It was quite the opening day at CPAC 2014!
Senator Ted Cruz outlined a jam-packed plan with red meat and energized the audience. He was the right man to start the day and the event… one half of the bookends to be completed by Sarah Palin on Saturday.
Rep. Paul Ryan - The 2012 Republican Vice Presidential nominee focused on the work Republicans in Congress are doing to advance a "modern, pro-growth, principled" conservative agenda on behalf of the American people. He said he welcomed intra-party disagreements, casting them as "creative tension" rather than media-fueled "civil war."
Ambassador John Bolton - He's not necessarily a presidential A-lister, but he's openly discussing throwing his hat into the ring. He lambasted the Obama administration's handling of international events, especially his Libya policy, which Bolton called "the paradigm" of Obama's failings.
Governor Chris Christie - The New Jersey Governor was greeted with a generous, but not raucous, standing ovation by the audience. Christie focused on his conservative credentials and what Republicans of all stripes had in common. He discussed Beltway dysfunction while heralding the conservative achievements of Republican governors around the country (he's RGA chairman), and ripped Democrats' misplaced obsession with income inequality. Christie said, "We don't get to govern if we don't win"
Video: CPAC 2014 - Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA)
Governor Bobby Jindal, Louisiana's chief executive primarily focused his remarks on the important issues of education reform and religious freedom, peppering his address with a number of anti-Obama zingers that for some reason fell somewhat flat in the room. Jindal is a keen intellect and a strong manager, but not necessarily a crowd pleaser. He is, however, long on substance’
Senator Marco Rubio - On the heels of a well-received and impassioned floor speech on Cuba and Venezuela last week, Rubio was on his game a truly excellent message. He attacked 'big government' economics, scolding Democrats for intentionally dividing America. He also built a strong case for a strong America in the international arena. He closed with a touching tribute to his father and the American dream, recalling his dad's last days. Although some conservatives will never forgive him for his 'Gang of Eight' participation (immigration went unmentioned in his comments), Rubio showed on Thursday why he is a force to be reckoned with.
Beyond the possible 2016 candidates, three other GOP Senators also delivered memorable speeches: Mike Lee of Utah spoke about the positive, proactive agenda he's seeking to help build within the party -- admonishing conservatives to stop talking about Ronald Reagan, and start acting like him.
Tim Scott of South Carolina spoke compellingly about his journey from being a failing high school freshman to a United States Senator.
Donald Trump gave a brutally honest speech from a businessman’s perspective as did the NRA’s Wayne La Pierre!
Trump gave perhaps the line of the day when he said (paraphrased): “Immigration… We either are a country, or we are not. We either have borders or we don’t!” He also warned Republicans to wake up… that none of the 11… perhaps 30 million people who could receive amnesty will vote Republican… at least not for a long time.
LaPierre challenged freedom-loving patriots to join the fight to reclaim our nation and restore our core American values. “We will not go quietly into the night. We will fight…”
9:00 a.m. Texas Gov. Rick Perry
9:16 a.m. Texas Sen. John Cornyn
10:23 a.m. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee
11:15 a.m. Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition
2:26 p.m. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum
2:40 p.m. Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union
2:51 p.m. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul
12:45 p.m. Newt Gingrich, former House Speaker
1:12 p.m. Jim DeMint, president of the Heritage Foundation
5:23 p.m. Straw poll
5:45 pm. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin
For a full schedule, see the CPAC website. C-SPAN will also carry live coverage of the events.