Perry: 'Time for a little rebellion'
March 7th, 2014
04:00 PM ET
6 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. Rudy NYC

    “It’s time for a little rebellion on the battlefield of ideas.”
    ".....proclaiming “red state America” is better off than blue states...."
    -------------------------
    The reddest state of them all seems to be the state of the GOP. I find the divisive rhetoric extremely troubling.

    March 7, 2014 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  2. Rogue351

    Who wants a president whose main goal is rebellion ? Or being so religious that you cannot relate with most outside of your religion. Neither are good qualities for a president. Perry- Stop wasting money and start giving some back. You are not going to get elected, face it. Instead of thinking of yourself. Why not use this money to a better end as opposed to throwing it away on an election you cannot win. Especially since most of the money goes directly to the media. Talk about fueling the media. The Tea Party and the GOP always complain about the media but they are always willing to throw more at them. They tried subverting the media by creating their own via Glenn Beck, Hanity and Limbaugh but it has not panned out so well for them. These people are not looked at as reliable new source but as conspiracy theory entertainment.

    March 7, 2014 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  3. Malory Archer

    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...

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Gerrymandering. Just explaining....

    March 7, 2014 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  4. kiskak

    An elected governor calling for a rebellion. How responsible of him.

    March 7, 2014 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  5. Andrew

    Republicans are for limited government? Really? Then, get out of the way, and don't make laws preventing women from getting an abortion, and limiting where clinics (30 miles from a hospital) can operate from. To me that sounds like government deciding what is best... exactly what Republicans blast Democrats for doing.

    March 7, 2014 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  6. Liberal Iowan

    States don't come any redder than Mississippi. How come he didn't mention how well they are doing?

    March 7, 2014 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  7. dbrow

    "The reddest state of them all seems to be the state of the GOP. I find the divisive rhetoric extremely troubling." Of course you find it troubling. It's going to be hard on you when you have to make your way without subsiting on your fellow citizen taxpayers.

    March 7, 2014 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  8. Susan

    Perry is a joke. The tea party are a bunch of traitors! Vote Democrat! Go Hillary!

    March 7, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  9. grumpy0ldman

    Go ahead Governor Goodhair, run again, we will slap you down again. Most of the voters are smarter than the ones in Texas. We don't want your Taliban style rebellion.

    March 7, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  10. Pliny

    Even when the Democrats are loosing....you don't hear THIS kind of talk coming from them.

    What is it about the GOP and "conservatives" that their default position is arrogant hate-speak? Why are they selling their ideas with 'fear'?

    It's pretty obvious that they are on the wane. Their lifestyles and idea and ideals are in decline. Fewer and fewer Americans are buying what they sell. So is this vile rhetoric a means to promote their agenda? Or is it their anger at realizing that they are in thier death-throes?

    March 7, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  11. IreneN

    So should Louisiana, Florida and Texas forget about any government relief money for any hurricanes that hit at least one of those states just about every year? Maybe federal government should be answering "We'll pray for you..."

    March 7, 2014 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  12. plenty

    Sorry Rick, wearing glasses doesn't make you smarter.

    March 7, 2014 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  13. Flagship, NC

    ROGER IS CORRECT IN HIS POST:

    "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 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  14. CBH

    Rick Perry is excellent at tooting his own horn, but (as usual) he leaves out the negatives of my state. Texas ranks near the bottom in adults and children who don't have adequate food and access to healthcare.

    The Texas education system is nearly bankrupt–which is a result of his decisions to change the way education is funded in our state.

    Rick Perry and other conservatives HAVE brought many jobs to Texas, but many of those companies are not satisfied with Texas after moving here–citing education and living conditions as being key concerns for remaining in the state.

    1. DON"T LISTEN TO RICK PERRY.

    2. DON"T JUDGE THE REST OF US TEXANS BY RICK PERRY, EITHER. He was elected, but a large number of Texans don't want him in office.

    March 7, 2014 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  15. RJ

    I guess CPAC is the forum for religious nuts to spout off their kooky (and creepy) vision for our country, but still it's disconcerting that the Republican party is still talking about legislating morality and breaching the Constitutional principal of the separation of church and state.

    March 7, 2014 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  16. MIke

    Lets see...Perry reprsents a state at the bottom in education, healthcare and few other things. Though Texas is number in corpoarate, special interest and religious support.

    March 7, 2014 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  17. Independent

    'Time for a little rebellion'? Yeah, it's time to elect people that want to work for all of America, that leaves you and your cronies out Perry.

    March 7, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  18. Evenstar

    Political rebellion is one thing, but armed rebellion against a democratically elected government is contrary to what this nation is all about.
    For better or worse the country and the world is changing, and it can't be stopped as much as many would like it to. In a changing environment the one who adapts quickest survives.

    March 7, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  19. Larry L

    Governor "Oops" is trying to win the crazy right-wing... a group he already controls and a group that absolutely cannot get him elected POTUS. He's lucky not to be arrested by Federal Marshals for the "pay-to-play" system of corruption he uses to get campaign funds.

    March 7, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  20. Dizzyd

    'Fact is, the GOP is out of ideas and stuck in the '50s' – the 1850s, that is!

    March 7, 2014 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  21. AmreicanPR

    There are few Peoples politicians and too many Money Mongols. Our politicians, to include all the above motioned have two things in mind, to make their families richer and their own business empire. That is their agenda... now our politicians have resulted to lying to the People, for access to the MONEY moving/laundering!

    March 7, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  22. Lenny Pincus

    Really? Red states are better off? That is laughably, demonstrably wrong, but the kind of oddballs that need to gather once a year to group-stroke their bizarre political concepts don't have enough of a connection to reality to realize it.

    March 7, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  23. just asking

    Rudy NYC
    I find the divisive rhetoric extremely troubling.
    --

    interesting... you seem to have absolutely no problem with it the last 5 years as obama and the democrats have pitted every possible segment of our society against another part. rich against poor, men against woman, black against white, hispanic against white, etc. it is the primary tactic of the left in order for a minority to gain control.

    March 7, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  24. ralph

    "Perry says he learned from his mistakes".

    Yes, next time he will try to be less stupid.

    March 7, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  25. MarkW

    Has this airheaded male Palin remembered yet which parts of our government he wants to indiscriminantly annihilate?

    California is experiencing an historic drought like Texas did two years ago, both of which were made worse by the global warming that Perry fantasizes "a growing number of scientists don't think is happening". I wonder if he plans to go there and do another ineffectual prayer to Sky Spirit for rain? I'm sure they can't wait for his effective leadership in that area.

    Man these conservatives are pieces of work.

    March 7, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
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