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.
Former GOP says:
March 7, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm
seriously??? have you been living in a cave the last 5 years? obama and democrat class warfare attacks are endless. not a day goes by when they are not demonizing somebody or some group that does not agree with their far left agenda.
Again, I ask you to back up your assertions with fact. Not your perceived, paranoid rhetoric.
Are you going to post each days demonization of the past 5 years. Skip a day and your absolutism fails.
Jesus was not a Liberal he was most likely a Libertarian. There is a HUGE difference!
By almost every measure, red states are not better off than blue states. They typically have higher unemployment, more crime, more income disparity, and ironically, they receive more federal money per federal tax dollar paid than blue states. Red states should have a 'little rebellion' and leave the country, the rest of us would be much better off as a result.
I agree. We need to rebel here in Texas and throw the conservative, Republican bums out. Time to join the modern age people, forward motion not backwards...
Hey Rick "Irrelevant" Perry - There is NO such thing as "Limited Government". Your party uses government action to peer into bedrooms and into sonogram rooms, to help the rich, and to use eminent domain to take land away from powerless people. The other party uses government to help the poor and to throw money at people who are not here legally. So, any politician should be barred from using the words "Small Government" - no such thing. I'm ready for Slick Rick to leave office!!
Jesus went from village to village preaching the word of God. For free
He healed the sick and lame. For free.
He fed the hungry. For free.
He clothed the poor. For free.
My point? Jesus was liberal and Christians are Supposed to be Christ-like
Jesus rode from village to village preaching the word of God. For a fee.
He healed the sick and the lame. For a fee.
He fed the hungry. For a fee.
He clothed the poor. For a fee.
My point? Murican Christians know that Jesus was the second greatest conservative ever and he really should have been more like Reagan.
There have been 2 periods in the past 100 years in this country where Republicans have had majority in both house and senate while having a republican president: the first period was in the 1920's, preceding and leading directly into the Great Depression. The second period was 2006 to 2008, preceding and leading directly into the Great Recession.
This stat alone tells me that "Red State America" is better off in running the American Economy into the ground.
Another goofy GOP guy heard from. Can't they all just go away??
It is time for more than just a little rebellion.
"Not a problem. All of the food and energy that the blue states get from red states will go up 1000%. Don't like it? Walk or starve, makes no difference to us."
That's cute, and often the knee-jerk response from you folks, but have no doubt...you'll be begging us to buy the food at prices we deem fair in no time flat or you'll be starving yourselves. Try keeping the farmers farming when they have nobody to sell to...go ahead...try it.
polite centrist, these were acts of individual charity, not government mandated for the benefit of the political elite. Most Christians, and conservatives in general are very charitable, giving were they see fit. Those that the government wants to "help" are generally quite able to help themselves. So your argument for Jesus being liberal are bogus, idealogical fairy tales
Republicans are anything BUT small government:
– Vaginal ultrasounds
– Constant love of war (which requires a large military)
– Personhood Amendment
– Limiting access to contraceptions
– Tighter drug laws
Even when Romney was asked what he would cut – what did he say? Sesame Street!! Wasn't the size of the Pentagon. Wasn't the mass influx of anti-abortion bills. It was SESAME STREET!!!
The sad part for the US is the world is seeing who the crazies really are. They sit back and laugh at the US. Not because of their president but because of the wakos and the way they have been corrupted by money. This is a delusional country that still thinks it has the best healthcare in the world for it's citizens even though the facts show different. FACTS are the enemy of the US. It is bizarre how a group of nut jobs can destroy a nation. But I guess history shows it can be done. Just look at Germany, Italy, Japan, and now the Taliban. Any time you think your are morally and spiritually superior to others you loose in the long run.
Ever notice that the "small government" types want to shrink government just enough to fit in everyone's bedroom?
Well if it's a "battlefield of ideas" Rick Perry should go ahead and surrender because HE DOESN'T HAVE ANY!
Grit, guts, and successful policies – Texas is thriving – and he helped get it there. Can't be denied.
Wanna bet? Taking 17 Nillion in stim money to retroactively balance your budget is not the act of a man with grit and guts, its the act of a second-rate politician who has never worked a day in the private sector in his life. As for Texas thriving, how well do their students and young people compete on a national level at something other than sports? Over 27% of its population remains without health insurance, and you think that is thriving? In what reality is a host of WalMart-type jobs the definition of thriving?
"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"
You already received one. Even Penetta testified that it was physically impossible to do it. It's just not the answer you wanted to hear, so you're pretending you never got an answer in order to pretend that the issue is still unresolved.
Grit, guts, and successful policies – Texas is thriving – and he helped get it there. Can't be denied.
Wanna bet? Taking 17 billion in stim money to retroactively balance your budget is not the act of a man with grit and guts, its the act of a second-rate politician who has never worked a day in the private sector in his life. As for Texas thriving, how well do their students and young people compete on a national level at something other than sports? Over 27% of its population remains without health insurance, and you think that is thriving? In what reality is a host of WalMart-type jobs the definition of thriving? Only in the Right-wing world, where using Chile as a model for tax reform is considered a good thing.
Rick Perry and the rest of the "conservatives" are full of oxymorons (emphasis on MORONS). He says “It’s time for a little rebellion on the battlefield of ideas.” I thought conservatives' ideas were all laid out 2000 years ago during the time of Christ. Forming new ideas would make him a progressive thinker/liberal. And he says conservative governors are making progress in their states because of conservative principles. Conservatives like things they way they were, when kings and priests ruled the poor peasants. Making progress is another liberal idea that conservatives are (supposedly) sickened by.
..."Jesus was not a Liberal he was most likely a Libertarian. There is a HUGE difference!".
You mean Libertarians care only about themselves and their own rights and well being....
I just wonder... W W J D?
BTW, Cowboy Fonzie, wearing stylishly hipster Buddy Holly glasses does not fool anyone into believing you're smarter than you are...which is to say, able to form coherent thoughts instead of just vomiting pre-programmed talking points like a trained seal. Do they give you sardines backstage?
The GOP needs to dumb down their speeches so that serial liberals can understand how jobs are created...Until they do that and simply explain how liberals will have more jobs and opportunity, they will continue to vote for a lie that the Government will create jobs for them.
Please, Conservatives, wake up and realize these people act like the world is a comic book and they are the characters. BOP! SMACK! BAM! They are ridiculous. It would be laughable if no one actually voted for these cartoons.
The CPAC should be renamed the Circus PAC of retards!!! There is no way in hell will we the American people will be fooled and elect the "only talk" and "no action" Republican party to lead us again!!!! Where are the jobs? Where are the laws for minorities? Where are the laws/proposals for Women? What's your plan for Healthcare? Where's the alternative if you say you have one???? Where???? All talk and nothing else.....(the republican party of old white men conservatives is dying to a no return)