CPAC-12 GOP Presidential Candidates - Part 2
by Sonja Harris on February 22, 2012 at 8:39 AM
NEWT GINGRICH DREAM TEAM
Photograph introduced during his speech
Chuck Norris, JC Watts, Kellyanne Conway, Fred Thompson, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Michael Reagan and Linda Upmeyer
What an opportunity to go to DC and to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference on an election year, the most critical presidential election in my life time. Friday, February 10, would be different than the day before because there were security agents searching our bags as we entered the Marriott hotel. I knew that security was going to be tight because all the GOP presidential candidates were going to speak.
This race is ours to lose. Our three GOP presidential candidates would do a hundred times better than the present resident at the White House. The one crystal clear difference is that Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney all love America. Something I fail to see in Obama.
We must not let the mainstream media convince us that our candidates are so flawed that we cannot make a choice. Just look at Obama and this alone should shock you enough into voting for one of our great candidates. If we lose to Obama it is only because the MSM has led you to believe that our candidates are not ‘electable’. Who really decides this…we do!
The speeches the presidential candidates delivered to the CPAC-12 audiences tell us more than we might want to know about the candidate. Santorum’s message stays pretty close to his family values. His speech took the liberty of poking his opponents. Personally, this was the time to tell us about what he would do if he were elected president not to inform us about the mistakes his opponents have made.
Gingrich’s speech sent a very strong message to the established Republicans. He laid it all out and said that we should teach the established Republicans a lesson by voting him in. His address showed his anger directed at the establishment. Romney used the word conservative or a form of that word over 20 times. His emphasis or obsession of the word tells me he is a bit unsure of his conservatism.
Regardless these are courageous men willing to put themselves at the mercy of their detractors. Again, any one of these men would prove to be a better president that the one we presently have.
I was in the Marriott Ballroom when Rick Santorum spoke to the overflowing crowd of over 3,000. Every audience has a personality, quite, loud, rowdy, as in all crowds. The audience for Santorum was rather subdued even if the media tells it different. Santorum came on stage with his handsome family and introduced them. He presented Karen, his wife, as the rock in which he stands to his many supporters, and he continued with Sarah Maria, Patrick, Daniel, on his left side and Elizabeth, Peter, and John on his right side. He then mentioned his youngest child, Bella, who was not there, but reported that she was doing well.
What concerns me the most about this family is the lack of smiles. While on stage Karen and Sarah Maria were notably somber. There is also a certain amount of sadness in their eyes. It hurts to see this beautiful family appear to be so solemn. As I would say, what is wrong with this picture?
Santorum’s first statement, “Conservatism did not fail our country, Conservatives failed conservatism.” Conservatives are not just wings of the Republican Party we are the Republican Party, he asserted.
He conveyed to the crowd that this election is more than just about the economy but about our founding principles. He referenced the Declaration of Independence when saying that God gave us our rights, the government does not grant us our rights. The present administration wants us to depend on the government; this was Santorum’s strong message to the attendees.
He told the audience that Obama is forcing the Catholic Church to go against its teachings and that the fight is not about contraception but about economic liberty, Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion. It is about government control of our lives. The crowd burst into whistles and shouts of approval.
Towards the end of his speech, Santorum campaigned for his bid as the GOP nominee and told the audience that he was the one who can beat Obama because of his clear contrast. He mentioned his opponents’ incognito but we know he was referring to RomneyCare and Gingrich’s global warming affair.
I waited in line for hours it seemed, to enter the Meet and Greet for Santorum and Gingrich. Each candidate handled the situation differently. While still in the endless procession of supporters to see Santorum, I was surprised to see him coming down the line and shaking hands with all those who reached out for his hand. I took this photograph just before I shook hands with him. He was pleasant and smiling with his security guy following close behind him.
Santorum was encircled by secret service and security agents, and I just followed the entourage to the Media Room. He spoke to the media, answering questions while he was taped and a multitude of reporters wrote their stories.
Mitt Romney had already started his speech when I reentered the hotel from being outside. I had been busy photographing the Occupiers protesting CPAC-12. I will relay this experience in the last CPAC-12 Part 3. So instead of going into the overly crowded ballroom, I decided to photograph the activities in the main lobby and the mezzanine. There were large TV monitors every so many feet so that no one could possibly miss any of the speeches going on in the main ballroom.
Al Cardenas, chief of CPAC, introduced Romney to the audience waiting to hear him. I will say Romney’s crowd was a lively one. He thanked Obama for recruiting so many conservatives. History will record Obama’s presidency as the last gasp of Liberalism’s great failure if we do our job correctly, Romney said.
We must not depart from our founding principles. America does not just exist for the people; it has been made exceptional by the people. He spoke of Americans being a free people pursuing their own dreams and achieving success in their own ways. Obama is the poster child for the arrogance of government, he told the audience.
Romney mentioned his 42 year marriage to his wife Ann and their five sons. He had his grocery list of conservative issues that he fought for as Governor of the very Liberal state of Massachusetts. “I will defend DOMA”, he told the spectators who responded with loud applause.
He told the audience that he would offer bold and sweeping reforms. He would finally balance the American budget and eliminate ObamaCare…the applause was long and loud. “I am the only candidate for president who has offered a sweeping specific plan to save Medicare and to reform social security.” Obama will not lecture us on values as a man whose ineptitude in failure has brought us so much unnecessary pain, he said. Romney promised to have a Pro Life administration and on day one will reinstate the Mexico City Policy. He promised to cut off funding to the United Nation’s population fund which supports China’s barbaric one child policy. He will also reverse every single Obama regulation that attacks our religious liberty and threatens innocent life in this country.
Other than pointing out that he is the only candidate who is not part of DC, he did not attack any of the other GOP presidential candidates. It was a great speech. He touched on all the major conservative points. In fact, he mentioned the word conservative at least 20 times in his speech. I would say that he is really doing his part to make us understand that he will be a Conservative in the White House.
I believe we were all surprised that Ron Paul did not win the Straw Poll. Romney won, and I do believe that he did have his supporters at CPAC-12 but let’s face it, all candidates work toward this goal. Romney pulled it off. He won the Straw Poll with 38%, Santorum had 31% and Gingrich came in with 15%.
Callista Gingrich at CPAC-12
Callista did a fine job of introducing her husband. She is his shadow as she seems to be with Newt at so many campaign events. She shared some things about Newt saying that he is a golfer and loves books. “We have books in every corner of our home,” she said. I liked it when she said that Newt never gives up. She called Newt the next president of the United States right before he came on stage. I liked her positive attitude.
Gingrich immediately attacked the Republican establishment by saying, “For the establishment Republicans managing the decay is preferable to changing the trajectory because changing the trajectory requires real fights and requires a real willingness to roll up sleeves and actually take on the Left.” Gingrich did not hold back and said that the established Republicans do not have the toughness or the commitment to build a majority in this country. According to Gingrich that is why we did not win in 1996 and 2008.
The established Republicans are the America that ‘can’t’. This campaign is a moral threat to the Washington and the Wall Street establishments because we intend to change Washington and not accommodate it, he continued.
He offered his ‘Bold Solutions’ to the American people. If he were to be elected, he would repeal ObamaCare which will repeal Dodd Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley. We should repeal all three on January 20. Abolish all the White House czars, and sign an Executive Order for the pipeline to Houston. Also there would be Executive Orders to move the Embassy to Jerusalem, reinstate the Mexico City Policy, and to repeal every act of religious bigotry signed by Obama. He would end Ben Bernanke’s term and tell the truth about radical Islamists and the department of energy would be abolished.
He restated that this administration is waging war on religion and so are the courts. He asked the American people for help in his bid for the presidential nomination. If you believe in the Declaration of Independence, in the Constitution, and the Federalist Papers, then we want you to be with us.
I also waited in line to attend the Meet and Greet for Gingrich, but his campaign handled it very differently. I was told that only 100 persons were allowed to enter Gingrich’s Meet and Greet. His supporters surrounded him and Callista and they were whisked away into the elevator with his secret service agents and security detail. In this photograph you can see at least four security men with Callista and Newt in the back.
Let me emphasize that the attendance at CPAC-12 was estimated at 10,000. I don’t know about that, but for certain I do know that the Marriott Ballroom was filled to capacity and beyond, 3,152. This could be a dangerous situation for those sitting in the far end of the ballroom. The mezzanine was also over crowded with all the people waiting to get in the rooms to meet and greet Santorum and Gingrich.