National Harbor, Maryland (CNN) - Day two of the Conservative Political Action Conference – better known by its initials, CPAC – is underway at a major convention center at National Harbor, just south of the nation's capital.
The conference is the largest annual gathering of conservative leaders and activists, and when there's no Republican in the White House, it's a must-attend cattle call for GOP presidential hopefuls looking to pass the conference's conservative litmus test.
One of those possible presidential contenders, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, said it was "time for a little rebellion on the battlefield of ideas,” while another potential White House candidate, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, gave what sounded like a presidential campaign stump speech.
Here are the latest developments:
Perry ignites audience at CPAC
By CNN's Ashley Killough
A fired-up Gov. Rick Perry, who’s considering another presidential bid, kicked off Friday morning with a rousing speech, declaring “It’s time for a little rebellion on the battlefield of ideas.”
The longtime Texas governor reiterated his consistent message proclaiming “red state America” is better off than blue states because of conservative governors who push limited government and entitlement reform.
He named Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker as examples of leaders making progress in their states because of conservative principles.
He highlighted Walker’s effort to curb bargaining rights and reform the pension system, bringing “red state principles” to Wisconsin, a state with large swaths of Democratic voters.
Noticeably absent from his list of top governors was another governor who prides himself in bringing Republican ideals to his blue state and who’s also considering a White House run: Chris Christie. The New Jersey leader on Thursday boasted his ability to embed conservative principles into his governing and attempt to reform the pension system.
Then again, it’s no secret that Perry and Christie havent been the best of friends.
Switching from the states to Washington, Perry blasted the policies of the Obama administration, including health care, foreign policy and the rising debt.
“I am here today to say we don’t have to accept recent history, we just need to change the presidency,” he said.
The folksy governor called on Washington to return to “the few things the Constitution establishes as the federal government’s role,” such as national defense.
“And what the heck: deliver our mail; preferably on time and on Saturdays,” he said, drawing laughter and applause.
On a roll, the governor continued making demands of the government, bringing the crowd to its feet as he closed out his remarks.
“Get out of the health care business! Get out of the education business! Stop hammering industry! Let the sleeping giant of American enterprise create prosperity again,” he cheered.
Perry hoping for 'a second chance' with voters
CPAC crowd stands for Rand
Sen. Rand Paul stepped on stage Friday at CPAC-and into his element.
The Kentucky Republican, whose libertarian fight in the Senate is often met with a tepid response, spoke before an audience Friday that treated him like a rock star.
Wearing blue jeans, a blazer and a red tie, Paul opened up his speech with what could easily be a preamble to a White House campaign.
“Imagine a time when our great country is again governed by the Constitution. Imagine a time when the White House is once again occupied by a friend of liberty,” he said. “You may think I'm talking about electing Republicans. I'm talking about electing lovers of liberty.”
Paul hit on his usual touchstones, including a need to stand up for an individual’s right to trial by jury and to stand against the National Security Agency. The senator and potential 2016 presidential contender recently filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over the NSA’s phone metadata collection program.
“If you have a cell phone, you are under surveillance,” he said. “I believe what you do on your cell phone is none of their damn business.”
Paul also made repeated attacks against President Barack Obama, arguing that the current White House occupant’s “timid defense of liberty” sets dangerous precedents for “lawlessness.”
“He’s got a pen, he’s got a phone, he doesn’t care what the law is,” Paul said. “A tyranny will ensue, and we must stop this President.”
Paul was playing off of Obama’s State of the Union address, in which he pledged to make 2014 a “year of action"–with or without Congress–by threatening to use his pen and phone to issue executive orders among other authorities.
Standing with Rand
To say CPAC is full of Paul supporters would be an understatement. This is his crowd-well, a part of his crowd. Paul is eager to expand his base, and expand the GOP in general.
He’s been aggressively trying to broaden the party by talking about the need to include not only libertarians, but even Democrats and minority voters that don’t traditionally fall in the GOP column.
Paul supporters could be seen at all corners of the conference this week, easily spotted by their “I Stand With Rand” stickers and signs.
Quite fittingly, the first-term senator walked out on stage Friday to the lyrics of a famous 1990's Chumbawamba song: “I get knocked down / But I get up again / You’re never going to keep me down.”
The senator certainly made that message clear as he closed out his remarks, reminding the audience of the times he’s railed against opposition, even against those in his own party.
“When the President refused to rule out droning of American citizens, I took a stand. I filibustered,” he said, talking about his near 13-hour stand-off in the Senate last year when he questioned the legal use of drones on American citizens.
The 2013 episode further catapulted him into political fame, despite already having a famous father-Ron Paul, three time presidential candidate and a longtime congressman from Texas.
“When I discovered that the NSA spied on us…I took a stand,” he said. “I sued the President.”
Santorum: GOP doesn't need a moderate
By: CNN’s Dana Davidsen
Rick Santorum said the Republican Party needs to elect an unapologetic conservative, not a moderate candidate, in 2016.
“We’re told that we have to put aside what we believe is in the best interest of the country so a Republican candidate can win,” the former senator from Pennsylvania and 2012 GOP presidential candidate said Friday at CPAC.
Winning the White House, he said, “…may be a win for the Republican candidate but it will be a devastating loss for America.
Santorum's comments stand in contrast to those of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, considered a more moderate Republican whose pragmatism left him snubbed from the conservative gathering last year.
“We don't get to govern if we don't win," Christie said addressing the conference on Thursday.
“It's not only bad when we don't get to govern, 'cause we don't get to mold and change our society. What's worse is they do. And they're doing it to us right now. So please, let us come out here resolved to not only stand for our principles, but let's come out of this conference resolved to win elections again," Christie added.
Both Christie and Santorum are considering bids for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Their divide over the best path forward for the GOP highlights the divide within the party – a topic focused on heavily at the conference, which is the largest annual gathering of conservative leaders and activists.
Invoking popularity and message of Pope Francis, Santorum said Republicans lost in 2012 because they failed to connect with “working class” America, adding that the party needs stop using the terms that divide American, like “middle class,” used by the “other side.”
The Republican Party should not “adopt a class-envy, leftist language that divides American among themselves,” he said.
Addressing the audience on the second day of the conservative gathering, after a series of high-profile Republicans used the platform to criticize President Barack Obama on all fronts, Santorum said the right should instead let the failings of the Democratic Party speak for itself.
“I understand why people come out on this stage and they bang away at President Obama. I know, it’s fun, I get it. It’s also easy, getting easier, I might add,” he said. “But that isn’t going to win people over who are sitting at home and hurting. They don’t feel better, we feel better.”
Santorum, a favorite among many social and fiscal conservatives, mounted a formidable primary challenge to Mitt Romney in 2012, battling the eventual Republican presidential nominee deep into the primary calendar.
Billionaire Foster Friess introduced Santorum at the conference. The conservative businessman was a major supporter of Santorum’s 2012 bid, dumping funds into the a super PAC backing the conservative candidate, which helped Santorum battle against the much better funded Romney.
Adding fuel to speculation that Santorum might launch another presidential bid, he plans to head to New Hampshire next week and has already made trips to Iowa and South Carolina. The three states kick of the presidential primary and caucus calendar.
Mike Huckabee weighs in on Hillary Clinton
Mike Huckabee and Hillary Clinton never faced off in the 2008 presidential general election, but they both went far in their respective party's primary. And they could find themselves on the campaign trail again in 2016, as neither have ruled out a second presidential bid.
Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas (a position Clinton’s husband once held), said his shared roots with Hillary Clinton in the southern state could give him an advantage, arguing he knows “her better than anyone else.”
As the 2016 presidential calendar gets closer, Huckabee told reporters after his CPAC speech that she’s certainly a relevant figure in politics.
“If the Democrats want to continue to say that she is by far and away the frontrunner and she is the likely nominee, (then) she is the standard bearer for Democratic messaging,” he said.
Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican and another potential presidential contender, has repeatedly said former President Bill Clinton’s past as a “sexual predator” could be a liability for Democrats as they attempt to paint themselves as the pro-women party.
But Huckabee said he’s not as interested in bringing personal issues to the table.
“Bill Clinton is not going to be on the ballot in 2016 or 2014. It’s very possible that his wife will,” he said. “What she said, what she did, how she has served both as a senator and secretary of state, I think that’s all fair play. I personally don’t like to see us get into personal issues of candidates, because once you go down that road, it’s hard for that person to come back that.”
The former governor argued a bigger liability for Hillary Clinton in 2016 will be the Benghazi, Libya attack at U.S. diplomatic post in September 2012 that left four Americans killed, including the U.S. ambassador, while she was secretary of state.
“We have to have a rational explanation as to why we didn’t scramble some type of effort to go in and save and rescue them,” he said. “I think that’s problematic, and I think a lot of Americans will care about that….An attack upon an ambassador or an embassy or a consulate is really an attack upon Americans.”
In his speech Friday, Huckabee hit on recurring themes heard at the conference this week, blasting the Obama administration on a range of issues, from government overreach to weak foreign policy.
But Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, affirmed his religious views and warned of a coming doom for the country if it doesn’t reclaim its Christian foundation.
“I know there’s a God, and I know this nation would not exist had he not been the midwife of its birth,” he said. “If this nation forgets our God, then God will have every right to forget us.”
Rick Perry's good advice
By CNN's Paul Steinhauser
Longtime Texas Gov. Rick Perry is the first speaker at CPAC Friday.
Perry, who made a failed bid for the GOP nomination in 2012, is not running again this year for re-election as governor, but he's considering another bid for the White House in 2016. But if he runs again, he says he's learned from his mistakes.
Perry announced his bid in August 2011, to much fanfare, and instantly zoomed to the top of the national polls in the race for the Republican nomination. But thanks to many well publicized gaffes, it all came crashing down for Perry, who dropped out of the race in January 2012.
Thursday, when asked by CNN Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper what lessons he learned from his 2012 campaign, Perry said "I won't have major back surgery six weeks before the announcement."
"We go through humbling events in our lives. And that one certainly was. Anyone who watched that campaign knows it was a very humbling time for me. But that's not necessarily bad. I judge people on how do you react after a failure. How do you pick yourself up and go forward. Certainly it's part of what drives me to finish up my 11 months as a governor of Texas on high notes, economically for our state which we're doing. And it is an option for me. And it's one that sometime in 2015, I'll make the decision whether or not that is the avenue that i want to pursue," Perry said on "The Lead with Jake Tapper."
Huckabee to talk to reporters
How serious is Mike Huckabee when it comes to launching a second bid for the Republican presidential nomination?
We may get some clues Friday morning, when Huckabee takes questions from reporters following his speech to CPAC. A Republican source close to the former Arkansas governor told CNN that Huckabee would hold a media availability right after his address.
Huckabee ran for the White House in 2008, winning the Iowa caucuses and then capturing a bunch of southern contests, before eventually dropping out when Sen. John McCain of Arizona became the all but certain GOP nominee.
Huckabee, who hosts a weekend program on the Fox News Channel, recently told his network that "I would say maybe at this point it is 50-50. I don't know. I don't know that I can put a percentage on it," when asked about his chances of running for president again.
The former Arkansas governor said he would make a final decision after next year's midterm elections.
I'm just curious: is there a similar event that liberals hold? If so I expect to see wall-to-wall coverage of it, updated every 15 minutes or so like CNN is doing for this idiotic event.
so much hypocrisy, gimmicks and ignorance in one place at the same time should not be allowed. PAC of loons cheering themselves on.
GOP is pretty much gone dead from the picture for another fifty years or so.
latest update on the current speaker......."Obama should be impeached....he's not a citizen.....ACA......Benghazi.......ACA.......Obama bad......Benghazi.....ACA." Step and repeat for each speaker
Who knows, maybe the cretins who are poor and stupid and always vote against their best interest will be impressed by this idiotic display.
Conservative Republicans just don't get it. The conservative litmus test is the problem. Pushing candidates further to the right of the political spectrum is not the way attract the majority of voters in the middle during a general election.
-–I would eradicate SS, Medicare, Ooop, I forgot the third one, Oh, Education. -Rick perry. This is GOP theme, rethuglican nonsense.
How can you profess to be a Bible carrying Christian yet you do not want poor people to have access to good medical care. " Whatever you do for the least of my brothers ", you have done it for me". What a bunch of hypocrits.
Yesterday we were talking about this at work. We need a real rebellion because what is happening to the American people right now will affect our lives and our families lives for generations.
I know the libs can't handle this but here is one for you concerning Obamacare. In a couple of years you will feel this pain. Many doctors are opting out of insurance. It is becoming more and more and it will be worse after the elections. Doctors are opting out so you have to pay cash and then fight with your insurance company to collect. It has happened to 3 friends of mine and we are government employees with government insurance. What happens when you get very ill and have to pay out of pocket? You will die, its that simple because I am sure many americans can not pay out of pocket for cancer treatment.
You don't have to believe me, the media isnt reporting it, and Harry Reid will say its a lie.... but remember I TOLD YOU. And it will happen.
Jethro Bodine rides again. I'd love to see Perry get the nomination and watch Hillary annihilate him.
Governor Perry didn't do his homework...at LEAST for Wisconsin. Wisconsin has DROPPED in its ranking for new jobs created. Left Wing Minnesota FAR SURPASSES Wisconsin, in that area. And..the mix of Democrats and Republicans is about the same. Hmmmmmm..I guess that doesn't say much about Scott Walker's stated "give to the Rich...so they can give to the Poor" Philosophy.
Last I heard Texas was going to secede from the Union.
Republicans , no new ideas .
When Donald Trump and rick Perry can get a standing ovation you know the GOP cant be taken serious. LMAO.
How odd that Perry wants the Post Office, which used to be totally socialized and is still a government puppet, to compete more aggressively against free market delivery companies. Shouldn't he trying to break it up, like Medicare? Oh, wait, government intervention in business isn't automatically bad, after all!
Hey...the Republicans NEED a "strategy meeting"....more OFTEN than NOT. When their party is trying to convince 50% of the voting population to vote against their OWN vested interests and FOR the vested interests of the top 1%....It's a daunting task and NEEDS "coordination".
Time for a LOT of rebellion.
Apparently " a revolution on the battle field of ideas" involves preaching the same tired talking points over and over to the sycophantic extremist choir
It's GREAT that Perry wants to cut EVERYTHING...except...."National Defense". Just look at the map of military contractors and military bases in Texas. But for THEM...most Texans would be picking cotton on large "land Baron" estates...just like they did before the Civil War. Who BELIEVES ANYTHING this guy says?
Well Texas has gotten out of the education business and it works! I know it works because as a college professor near Houston I have students that arrive not able to use a ruler or understand how to break an inch (one(1)) down into four (4) quarters (1/4). I actually had to explain it to five students in one class with four quarters at the start of this semester. How did I know that it would work? I have had to do it for each of the previous six semesters that I have been in Texas.
latest update on the current speaker......."Obama should be impeached....he's not a citizen.....ACA......Benghazi.......ACA.......Obama bad......Benghazi.....ACA." Step and repeat for each speaker.
haha! They all have the same talking poinst but something tells me Rick Perry would still not remember it.
Wasn't Rick Perry the Govonor Texas when Cameron Todd Williingham was executed? So does his "revolution of ideas" extend to his role in the murder of Willingham. Rick Perry should be tried for murder. He didn't want to be seen as being soft on crime, especially during an election season and so he refused to review the case. Do we need another leader who refuses to look at the facts before putting people in harms way?
“It’s time for a little rebellion on the battlefield of ideas.”
By presenting the same ideas that national voters rejected in the past two presidential elections. Some revolution, Rick.
" “It’s time for a little rebellion on the battlefield of ideas.”
A nice way giving a shout out to those in the Tea Party advocating violence toward our president and government in general.
"I hope that's not where we're going, but you know if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? I'll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out." —Nevada GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle, floating the possibility of armed insurrection by conservatives, interview with right-wing radio host Lars Larson, Jan. 14, 2010
"Our nation was founded on violence. The option is on the table. I don't think that we should ever remove anything from the table as it relates to our liberties and our freedoms." —Tea Party-backed Texas GOP congressional candidate Stephen Broden, suggesting the violent overthrow of the U.S. government if Republicans don't win at the ballot box, interview with Dallas's WFAA-TV, Oct. 21, 2010
Rick Perry has succeeded – I find him completely revolting.