Perry: 'Time for a little rebellion'
March 7th, 2014
04:00 PM ET
10 months ago

Perry: 'Time for a little rebellion'

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

3:30pm ET

CPAC crowd stands for Rand

By CNN's Ashley Killough

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.”

3:00pm ET

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.

11:30am ET

Mike Huckabee weighs in on Hillary Clinton

By CNN's Ashley Killough

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.”

7:30am ET

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."

6:00am ET

Huckabee to talk to reporters

By CNN's Paul Steinhauser

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.


Filed under: 2014 • 2016 • CPAC • Mike Huckabee • Rick Perry
soundoff (302 Responses)
  1. MC55

    He forgot to add that red state conservative governors pushed through gerrymandering and voter suppression because no one likes the anti-science, anti-woman, anti-poor, anti-immigrant, anti-democracy, anti-education, anti-middle class (pro-rich), anti-healthcare (medicare expansion for the poor), anti-progressive, party-first, pro-gridlock, backward, "boy-I-wish-it-was-1955" gop policies.

    March 7, 2014 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  2. Noneya

    I think Perry and his Tealiban buddies should get their little rebellion started. That way we can be rid of them once and for all.

    March 7, 2014 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  3. Roger

    "The longtime Texas governor reiterated his consistent message proclaiming “red state America” is better off than blue states"

    Oh, you mean like how the top 12 states that receive more federal dollars than they send out are all RED STATES? Or that the top 10 unhealthiest states are all RED STATES? Is that what you mean by better off, being a drain on the rest of the country in terms of tax dollars and healthcare costs, Gov. Perry?

    March 7, 2014 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  4. Darw1n

    Perry is the only guy I've ever seen who doesn't look smarter in glasses.

    March 7, 2014 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  5. greenaxe

    Alright, lets start packing the clown car! Rick, we didn't forget how foolish you looked in 2012.

    March 7, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  6. david saint

    only republicans would use examples of the likes of Scott Walker, currently under investigation for campaign fraud among other things, as leaders. Fact is, the GOP is out of ideas, and stuck in the 50's

    March 7, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  7. SS

    Um.....Rick where have you been the GOP has been fresh out of ideas for years.

    March 7, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  8. Mateo

    I just lost my breakfast. It's these same nuts that have eroding away the middle class over the last 30 years. We don't need for them to finish us off.

    March 7, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  9. Noneya

    "proclaiming “red state America” is better off than blue states"
    Apparently Perry isn't aware that most of the welfare recipients live in "Red States"...

    March 7, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  10. Debbie

    I live in Texas, and Rick Perry does not speak for me. Unfortunately, I live in one of the gerrymandered districts, so my vote never counts. Too bad. I believe in science, and I also believe in democracy. Texas will be sorry that it never expanded medicaid, because private companies will have to relocate to California and other places where their employees can actually get healthcare. Texas, the state with the most insured, and Rick Perry aims to keep it that way!

    March 7, 2014 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  11. hohotai

    As long as the GOP is burdened by whack jobs like Cruz and Palin they will not be able to dominate the national political scene. Cruz thinks that the Democrats love it when moderate Republicans are nominated. To the contrary, Democrats love it when the GOP puts forth buffoons from the radical right. There may be pockets of radicalism in the country, but on the whole we do not want ideological purists, we want people who can work together and get things done. Look what is happening to our national debt while a few TPers in the House work to block any and all attempts to deal with it that don't live up to their "principles".

    March 7, 2014 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  12. Debbie

    Sorry, I meant Texas the state with the most uninsured. My typo.

    March 7, 2014 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  13. bob smith

    He seems to forget that it is republicans that want to launch yet another trillion dollar war without the ability to pay for it.
    That it is conservatives that can't seem to understand that the USA is bankrupt and can't afford to pay it's bills.

    You can't quit your job and expect to keep your house from foreclosure. you can't cut taxes on those left who can pay them while increasing spending. Democrats may increase spending but at least try to increase taxes to go along with that. Republicans want to increase military spending but continue to cut taxes.

    March 7, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  14. Anthony

    It is time for a little rebellion, starting in Texas. Go Wendy Davis!

    March 7, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  15. Zolicon

    If those Politicians where half as good at Solving the Problems as they are at making deceiving Speeches the United States would truly be the greatest country on Earth.

    March 7, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  16. Matt W

    @MC55, if they have those types of policies and no one likes them, how do they continue to get elected as governors & Congressman? Just asking...

    March 7, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  17. txan

    Um, he's slightly misinformed. His red states have more poverty, more obesity, higher percentages of smokers, less educational attainment, and worse health care. Nicely done GOP governors.

    March 7, 2014 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  18. ItsAMirage

    Dixie-Mason states should remember what happened during the last rebellion :)

    March 7, 2014 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  19. Tellingitlikeitis

    The GOP is in the sorriest state if they have to listen to Perry and heed any statements he makes.

    March 7, 2014 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  20. Ryan in Texas

    I don't credit Perry with Texas having the most Fortune 500 and 1000 companies so much as blame the left leaning policies in NY and California that caused them to lose their top spots.
    It's time for the battle of ideas.
    On the left, we have European style decay.
    On the right, the hard choices that come with facing the realities of Global competition.
    There are no easy answers.
    Sadly, they kept on voting for the ideas of the left – and the Big Gov't that is primary to that – in Greece right up until bankruptcy.

    March 7, 2014 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  21. Gary D.

    Why not just pose for photos with Rob Ford?

    March 7, 2014 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  22. JC

    Would somebody please let retro rick know what century this is, he clearly sounds like he's still living stuck in the early twentieth century and isn't even aware of most realities like the outdated losing fiasco referred to as the post office (don't shock him too much with the details or the fact of the internet's effect on it) or the outdated military structure with so much waste and inefficiency resulting strongly from his type of outdated mindset that bigger is better and the only answer to today's world makeup and issues.

    March 7, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  23. GOP = Greed Over People

    I certainly hope the cons believe this con when he states it was the "surgery" that made him look like a moron in 2012.

    Please, oh, please let him reel them in!

    March 7, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  24. Nick

    Wonder if CNN will use the term "cattle call" when speaking about Hillary during the Dem primaries.

    March 7, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  25. Gary Douglas

    Rick Perry. Isn't he one of that troupe of clowns who pretended to be qualified to be president that ran for the GOP nomination last time around?

    March 7, 2014 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
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