The tension between the Tea Party and the established republicans couldn’t have been any clearer. Dozens of protesters staged a walkout during CPAC when Jeb Bush took the stage with Sean Hannity during his session Friday afternoon.
Bush, former governor of Florida and current 2016 GOP front runner is the only candidate with a nationwide fundraising effort. However, he lacks the support of most CPAC participants. Taking the stage, he looked to change some minds by reminding them that he was a conservative governor.
During CPAC on Thursday, rumors were flowing around the convention that Tea Party conservatives would lead a massive walkout during Bush’s appearance. Other rumors included Bush supporters being bussed in to pack the session and even ballot stuffing the straw poll. It seemed as though the walkout was going to happen as Hannity asked the audience how they felt about certain potential 2016 candidates. Bush’s name was greeted with a loud boo.
It was a twenty minute question and answer session, with Hannity serving as moderator. Bush used the interview to defend various controversial stances staining his name including Common Core and immigration reform. Bush, nonetheless, was energetic as the walkout and boos tried to overshadow his speech.
Calling himself a “practicing reform-minded conservative,” Bush started off by emphasizing the conservative legislation he pushed during his governorship. Known as “Veto Corleone,” Bush cited his rejection of many pieces of legislations to outline the way he governed Florida.
On the big issues such as illegal immigration, Bush stuck to his moderate position, stating the United States must show compassion and can’t self-deport. “The simple fact is there is no plan to deport 11 million people, we should give them a path to legal status where they work, where they don’t receive government benefits and where they make a contribution to our society,” Bush answered any lingering question on his stance, touting his government record that granted drivers licenses to illegal immigrants. As Congress was taking action on Department of Homeland Security funding just a few miles away from the conference, Bush commented that Congress should “take action to oppose President Obama’s executive actions to prevent some deportations” but opposed cutting off funds as a tactic for an opposition. “I’m not an expert on the ways of Washington, it makes no sense that we are not funding control of our border, which is the whole argument.”
Another issue plaguing Bush is his support for Common Core. Bush defended his position,“The federal government has no role in the creation of standards, the government should not dictate what is taught in schools, the role of the federal government if any is to create more school choice.”
The boos continued during the speech as Bush sought to make the best out the negativity. “To those who made a boo sound, I’m marking them down as neutral and I want to be your second choice.” However, the cheers tried to overshadow the boos as Bush supporters reminded the audience that his allies are around for support. Bush remarked on unity, calling for a broad republican tent stating, “If we share our enthusiasm and love for our country with our belief in our philosophy, we will be able to get Latinos and young people and others needed to win.”
After the session, one attendee said, “I think only the media was the only ones excited about Bush attending the conference than the general audience.”
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Day two at CPAC kicked off with an energetic speech delivered from Former Governor of Texas Rick Perry.
Enlightening the audience, Perry referenced a “three points” bulletin, an infamous debate that cemented during his 2012 presidential flame-out. His three points focused on the current administration’s lack of policies that makes “our allies doubt us and our enemies willing to test us.”
Wasting no time hitting the issue of immigration hard, Perry touted his experience as governorship of 14 years to stop undocumented immigrants from crossing the U.S.- Mexico border last year. Recalling last year’s conversation with the president during his visit to Dallas, he told the president “if you don’t secure this border, Texas will and that is exactly what we did.” During the Q&A session, Perry was asked about his plans for immigration reforms. The governor didn’t offer specifics of his plan but called for an “aviation assets” to monitor the border.
Perry also focused on unemployment as he warned the crowd not to trust the figures Washington is feeding us in regards to low unemployment numbers. “The unemployment rate is a sham, it leaves millions of American workers uncounted.” Adding that it’s up to the Republican party to “take a stand for all the people that aren’t being counted in the unemployment.” Offering a tint of solution, he added that the “answer is not to expand the welfare state, it’s to build the freedom state.”
Similar to other 2016 Republican presidential contenders speaking, Perry criticized Obama on the issue of foreign threats like ISIS. Stating the new threat of the “Islamic State growing in the Middle East represents the worst threat to freedom since communism.” Comparing Obama’s leadership to former President Jimmy Carter, Perry added, “We survived the Carter years so we will be saved by the Obama years too.”
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Sean Hannity, Conservative FOX News radio and television host, energized the audience before he spoke by tossing footballs into the crowd to the song, “This is How We Roll.”
Acknowledging the large presence of the millennials in attendance, Hannity expressed the disappointment in the rising national debt they will inherit thanks to the six years of Obama’s presidency. Stating:
We can do better. The American people are needlessly suffering because of the bad politics in Washington. Our generation leaves this country in worse shape than we found it.
Hannity focused on terrorism stating “he never thought America would be battling groups such as ISIS and Hezbollah.” Contrasting Obama to the King of Jordan, he had praise for one but criticism for the other. Praising Abdullah II, the king of Jordan for taking swift action against ISIS after the brutal murder of a Jordanian pilot, while Criticizing Obama for his insensitivity of the beheading of American journalist, James Foley.
With many contenders for president seeking his coveted endorsement, Hannity admitted he hasn’t made up his mind yet on who he supports. Sharing a quote from the movie Braveheart – “I see strength in you. Unite us.” Taking from that concept, Sean stated: “Conservatives and establishment Republicans need to unite.”
Hannity outlined the many areas both groups within the Republican party can agree on, such as energy independence, debt, school choice, and securing our borders for our safety.
He ended with advice on how to find the right candidate for president,
Dig deep and find a person who understands the destiny of the nation to stand as a beacon for the entire world.”
Governor Chris Christie joined the crowded field of potential Republican presidential candidates in the first day at CPAC 2015 at National Harbor, Maryland. Joining the stage this afternoon with Governor Christie, radio talk show host Laura Ingraham moderated the 20-minute question and answer session, the first at this year’s CPAC. Jeb Bush will be doing the same thing tomorrow afternoon, with Sean Hannity acting as moderator.
Beginning the session, Ingraham mentioned the bad press Governor Christie has gotten in the media the past few months. He brushed off the media critics, proclaiming, “I have The New York Times in my media gaggle every day and when you do things like I have done in New Jersey, they just want to kill ya, and that is what they are trying to do to me every day.”
Touting his record as governor throughout the session, Christie cited his efforts to get the state pension system back on track. He stressed that he takes a stand for conservative principles even as he “wakes up every morning with a Democratic legislature.” The governor, who is a social Conservative, mentioned his anti-abortion record. Christie was the first governor to speak at a pro-life rally on the steps of the capitol. He also vetoed Planned Parenthood funding from the budget over five times.
On Common Core, an issue Governor Christie once supported, he spoke of his “implementation regrets.” He now prefers a system designed by teachers and parents.
Ingraham again mentioned the media’s seeming dislike of the governor, citing several unfavorable descriptors including, “supermodel, explosive, short-tempered, hot-headed, and impatient.” Christie added the word “passion” to describe himself as he fights for the people of New Jersey. “If you really care about something, then you have to go all in. I care about fighting the fights worth fighting.”
The packed ballroom erupted with applause when Metallica’s Enter Sandman played. It was then Governor Christie recalled an incident where he told a reporter to ‘sit down and shut up’, “Yeah well, sometimes people need to be told to sit down and shut up.”
With 2016 looming, the governor dismissed the low polls in his home state as well as lagging presidential poll numbers. “Is the election next week?”, the governor responded as Ingraham questioned his place in the polls. Last year he was seen as a front runner, but this year he is near the bottom with even Dr. Ben Carson ahead. Governor Christie stated if he runs for president, he will “run a hard fighting campaign where I will fight for the taxpayers…In 2007, it was going to be Rudy Giuliani versus Hillary Clinton, so I feel good about 2016.”
NOTE: Story has been edited for content after publication.
WASHINGTON — Senator Mike Lee, (R-UT) started off the first day of CPAC addressing the conservative audience in the main ballroom stating that he is not running for President in 2016. He will be running for office in 2016, but only in Utah, seeking re-election for a second term as Senator. After much applause, Mike Lee asked a big question regarding the upcoming presidential election in 2016. Noting that over the past 6 presidential elections we haven’t elected a conservative since Ronald Reagan. His question then is,
“Are conservatives ready to pick the next president? “
Senator Lee then went on to explain how to identify a conservative candidate. A conservative candidate has specific policy ideas to reform our government. If you and the candidate disagree on an issue, they will not be afraid to tell you so. Lee warned Americans not to fall for platitudes, generalizations and abstracts from politicians seeking their vote. He then invited the audience and all of America to join him as he defined what that conservative candidate looks like. He proposed they will possess three qualifications: Principled, Positive and Proven.
“A principled candidate means being a conservative everyday, not just on the campaign.”
Being principled is something that you carry into every aspect of your life, and that is the first mark of a conservative candidate. Discussing what it means to be positive, Senator Lee said it means telling us more than what you are against, but what you are for. He then shared this concept by using the analogy of a soldier going into battle.
“A soldier doesn’t fight because of what he hates in front of him, his enemy, but because of what he loves behind him.”
The last quality conservatives need to demand from their candidate is that he or she be proven. Proven means 2 things;
Someone who has proven himself by winning big fights on election day. Someone who has proven himself after election day, while in office. Conservatives must demand both. Show he can win elections, and later show that he deserved to win those elections. He must show he will battle against entrenched interest, not just of the other party, but within his own. The conservative candidate who ignores moderates is as misguided as the moderate that ignores conservatives. The candidate we are looking for can attract both.
His comments were met with approval as evidenced by the crowd’s applause. After outlining the resume of what conservatives need to look for if they want to elect the next president of the United States of America, Senator Lee turned the onus onto the citizens of our country.
“Principled, positive and proven isn’t just up to the candidates themselves. It’s up to us as well.”
In his closing thoughts Senator Lee provided more insights for voters to reflect on.
Republican candidates are only going to be as good as conservatives demand them to be in 2015. Let’s demand that these candidates will be extraordinary. Not one candidate will be anything short of that. Imagine if no one donated a dime of their money to those who talk a big game, about limiting big government, but never gets around to talking about how he would fix broken government.
Principled. Positive. Proven.
“That’s the candidate and campaign people are waiting for and the one conservatives can produce, if and only if we stay true to our own high ideals. I’m here to ask for your help to find him!”
– Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)
NOTE: Story has been edited for content after publication.