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By Jerome Corsi and Garth Kant
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – With most speakers emphasizing economic, privacy and foreign policy issues in their speeches to the CPAC annual convention of conservatives this week, former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania U.S. senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum stood out, insisting Republicans must not give in to the temptation to soft-pedal fundamental social issues of concern to conservatives, such as marriage and abortion.
Huckabee warned of dire consequences if the nation forgets it owes its existence to God, and Santorum said he had been hearing a lot at the conference about the necessity of Republicans winning in 2014 and 2016.
“What that means,” he said, “is we have to lose a lot of our social concerns so a GOP candidate can win.”
“That may be a win for the GOP, but it will be devastating for the USA,” he said. “I’m not out here just to see Republican candidates win. I’m out here to see America win.”
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, urged conservatives to hold “accountability in high esteem” and be accountable not only to themselves and their family, but to God.
Earlier Friday at CPAC, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, in a rousing, animated speech, declared it’s “time for a little rebellion on the battlefield of ideas.”
Later, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., drew the conference’s most enthusiastic response to a potential presidential candidate, declaring, “I will not retreat an inch, and I will be heard.”
Anti-Obama filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza also unveiled a new trailer for his upcoming film, and in a panel, a leading attorney representing tea-party groups disclosed that IRS official Lois Lerner was interviewed by the Department of Justice
Also, a debate centered on the question of whether the former NSA contractor who leaked classified documents exposing U.S. surveillance on American citizens along with highly sensitive information crucial to the nation’s security, Edward Snowden, is a “hero” or a “cowardly traitor.”
Gov. Mike Huckabee: ‘I know there is a God’
Huckabee was the first major speaker at CPAC this week to emphasize God, the right to life, religious freedom and other issues important to social conservatives.
“I know there is a God and this nation would not exist if God were not the midwife of its birth,” he said. “If our nation forgets God, then God may forget the United States.”
Huckabee said he hopes the nation will “repent before we ever have to receive the fiery judgment of God.”
“There is no other way to explain our history than by reference to the hand of God,” he said. “It may not be politically correct, but in their hearts, Americans know it to be so.”
Centering on the theme “This I know,” Huckabee pointed to changes in the past five years under Obama.
He called the IRS a criminal enterprise that should be abolished and replaced with a fair tax.
“I know there is not one country, anywhere in the world that we have a better relationship with today than we had five years ago,” he said.
“I know that you cannot keep your doctor under Obamacare,” he said. “We can reform health insurance without forcing America to become a nation of part-time employment and forcing employers to keep their employee number to under 50.
“I know mothers and fathers can raise a child better than the government, and there’s something wrong when the government kidnaps children from their parents.
“I know four Americans were killed at Benghazi and with all due deference to Hillary Clinton, I know it does make a difference.
“I know the IRS is a criminal enterprise and the best way to get the IRS off our backs is to enact a fair tax and to get rid of the IRS altogether.
“I know life begins at conception and that a nation that kills its babies is no better than the Philistines.
“I know none of us are dispensable, and every life should be treated with dignity and respect.
“I know those who return to the USA wearing the uniform of the U.S. deserve to have the first concern be that they receive the medical treatment they need.
“I know a government that spies and lies to its people is taking us on a trajectory toward tyranny.
“I know the only time Putin shivers is when he has his shirt off in a Russian winter, but today we have disarmed ourselves and no one hears or respects us in the world. I know the land of Israel has been incredibly mistreated by this government.
“I know peace is not the result of a military that has been dismantled.
“I know the Second Amendment is the last recourse we have to defend our other freedoms.
Huckabee concluded: “When the government says it’s OK to have faith, but only so much faith, it’s time for government to scale back, not for people of faith to scale back.
Sen. Rick Santorum: ‘Here to see America win’
Santorum was received at the podium with a standing ovation.
He said he had been hearing a lot at the conference about the necessity of the GOP winning.
“What that means is we have to lose a lot of our social concerns so a GOP candidate can win,” he said. “That may be a win for the GOP, but it will be devastating for the USA.”
He said he’s “not out here just to see Republican candidates win.”
“I’m out here to see America win,” he declared.
He asked how it turned out for the GOP establishment to run moderate candidates in the last two presidential elections, referring to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts.
“You may recall I ran for president in 2012,” Santorum said to applause.
“I wanted to create a better America for the people who are struggling,” he said. “Millions of Americans are suffering because of the policies of the Obama administration.”
He asked why Republicans use the term “middle class,” which was crafted by liberals.
“Why should we adopt a class-envy leftist language that divides America against itself when we as conservatives and Republicans want all Americans to advance?” he asked.
He advocated using the term “working Americans,” because “we believe work is a good thing.”
“The left wants class division in America,” he said.
“Democrats are dividers. Republicans must be unifiers.”
He said that if all that unemployed people hear Republicans talk about is cutting taxes for high income people, the message won’t resonate.
That’s why, Santorum said, he called for cutting taxes for manufacturers, so that more jobs can be created.
“That’s a plan that connects with the folks who stayed home in the last election because they couldn’t vote for Obama, because they knew Obama’s policies were hurting them, but they couldn’t vote for us because they didn’t think we cared,” he said.
Santorum said Americans today feel nervous and fearful in uncertain times.
“Where Obama got the votes was from people who are most economically vulnerable – fear was what motivated these voters,” he pointed out.
“We are the party that has the policies that will work best for working Americans – we have the policies that will create economic growth and benefit American families,” he contended.
Santorum said American families “must be the focus of our policies.”
“When American families break down, the economy breaks down,” he said.
The former senator said he doesn’t want to talk about redefining marriage.
“I want to talk about how important maintaining families is to the American economy,” he said.
“The backbone of America involves those who value families and children,” he said. “America was strong because we had the backbone of families. But it is falling apart. Some 40 percent of children in America are born to families without dads.”
He proposed getting businesses to give marriage counseling as a benefit and have schools educate on the importance of marriage.
He said he understands why so many come to the CPAC stage and “bang away on Obama.”
It’s “fun” and also “easy,” he said, but that is not going to win over people at home.
“We can all take a lesson from Pope Francis, probably the most popular person in the world, because he’s going out and talking not about what his Christian faith is against, he’s talking about what his Christian faith supports,” Santorum said. “He talks about the ‘good news’ just like we should take a brush and paint our picture of what a ‘good America’ looks like so listeners say, ‘That’s me he’s talking about.’”
After leaving CPAC, he said, “we have a job to do.”
“We have to win,” he said, but winning will come “not by dividing, but by uniting.”
“So go out there and stand for the underemployed person working two jobs,” he said. “Stand with the unemployed. Stand with the working mom. Tell them what we are going to do for them.”
Republicans have an opportunity, he said, because “the Democrats are messing up the economy.”
“Let’s not blow it by just talking about them,” he urged. “Let’s talk about how we can build a great America.”
Sen. John Cornyn: ‘New age of accountability’
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, noted the house-raising speech by fellow Texan Gov. Rick Perry was a hard act to follow.
Cornyn, who won a primary challenge this week from Rep. Steve Stockman, called for a “new age of accountability,” urging conservatives to work to take back the Senate in 2014 and the White House in 2016.
“We hold accountability in high esteem – people who are accountable to themselves, to their families, and to God,” he said.
He said America celebrates accountability “not only because it is an inherently admirable trait but because our whole experiment in government depends upon it.”
“As public servants we must be accountable for our actions,” he said. “Lack of accountability has always been the refuge of tyrants, scandal-makers, and bad public policy.”
Cornyn charged that for five years the Obama administration has not been accountable.
He ticked off a list issues that included the “Fast and Furious” gun-running scandal, the Benghazi attack, the IRS targeting of conservatives and Obamacare.
Cornyn said the “status quo is not written in stone, and if the last five years has taught us anything about our liberal friends, it is that they don’t get accountability.”
Conservatives must lead, he said, “because we hold people accountable.”
“So, together let’s get to work supporting conservative candidates and bring back accountability to America.”
Thursday at CPAC, after Sen. Ted Cruz’s call to dismantle Barack Obama’s agenda, including a complete repeal of Obamacare, CPAC speakers touched on similar themes, envisioning 2014 as a prime opportunity to seize on Democrat failures and articulate an alternative vision for the country.
Cruz was followed by Sen. Mitch McConnell’s call to fight Obamacare with “everything we’ve got,” Rep. Paul Ryan’s belief that the GOP is primed for victory and the Democrats “will overreach,” Sen. Tim Scott’s call for “responsibility,” Sen. Marco Rubio’s conviction that the world is on the verge of a “new American century,” Sen. Mike Lee’s exhortation to conservatives to”get to work,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s call to mirror his state’s performance-based evaluations of teachers and Donald Trump’s urging to “make America great again.”
Meanwhile, Cruz told WND after his speech that social issues should not be taken off the table in the 2014, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton called Obama the nation’s “biggest security threat” and Chris Christie showed that despite major political setbacks in recent months, his star power has not dimmed.
WND’s coverage of CPAC:
- Rand Paul rocks CPAC
- Video: Anti-Obama filmmaker unloads on you-know-who again
- Tea party attorney: Feds interviewed IRS official
- Rick Perry: ‘Time for a little rebellion’
- CPAC speakers see GOP moment in 2014
- Mark Levin calls GOP elites the problem
- Former Obama agent warns president’s policies kill
- Cruz talks ‘social issues’ with WND
- Bolton: Obama ‘biggest security threat’
- Ted Cruz: ‘Liberty is under assault’
- Scandal hasn’t dimmed Christie’s star power