With the 2012 presidential election almost a year away, GOP hopefuls are attending the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) to listen to high profile politicians and discuss the conservative movement.
Earlier, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), founder of the U.S. House Tea Party Caucus, delivered the opening address in which she celebrated Republican gains in 2010 and rallied the audience with the prospect of winning back the White House and Senate in 2012. Rep. Bachmann also referred to the nation's debt and a call to repeal the health care legislation.
Then, Senate Minority Leader McConnell (R-KY) addressed attendees, calling on conservatives to stay devoted to their principles. He talked about legislative issues facing the Senate, saying he would continue to fight health care legislation. He went on to say that he believes the proposed campaign finance legislation is unconstitutional and used the example of the recent Supreme Court case of “Citizens United” as evidence supporting changes that scale back rules governing campaign donations.
Following Sen. McConnell’s remarks was former Speaker Newt Gingrich, who laid out seven steps that President Obama can take to move to the political center and criticized Time magazine's recent cover story comparing Presidents Obama and Reagan, saying “President Obama is no Ronald Reagan.”
In the afternoon session, Donald Trump didn’t directly answer rumors on his possible run for the Republican presidential nomination, simply saying that if he runs for the White House -- and wins – then "America will be respected again" and vowed to take money back from countries that “are screwing us.”
Towards the end of his remarks he spoke out against Rep. Ron Paul, saying that though he was a nice guy there was no way he could become president.
The representative’s son, Sen. Rand Paul, was the next speaker after Trump, while House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) closed today’s afternoon session.
This evening Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) addressed attendees during the evening banquet. The Congressman received the John Ashbrook Award, named after the late Ohio Republican Congressman who served in the U.S. House for 21 years and was one of the founders & chairmen of the American Conservative Union.