&M, his alam mater.
"Aggies never lose, we just run out of time," Perry said. "My presidential campaign just ran out of time."
Although he is no longer a candidate for the White House, Perry said "a committed 10th amendment conservative I will be until the last breathe I draw in my body."
1:54 p.m. ET – @PeterHambyCNN: Rick Perry comes out to Muse at CPAC
1:37 p.m. ET - More on the dating symposium from @KilloughCNN: Asked what are some relationship challenges specifically faced by conservatives, Elise said sometimes they can be somewhat "stiff."
"I know it's a little cliche but it is kinda true," he said, adding that it is OK to let loose and be a little "wacky" sometimes.
Several audience members suggested "gun club" as a great first date. See a picture of the gathering here.
1:33 p.m. ET - To prove a political point, House Speaker John Boehner painted a hypothetical picture for 2014, when he predicted there will be a Republican in the White House and a Republican-controlled Senate. He said the "utopia" would include economic freedom, lower tax rates, entitlement program reform, the implementation of Rep. Paul Ryan's budget, falling gas prices and the repeal of "Obamacare."
1:31 p.m. ET - @KilloughCNN reports: At a session on dating lessons for conservatives, dating coach Wayne Elise, 43, told a room of about 50 people there was one "kiss of death" on first dates.
"If you're boring, you're done," he said. "Never be boring."
1:25 p.m. ET - Ralph Reed, founder and chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition said he "likes Rick Santorum's candidacy," which focuses on the family structure.
"To restore America's economic strength you must first restore America's ... families and homes," Reed said summing up Santorum's message.
1:10 p.m. ET - Tactics similar to those former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani once used on organized crime should be employed to deal with some Latin American countries unfriendly to the United States, CPAC panelists said Thursday.
"My conclusion today is that we should treat these states, particularly the ones that we have mentioned here today - Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia, and probably Nicaragua - not so much as ideological adversaries which they are but as organized crime entities," former Assistant Secretary of State specializing in Latin America, Otto Reich, said. "They are run like the Mafia would run a country if the Mafia, our own national Mafia, wherever they are, would run a country if they took it over."
1:06 p.m. ET - Chuck Norris, who backs Newt Gingrich and who supported Mike Huckabee in 2008, is the star of a video playing at a National Rifle Association booth.
"Too many people have forgotten our nation was founded to protect freedom, like our second amendment right to keep and bear arms," Norris says in the video. "Freedom is not about what government can do for us, but about keeping government from doing things to us."
Identified in the video as a "Black Belt Patriot," Norris urges viewers to vote for candidates who "support freedom."
12:50 p.m. ET - Perry: Republican race is far from over
12:40 p.m. ET - Former presidential contender and Rep. Michele Bachmann said running for the White House was a series of humiliating experiences. She made fun of previous gaffes when describing the three things she learned during her bid: Where John Wayne was born, the day Elvis Presley was born and to "never forget the three things that you learn."
12:35 p.m. ET - Rep. Steve King of Iowa criticized government regulation, particularly in the diet of Americans. Changing the calorie count in packaged foods will not achieve the desired goal, he said.
"You cannot fool them by cutting calories out of the candy bar," King said.
And to those who consider overweight young people to be a national security concern: "Just extend basic training."
12:21 p.m. ET - @PeterHambyCNN: Rick Perry tells reporters at CPAC: "I haven’t left the fight. I went home, I reloaded my mag, and I am fighting on different front."
12:15 p.m. ET – In light of the recent discussion surround federal funding for contraceptives, former GOP presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry told reporters at CPAC he feels vindicated for saying in that Iowa TV ad that Obama is waging "a war on religion."
12:12 p.m. ET – @PeterHambyCNN: Mitch McConnell at CPAC: "Last week's jobs report happened in spite of Obama's policies, not because of them."
12:10 p.m. ET - @KilloughCNN reports: Janet Nelson, 70, and Jean Jordan, 65, describe themselves as two "political junkie" sisters from two different coasts. They reunited this week for the second year in a row at CPAC, with Nelson hailing from Washington and Jordan driving in from nearby Virginia.
Undecided on which candidate they will support for the Republican presidential candidate, both sisters said their main criteria is to find someone who will beat President Barack Obama.
"I really think independents are going to come over," Jordan said. "People who voted for Obama feel more or less betrayed."
The sisters said they're especially excited to see New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, but they get just as much, if not more, out of the lesser-known speakers.
This morning they said they were especially torn between two events.
"We were really conflicted at one point and ultimately had to give up Joe the Plumber for Marco Rubio," said Nelson.
12:06 p.m. ET - McConnell said presidents should "honor and embrace free exercise of religion, not suppress it," like President Obama has. The senior senator said Obama has forgotten he is supposed to lead all Americans and not be the president of the "Occupy Wall Street fan club."
12:03 p.m. ET – Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he enjoys attending CPAC because "conservatives are simply more fun than liberals." Why? "We're always right."
11:54 a.m. ET - Rep. Tom Graves of Georgia said it may take a generation to fix the culture of government dependency.
"Fathers need to be teaching their children not to count on the government to take care of them," Graves said.
11:43 a.m. ET - Johnson sarcastically congratulated America for arriving at "European socialism" and blamed the president for "just running for reelection."
11:40 a.m. ET - Freshman Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said "the left has been depressingly, depressingly successful at creating a culture of entitlement dependency." He went on to cite the number of Americans receiving food stamps and said too many Americans look to government for a false sense of security.
11:35 a.m. ET - @KilloughCNN reports: Spencer Chretien, a sophomore at the College of William and Mary, drove to CPAC with his school's college Republican group. Wearing a Rick Santorum sticker on his blazer, Chretien said he used to be a fan of former GOP presidential candidate and Rep. Michele Bachmann, but he recently became a supporter of the former Pennsylvania senator.
"He's the most conservative candidate," he said of Santorum, quickly adding that he doesn't like Newt Gingrich. "Newt would cost us House and Senate seats. He's highly erratic."
11:25 a.m. ET - Registration lines are starting to thin. Some attendees stood in line for more than one hour Thursday morning.
11:19 a.m. ET - Lee, a freshman senator who was elected in 2010 with support from the tea party movement, said he has been "disgusted" with more established representatives, who he said are content to increase the size of government and interfere in the day-to-day lives of Americans.
11:16 a.m. ET - Sen. Mike Lee of Utah announced his latest Senate endorsements from the CPAC stage: Sarah Steelman, who's running in Missouri and Clark Durant, who's running in Michigan. Durant is running against former Rep. Pete Hoekstra, among others, in the Republican primary to unseat incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow.
11:15 a.m. ET - @KilloughCNN reports: HSP Direct is selling official Rick Santorum sweater vests at $50 each. They have sold six in the last hour and hope to sell 250 this weekend. Only color available is navy blue.
11:04 a.m. ET - Rubio said the 2012 election is not between a "person we like and a person we don't" or between a Democrat and Republican, but between "someone who has failed ... and a change in direction."
"The stakes, I can't imagine them being any higher," he added.
11:01 a.m. - @PeterHambyCNN: most people at CPAC opt for suits and ties, but there's a fella here wearing a Tebow jersey
10:57 a.m. ET - @AdamATCNN: We need a CPAC glossary – Teleprompter: noun; Shorthand for 'the president may talk nice but he hasn't accomplished anything'
10:53 a.m. ET - Campaign buttons on sale at CPAC.
10:49 a.m. ET - Without economic reform, Rubio said the troubles in Europe will plague America.
"That's our future ... It is coming, we know that," Rubio said, unless the U.S. is able to strengthen the economy, government and its people.
10:45 a.m. ET - Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida criticized President Barack Obama and Democrats at the top of his address to the crowd. He said Republican primary fights are usually about who is most like Ronald Reagan, whereas Democrats "never fight about who's more like Jimmy Carter," a reference to the former Democratic president.
9:51 a.m. ET - @KilloughCNN reports: Former presidential candidate Herman Cain gave interviews in front of his bus, promoting his so-called solutions revolution. "It's time for another revolution. This time, it won't have bombs and bullets, but brains and balance." See the bus here.
9:47 a.m. ET - @PeterHambyCNN: CPAC panel this afternoon: "Conservative dating," moderated by Professional Dating Coach Wayne Elise. "Open to Conservative Singles."
9:40 p.m. ET - DeMint compared Republicans working with Democrats to the New England Patriots working with the New York Giants. He said compromise only works when the two teams have shared goals, which the two polititical parties in the U.S. do not.
9:43 a.m. ET - DeMint said the changing landscape in the presidential election is positive because it "scares them all." However, if Democratic Sen. Harry Reid remains majority leader, "it's a waste of a good president."
9:29 a.m. ET - South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint said the conference is "the huddle of the conservative movement ahead of the 2012 elections." The kingmaker said it energizes the party to "take the battle to the other side."
Serious question to the conservatives....
You say smaller government is better government.
You also say success in business qualifies you to run the government.
A smaller business is a less successful business.
So how does success in growing a business indicate probable success in shrinking government? They seem to me to be two entirely differenet endeavors, wtih two entirely different required skill sets.
Wow, that's a lot of fear, hate, lies and ignorance concentrated in one place. It could explode if it reaches critical mass, so hopefully law enforcement and mental health professionals are standing by.
v_mag, how true. The Cons keep bringing up Jimmy carter, but we've got W for at least 30 years to beat up on. Truth be told, he's only one sympton of the condition known as Conservative Amnesia Syndrome: the inability to recall what actually happened while the GOP drove this country off a cliff and into the abyss. With a lot of work and prayer, some of these poor, deluded fools have come round to see where they went wrong ( David Frum).
Tax cuts are good when we are trying to improve the economy. I think everyone can agree with that.
Stop that. I laughed so hard I just now came up for air. Please, stop doing that. Thanx.
Those types of cuts always create a recession. Each and every time. Reagan's tax cuts resulted in two self-inflicted recessions. He wised up. He listeend to the Democrats who told him to raise taxes to get out of it. Bush, what guy: enacted two rounds of tax cuts; didn't listen to his own budget director who warned of trillion dollar annual deficits; didn't listen when Democrats called for him raise taxes to at least pay for his wars; and we know how bad that recession was that followed.
v_mag pointed out:
Four the Ignored said: Sorry, but Obama only gets one election on an anti-Bush vote.
Thanks, I missed that. Democrats have been running against the name of Reagan for over 30 years. Get used to it. Democrats are going to runing against Bush for decades to come. Besides, Republicans cannot invoke the name of Reagan anymore. Why do you think McCain got his oars blown out the water in 2008? Because he tried to invoke the name of Reagan, while Democrats invoked the name of Bush.
Try it again in 2012, and watch what happens. Republicans didn't invoke Reagan in 2010, and they won. Now they want to invoke the name of Reagan in 2012. ??? Bring it. LMAO.
wonder how many times the name of Ronald Reagan will be envoked there, even though Reagan would be considered a RINO in today's GOP.
Demint says "compromise is not possible, because we have no shared interests". This exposes the conservatives for what they really are, enemies of the American People. Vote these scumbags back into the 19th century where they came from. They have no business in a government that was designed around compromise.
I know I'm hammering away at this, but somebody tell me which Repugnant candidate is different from Bush, and in what way? Are they all promising to make 2012-16 a reprise of Bush policies? If not, what will be different? If so, why would we vote for them?
Repugnants HAVE to deal with the Bush legacy, because they are who he was. If they are not, they have to disavow his policies, because nobody wants to go back to that. He's your albatross, GOP, and he's getting stinky hanging around your necks. By election day, you won't be able to hide from the stench of Bush.
I long for the good old days when a sitting President would run for re-election on his record of accomplishment. But Obama and the Democrats can't do that since there has been nothing but lies, failure and fingerpointing for 4 years. Even using Obama's own standards, he's been an abject failure.
But since he has no pride or integrity, he'll beg, beg and plead for 4 more years to try and do what he proved he couldn't do the first 4 years. It'll be a pitiful sight. Some Americans, feeling pity on the poor failure will grant him his wish. The vast majority will pat him on the back, tell him he was in WAY over his head and show him the door this Novermber.
Bottomline is that the American people hate being snookered and would be folled again by Obama the con artist.
The "Party of Family Values" – let's see what they are up to today: they gather to stop women from having the right to control their own body. To scare the population into thinking the Obama health care plan is bad for the country when everyother industrialized county has health care for all. To further damage the middle class by demanding tax breaks for the wealthy 1% and nothing for the middle or lower classes. For standing in the way of education on evolution, family planning, global warming and the need for other energy outside of fossil fuel. With the unemployment rate as it is why are they not concentrating on this instead of the social issues . Their treatment of President Obama since he took office can only be described as shameful. Every thing he attempted to do to help the county was voted down by the party of "no." This former Republican will never again vote for any Republican running for office. Obama in 2012
CNN failed to mention the speech times of Doctor Doom and Lex Luthor at CPAC.
Again spot on v_mag. Flipper the Elitist Robot is practically GWB V 2.0. They're both spolied rich kids riding daddy's coattails and hanging with their sleazy neocon and psychopathic corporatist friends. The only difference is that Flopper doesn't even pretend to be "compassionate" with his phony conservativism.
So many anti-Christ’s in one place – better be on the look-out for those lightening bolts....... and maybe another earthquake?
If you arent a Republican, why do you care about CPAC? Because you're jealous?
Can any of you libs speak in anything that doesn't involve using catchphrases?
WOW! All the loons in one room... SOME ONE LOCK THE DOOR!!!!!!!!!!!
What a classless remark Roger Hedgecock made about Rachel Maddow....to dislike a person is one thing; to say they are a reason for contraception.....tacky.
Truth and Nothing But the Truth... you must be auditioning for some kind of ultra right wing radio host job because every single word I read from you is 100% pure entertainment value only.
What " good old days" are you referring to, Truth? Re-eeection has always been a begging process to certain extent. I seem to remember someone not too long ago who told us to re-elect him because his task was not done: he had already destoyed a budget surplus by initiating tax cuts and expanding government at the same time, and he did it during wartime to boot. Ah, that's right, he was elected thanks to massive fraud in Ohio by Ken Blackwell, remember him? He was previously elected by judicial fiat even though he lost the popular vote. I'm sure you don't want to remember or invoke him, do you, since it would ruin the fantasy world you live in? Please, Obama will win in a walk, because Mittens is the weakest candidate in recent memory and offers no compelling reason to vote for him, other than by right of sucession ( and we are not a monarchy). No Republican I know of is excited by him, and I suspect you are not, either, when you are off your meds.
To Southern Lady ~ your point is well said backed up with real facts in a thoughtful presentation, but these GOPits don't pay any attention to facts and reality. These creatures want to go back the time when the bible was the only book in town so it was used as a school book. Back before penicillin, heck ~ back before doctors washed their hands. When you could get away with “might was right” and greed was always good.
So you need to think up childish stories full of insults and spiteful lies if you truly want to get their attention, and that's only the beginning.
And way more effort than they're worth.
Lies and Nothing But Lies ~ and all the GOPits spewing ~ how can you look yourself in the mirror – oh that's right, blood sucker parasites don't cast a reflection.
CPAC – Conservative Pukes Against Compromise
Ron paul!!!!!!! he does nothing but tell the truth. but hes "crazy" right? those of you who think this do not fully understand his positions. like his opposition the the civil rights act (he opposed the Jim Crow Laws). he just wants to protect private property rights. let the owner choose who he/she wants on his/her property. he doesnt believe govt should force them to segregate or force them to serve everybody.
The only thing worse and more disgusting than listening to the GOP presidential nominee hopefuls blabber on TV is listening to the ones who couldn't get there blabber on at their ultra-extremist conference.
"3:37 p.m. ET – Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said Republicans need to unite to end Occupy DC (a reference to the Obama presidency)"
Even the GOtP realize that Obama is working for the 99%. This statement proves it.
This statement also proves that the GOtP IS NOT working for 99%.
THEY ARE NOT WITH US
THEY ARE AGAINST US
They want to see us fall
They want to see us fail
So they can get back in power,