Entries in Conservative Political Action Conference (10)


Ted Cruz: ‘Count Me a Proud Wacko Bird’

Douglas Graham/Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said he’s willing to embrace the “wacko bird” label given to him by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., if it means he is defending the Constitution.

“If standing for liberty and standing for the Constitution makes you a wacko bird, then count me a proud wacko bird,” Cruz said as he delivered the keynote address Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md.

In an interview with the Huffington Post earlier this month, McCain singled out Cruz, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., as “wacko birds” when asked whether he felt they are a “positive force” within the Republican Party.

“They were elected, nobody believes that there was a corrupt election, anything else,” McCain said. “But I also think that when, you know, it’s always the wacko birds on right and left that get the media megaphone.

“I think it can be harmful if there is a belief among the American people that those people are reflective of the views of the majority of Republicans. They’re not,” he said.  McCain apologized for the remark Friday in an interview with Fox News.

As he closed out the three-day conservative convention, Cruz took pride in joining Paul’s 13-hour filibuster over the nomination of John Brennan to be director of the CIA, and without naming names, he criticized the senators who refrained from participating in the filibuster.

“There were more than a few senators who were not there with us that have had their manhood cheapened as a result,” Cruz said.

The filibuster marked Cruz’s first time speaking on the floor of the Senate, a moment to which Cruz said, “to my grave, I will owe Rand Paul a debt of gratitude.”

Even though the Republican Party experienced a loss in the presidential election last November, Cruz argued that it’s the conservative movement that’s heading towards success.

“For the last three weeks, conservatives have been winning, and we’re winning because of you,” Cruz said.

Cruz, who is in his first term as a senator, tied for seventh place in the CPAC straw poll with Dr. Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon, at 4 percent. Paul narrowly won the straw poll. Cruz’s keynote address occurred after straw poll balloting concluded.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Newt Gingrich on Obama: ‘We Know Who He Really Is’

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Newt Gingrich took the stage at CPAC Friday afternoon to a backdrop of two giant pictures of him standing in front of some of his more prominent supporters.

The photo, in a bluish-grayscale, was of Gingrich at the head of a flying-V formation staring into the camera. Behind him were eight people, including Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Fred Thompson -- and Chuck Norris.

That was probably appropriate. Gingrich’s speech was littered with quick one-two punches and roundhouse kicks aimed squarely at President Obama.

The conservative crowd in Washington cheered as Gingrich promised to “abolish White House czars.” They cheered again and again as he vowed to approve the Keystone pipeline, move the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, ban money for abortions overseas and repeal “40 percent” of everything Obama has done by the time the president lands in Chicago on the day Gingrich is inaugurated as president.

“Eliminate capital gains,” he said to roars. Eliminate the EPA, and change the FDA, he said to applause. “Abolish the death tax,” and bring gas down to $2 a gallon, he continued as the audience played along.

Gingrich saved his big guns for the end.

“We want to ensure that no president ever again bows to a Saudi king,” he commanded.

If Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke hasn’t left office by the time Gingrich takes over, “I will ask Congress to pass a law ending his term,” he said. That one actually got some laughs.

Finally, Gingrich promised, Obama will wage war on the Catholic church if he’s reelected. “We cannot trust him,” Gingrich said. “We know who he really is.”

Watch Gingrich's full speech:

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Pitches to the Right, and a Skeptic Listens

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Howard Moye sat in the last row with his arms crossed watching Mitt Romney tell conservatives why they should nominate him to challenge President Obama.

Romney spouted off line after line aimed at the crowd attending the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C.  He said that “we conservatives … cling to our Constitution,” that “if you’re not fiscally conservative, you’re bankrupt,” and that “my presidency will be a pro-life presidency.”

After each pitch, the audience in the voluminous ballroom at the Marriott in northwest Washington applauded, at times standing and cheering.

Moye just sat there, staring.

Romney has struggled throughout the GOP primary to sway conservatives, who have bounced around from candidate to candidate as they searched for an alternative. Newt Gingrich got a boost in popularity. So did Rick Santorum. Even Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain and Rick Perry enjoyed moments in which they were the conservative voters’ hero.

That voter is Moye, a longtime farmer from Greenville, N.C., who now runs a real estate business. He’s always voted for Republican candidates, he thinks the nation needs to be saved, and he’s not sure the president’s birth certificate is real.

At last year’s CPAC show, Moye was blown away by Bachmann. “That lady could be president,” he told his wife at the time. He donated $500 to her presidential campaign and supported her throughout the year, but after Bachmann dropped out in January. Moye then turned to Gingrich.

The South Carolina primary was good for Gingrich and Moye had hope. But the candidate lost his momentum in Florida and Moye had doubts. Now he thinks Santorum might be the best bet to be the party’s conservative choice.

There’s still hope for Romney. Moye is the type of voter that Romney needs to win over if he wants to wrap up the nomination sooner rather than later and unite the party behind him before the general election kicks into high gear.

“He said the right things today,” Moye said after Romney’s CPAC speech. “He needs to be talking plain.”

Moye is skeptical of Romney’s background as a “mega-millionaire” who looks like the “stereotype of what the president wants to run against.” He thinks that Romney is “trying to buy the presidency.” He says Romney isn’t being honest when he talks about his plan to fix entitlement programs, and he’s wary of his promises on taxes.

But after hearing Romney Friday, Moye said that if he were halfway toward supporting Romney, he’s two-thirds of the way there now.

Watching the candidate’s speech, Moye grunted and nodded as Romney said that “Barack Obama is the poster child for the arrogance of government.” He clapped three times when Romney said public workers’ benefits should be cut. And when the audience cheered as Romney said he’d end ObamaCare, Moye noted, “That’s what everybody wants.”

Conservative voters might look to Romney’s speech not necessarily as a reason to vote for him in the primary, but more of a reassurance that they could settle for him once he’s the official GOP nominee.

“This was good today,” Moye said.

Watch Romney’s full speech:

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


At CPAC, Humor Prevails Among Former Presidential Candidates

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- At the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., jokes were a common thread between the speeches of former GOP presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry.

Bachmann and Perry each received warm receptions at the conference, being held Thursday, Friday and Saturday in downtown D.C. Their speeches were short and addressed different policies of the Obama administration that they believe to be failures.

Perry’s speech focused on domestic issues, drawing heavily upon his identity as a “10th Amendment conservative,” a reference to the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which stipulates states have powers not specifically allocated to the federal government. Bachmann focused her speech on the Obama administration’s foreign policy, specifically its policy regarding Israel.

The two former presidential candidates overlapped in their respective introductions. Both Bachmann and Perry started off their remarks with jokes about their failed bids.

“Running for president of the United States is really one series of humiliations after another,” Bachmann told the crowd.

The Minnesota congresswoman went on to lay out the three lessons she’d learned on the trail -- where John Wayne was born, when Elvis Presley was born and to never forget the three things you’ve learned.

Rick Perry also embraced the idea that one must be able to joke about himself in his remarks.

“As many of you know, I had certain ideas about putting an end to this president’s failed administration, but the people of Iowa and New Hampshire had a different idea,” Perry said. "But back at Texas A&M, my alma mater, we had a very unique way of addressing defeat: Aggies never lose, we just run out of time. So you can say that my presidential campaign ran out of time.”

Neither candidate made reference to the current GOP field. Rick Perry has endorsed Newt Gingrich, but he did not mention the former House speaker while speaking to audience. Michele Bachmann has not endorsed a current candidate yet.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sarah Palin to Make Keynote Speech at CPAC

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sarah Palin will be the keynote speaker at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 11, after four years of consistently rejecting the top spot at the high-profile conservative conference in Washington, D.C.

“Few national conservative leaders in America today energize and inspire our grassroots activists like Governor Sarah Palin," American Conservative Union Chairman Al Cardenas said in a statement. "Her strong record of leadership, championing of our shared principles and magnetic personality have made Sarah Palin a hero to millions of conservatives across the country. As we ready for the critical 2012 election, I’m honored to welcome Governor Palin to the Conservative Political Action Conference for the first-time ever.”

GOP candidates Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum will attend this year’s convention, as will bestselling conservative author Ann Coulter, and Sens. Jim DeMint and Marco Rubio, among others.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Conservatives Push House GOP for Deeper Cuts in Spending

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As the Conservative Political Action Committee wrapped up its annual conference in Washington, D.C. this weekend, Tea Party Republicans had reason to celebrate after forcing House Republican leaders to make deeper cuts in their budget proposals.

Earlier in the week, House Republicans announced a plan to slash $35 billion from government spending this year. But more than 80 freshmen Republicans rebuked the leaders' first offer and called for deeper cuts. House GOP leaders listened to the voice emanating from the Tea Party and tripled the proposal.

"We're going to cut more than $100 billion in discretionary spending on this year's account," Speaker John Boehner said Thursday in remarks at the CPAC Conference.

"This whole movement is about the spending. That's what ignited the whole movement, the out-of-control spending," Tea Party Express chairwoman Amy Kremer said.

The Republican proposal would fund the government for the next seven months through the end of the fiscal year, but the proposed cuts are deeper and broader than some anticipated.

The proposed cuts will sweep across multiple agencies from the Environmental Protection Agency to funding for cities and states. Funds for clean drinking water will be slashed in half in addition to making steep cuts in food safety programs.

The Democratic controlled Senate and President Obama are not expected to go along with the proposals.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Haley Barbour Calls Obama Policies 'Reckless,' Bashes 'Leftish Media'

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who is laying the groundwork for a 2012 presidential campaign, spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday, and offered kind words for several of those who could be among his main rivals for the Republican presidential nomination if he -- and they -- ultimately decide to enter the race.

Barbour spoke quietly and slowly to a packed hotel ballroom, receiving a favorable reception by the audience, especially when he held up liberals and the media as bogeymen. He accused them of describing conservatives, “especially tea party activists as somehow out of the mainstream -- a bunch of unsophisticated know-nothings.”

“The leftish media says the Tea Party’s a problem for Republicans,” Barbour said, “Now, this is a case of the Left whistling past the graveyard.”

He called the policies of the Obama administration “reckless,” arguing that they have “brought America to a crossroads.”

“President Obama has tried to sound like Ronald Reagan for the last several weeks,” the governor said. “Reagan would recognize this ploy as just another play from the Democrat playbook:  Fake up the middle, then run around left end.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


No Clear GOP Front-Runner for 2012 Election At CPAC Conference

Photo Courtesy - Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- An energized crowd of conservative activists descended upon The Marriot Wardman Park Hotel in Northwest Washington, D.C. Thursday to listen to speeches by some of the most prominent names in Republican politics.  But, while they are united in their goal -- beat President Obama in 2012 -- there wasn’t much consensus on who they’d like to see as the Republican nominee.

Many are using this conference as an opportunity to vet some of the potential 2012 candidates.  “Part of the reason I came here,” said Mary Ann Davies of Pennsylvania, “was to hear some of the people who are potentially throwing their hat in the ring.”

A handful of those candidates, including former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and real estate mogul Donald Trump spoke on Thursday.  Speaking Friday will be former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, and businessman Herman Cain.

ABC News asked some CPAC participants to weigh in on what they thought of the current field of potential 2012 candidates, and got a wide variety of answers.

"I think the 2010 election showed that we are looking for new faces, new conservative faces.  I think some of the newly-elected governors like Chris Christie [N.J.] or fresh faces like Mitch Daniels [IN.] really get at that," said Sudipta Bandyopadhyay from New Jersey.

"We need a rock star to get the job done," said Edwin Taylor of South Carolina.  "We need another Ronald Reagan.  The closest person I’m seeing right now is Rick Santorum.  He’s young.  We need a young guy in there.  He’s conservative.  I think he’d go after the national debt and try and solve that immediately."

"[N.J. Gov.] Chris Christie.  He’s my number one choice," said Karen Ginell of Virginia.  "He represents the type of candidate we are looking for -- truth and honesty, doing what you say you will, being conservative and making the government smaller, decreasing cost."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Few CPAC Attendees Protest Sarah Palin's Absence

Photo Courtesy - Robyn Beck/AFP/ Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Thousands of the nation's most passionate conservatives have descended on Washington for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, including many potential 2012 GOP presidential nominees -- except former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Last week, Palin declined an invitation to address the conference citing a scheduling conflict, marking the fourth time in as many years that she skipped the annual conservative event.  But did conference-goers notice and do they care?  The answer, perhaps surprisingly, is not really.

"Where's Sarah Palin?  Probably on a reality show," said Brian Jencunas of New Jersey, shrugging his shoulders.  "Instead, we got Sarah Palin lite -- Michele Bachmann.  They've got the same hair, the same voice, the same issues."

"Sarah is in our hearts," opined Texan Nick Burt, 24, who was working the crowds in an Uncle Sam suit.  "Sarah is probably on TV.  I don't know, but I don't really care.  She's just a media personality to me."

Interviews with dozens of activists from across the U.S. revealed widespread admiration for Palin, but also pervasive doubt over whether she has presidential potential.

"I love Sarah," said Carol Cannon, 60, of Virginia who was attending her first CPAC conference.  "I think she's wonderful and a brilliant woman, but I can't see her as much as I would have a year ago or even six month ago being nominated for the presidency."

"Yes she's out in the media.  But can she win, as opposed to just grab some headlines?" asked Tom Burch, president of the Vietnam Veterans Foundation.  "I think it was a big mistake for her to miss this.  And the other candidates who seem to be running for president are here.  They know this is the time and place to be."

Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, Mitch Daniels, Haley Barbour, and John Thune -- all considered likely presidential hopefuls -- were scheduled to appear at the three-day conference.  Newt Gingrich spoke Thursday.

"I think that it's time for her to just kind of step back and let other people take the reins," said Kansan Lindsey Mock, 23, of Palin.  "I think she's doing a great job of promoting the Republican Party and the conservative movement where she's standing.  But I certainly don't think it's time for her to run for president at this time," she said. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Activists, Potential GOP Presidential Nominees Gather for CPAC

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Thousands of conservative activists will converge in Washington, D.C. for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday, hearing speeches from nearly a dozen potential contenders for the GOP presidential nomination.

The three day conference is the biggest conservative gathering of the year -- some 10,000 activists are expected to attend.  Former Massachussetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will headline the convention, along with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, South Dakota Sen. John Thune, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul and his son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will not attend CPAC, citing scheduling conflicts.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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