FULL TEXT: ACU Chairman Al Cardenas Kicks off CPAC 2012
Opening Address Highlights Conference’s ‘We Still Hold These Truths’ Theme
WASHINGTON, DC – American Conservative Union Chairman Al Cardenas this morning officially kicked off CPAC 2012 – the 39th annual Conservative Political Action Conference – with an opening address highlighting the conference’s theme, “We Still Hold These Truths.”
The following is the full text of Chairman Cardenas’ remarks, as prepared for delivery:
“My fellow conservatives, on behalf of the American Conservative Union and our entire Board of Directors, welcome to CPAC 2012, our 39th annual Conservative Political Action Conference!
“Thanks to every one of the thousands of you for joining us here in our Nation’s great Capital. We have three tremendous, action-packed, blockbuster days in store for you!
“This great annual tradition is an opportunity for the conservative movement to set our agenda for the coming year, hear from our most influential leaders and unite and energize an army of patriotic, committed conservatives in the pursuit of a return to American Exceptionalism.
“This conference formally begins our journey to a hard fought victory for our values in November!
“For the past year, the American Conservative Union has been hard at work building on the enthusiasm sparked at last year’s CPAC.
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- “We hosted our first regional CPAC ever – heading to my home state of Florida – where we welcomed more than 3,500 Sunshine State conservatives, nine presidential candidates and conservative leaders like Marco Rubio and Allen West.
- “We presented the 40th edition of our gold-standard ACU Ratings of Congress, honoring the greatest conservatives in both chambers and exposing the liberals.
- “We expanded these ratings for the very first time to State Legislatures – grading state legislators in Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia, on key conservative issues like tax cuts, school choice and immigration.
- “We stood with the leadership in the House of Representatives in opposition to President Obama’s radical liberal agenda and his assault on our values. We stood alongside our conservative allies in fighting for our traditional values and fiscal sanity, and ardently fought against an apologist foreign policy.
“Now, 2012 is shaping up to be ACU’s best year yet:
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- “Tomorrow, we’ll announce the locations of the three regional CPACs the American Conservative Union will co-host in 2012.
- “In advance of Congressional primary season kicking off, we’ll release our next edition of ACU Ratings of Congress later this month.
- “We’ll also expand our new State Legislative Ratings program to a total of 15 states in 2012, adding California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to our lineup.
- “We’re growing our political footprint too. This week, we launched a new campaign to help achieve a true conservative Congress for the American people. ACU is now up with radio ads across the nation in support of members who stayed true to their conservative campaign promises.
- “We’re also introducing our new “Card-Carrying Conservative” Program this week and invite you to join the hundreds of thousands of ACU Card-Carrying Conservatives across the nation by enrolling in our membership program.
“As we ready for the critical 2012 election, this may be the most significant CPAC of our time.
You and I are here for the same reasons:
“To reclaim our freedom and our children’s freedom from a corrupt and oppressive Administration that admires socialism, apologizes for America, and fears and disparages the ideas and values that make this the greatest nation on earth.
“For the same reasons the candidates you will meet and hear from this week are running for office.
For the same reasons millions of Americans are engaging in the political process – many for the first time – whether it be working for a presidential candidate, joining a local Tea Party rally, attending a Congressional town hall or helping mobilize other grassroots activists in support of conservative causes.
“Fortunately, we have the opportunity to steer America back in the right direction, and it begins right now, right here, at CPAC 2012.
“Our urgency is real because our nation is at a crisis point.
“The left is leveraging all of their resources to cater to the growing class of takers at the expense of this generation’s middle class:
- “They have added millions of Americans to food stamp programs.
- “They have added millions more to Medicaid.
- “On one website alone, we now have 1231 available federal giveaway programs.
“And, how are they paying for this?
“Not just with your money or mine. It’s with our children’s and grandchildren’s money. And, the trillions upon trillions our country is borrowing are from countries like China, often in conflict with our best interests.
“Now, with America’s credit rating downgraded for the first time, investors deterred by our debt will not invest in our future – at least as long as this President remains in office.
“This out-of-control government spending and nanny-state mentality is destroying entrepreneurship, innovation and free markets. Under President Obama, the federal government has grown in size and power, crushing businesses large and small.
“A quick review of the President’s accomplishments is telling. He can claim:
- “An arbitrary energy policy aimed at subsidizing cars that no one wants to buy while preventing domestic oil production and the sensible transit of energy resources through the Keystone Pipeline.
- “Complete abdication of his responsibility to enforce federal immigration laws.
- “Incessant yielding to union boss cronies through the constant rebuke of the private sector.
- “And, continued funding of liberal non-profits like Planned Parenthood – now just government subsidized vehicles for the radical left social agenda.
“Yet the President still claims to fight for the middle class and for what most Americans want.
“Look no farther than the latest U.S. census results. The best barometer of where Americans want to live shows that millions of Americans are fleeing the communities that support President Obama’s agenda. They are fleeing high taxes, big government and union influence for comparative beacons of freedom like Texas and Florida.
“Shockingly, the duplicity of the Obama Administration reaches even deeper.
“On his first day in power, Barack Obama gave a public promise. He would rule from the American touchstone of respect for the law. He pledged to be a trustworthy American public servant, a public steward who answers to the people.
“His shameful record of abusing power is the opposite.
“The appointment of unaccountable czars, the unconstitutional appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and of Richard Cordray to the so-called ‘Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’ have shown supreme arrogance from a president who doesn’t believe the rule of law applies to him.
President Obama and his administration have embraced crony capitalism whether it’s giving $535 million in loans to his donor cronies at Solyndra. Or his Justice Department’s shakedown of Bank of America, forcing them to give ‘excess funds’ in a $335 million settlement to his oldest political patrons, the community-organizer groups exemplified by the disgraced ACORN.
“There’s Operation Fast and Furious where the DOJ sold 2,000 firearms to suspected cross-border gun traffickers. The ultimate buyers were Mexican drug lords. Team Obama didn’t track the buyers, most of the guns are missing. Two of them were used in the killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent. Mexican civilians have died in city after city, at the hands of criminals wielding these guns.
I challenge the President to tell us why Eric Holder retains his confidence as Attorney General. This is your scandal, Mr. President. You are in charge.
“These aren’t isolated cases. It is patterned behavior, and the list of President Obama’s abuse of power is growing.
“The left wants to change America into something unrecognizable.
“President Obama and former Speaker Pelosi’s support for Occupy Wall Street extremism says all we need to know about who they believe we are as a country.
“They want an America where a degraded brigade of self-named “Occupiers” is given special recognition, above those whose taxes support most of these work-averse complainers.
“The words on the signs of the occupiers are not of faith, family, patriotism or honor. They are about resentment and forced wealth redistribution from one “class” to … another class – themselves.
“They seek to replace achievement, hard work and freedom with spreading the wealth, rewarding the unaccomplished and creating a dependent class. They want a world where there is no 1 percent or 2 percent or 50 percent or 99 percent. But an indistinguishable class of people who are 100 percent dependent on the federal government.
“Is this our new social fabric? Are we witnessing the America of tomorrow under President Obama’s leadership for the next four years if we fail to unite in opposition?
“Make no mistake. The only key to putting our nation back on a path to prosperity is making Barack Obama a one-term President.
“Regardless of which one of our fine Republican candidates is victorious in the primary process, we must come together – and I believe we will come together – to replace President Obama with a conservative commander-in-chief.
“This week at CPAC, the American Conservative Union is honored to host former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and Senator Rand Paul, a powerful surrogate for his father Congressman Ron Paul.
This has been a spirited and unpredictable primary campaign to date, and like you, I look forward to hearing more from these four men on their visions for the future of our great country.
“2012 is not only our chance to take back the White House, but our chance to take back the United States Senate.
“There are 23 Democrat seats up in 2012, including 7 open Democrat seats. It’s time Democrats in the Senate are held accountable for rubberstamping the Obama agenda.
“Thankfully, the House of Republicans stands as a massive roadblock between President Obama and the realization of his tax-laden agenda. In 2012 we must retain the House and work to grow our majority there.
“We must also continue electing conservative governors and develop a strong farm system of talented leaders in our state legislatures across the country. The brightest, most encouraging examples of conservative leadership right now reside in our state Capitols.
“You’ll hear from a few of them first hand this week as CPAC welcomes Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Texas Governor Rick Perry, Florida Governor Rick Scott and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to our stage.
“Upon our success up and down the ballot in November, the first 100 days of 2013 hold the potential to ebb four years of atrocious domestic and foreign policy.
“With a conservative Congress and President:
- “We will cut spending, cut up the government’s credit card and balance the budget.
- “We WILL repeal ObamaCare.
- “We’ll stop new job-killing regulations from going into effect and unleash the power of the free market to create jobs and foster opportunity and prosperity.
- “We will responsibly reform entitlement programs so that future generations our not sunk by ever accruing debt.
- “We will end the Obama-era cuts to missile defense and restore our relationship with Israel.
- “And, we will reverse the progressive social agenda threatening our families and unborn children.
“This Election is a chance to restore the social fabric of our nation – a return to American Exceptionalism.
“This is a major decision for everyone of every socioeconomic background to make, because the rich, poor and middle class can all agree we must have a strong country. And, our conservative values are the only values that give the less fortunate in our society hope and opportunity to free themselves from the shackles of lifelong dependency on government.
“For our great nation to remain a beacon of hope, freedom and opportunity in today’s precarious world order, we must return to the tenets established by our Founding Fathers. We must prove that ‘We Still Hold These Truths’ – the theme of this year’s conference…the principles set forth by our founding fathers 235 years earlier…
- “Constitutionally limited government;
- “Individual liberty;
- “Free markets;
- “A strong national defense;
- “And, traditional values.
“…. are just as important now as they were then.
“We are conservatives.
“We believe in the values that were broadly shared by Americans for 200 years, and are shared today … a nation where people are big, and governments are small … clear fences around government powers … self reliance and the pride of earning your own way, and providing for a family … trusting the proven values of faith and family and freedom. Equal opportunity and the common sense knowledge that government-provided equality is the spirit-dulling equality of shared misery and dependence.
“The choice in November must be the America of opportunity for all. As we know, President Obama has a weakness for likening himself to leaders held in great regard. Lincoln has been a target of this self-flattery by Obama and his followers.
“Here is how Lincoln stated the dream that drew millions to America. ‘That some should be rich shows that others may become rich, and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprise. Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another; but let him labor diligently and build one for himself…’
“Obama was given four years, and has spent his time trying to pull down the American house, on a now undisguised appeal for class warfare and a European style program of redistribution.
“Let us rebuild the American house of freedom and opportunity for all. This may our last best chance.
“Thank you again for joining us at CPAC 2012. It has been my great honor as ACU Chairman to kick off our festivities this morning.
“And now, it is also my great honor to introduce a friend of mine and a leader of the American conservative movement.
“One of the most courageous members of Congress, this gentleman has held his Republican colleagues’ feet to the fire on the toughest issues of our time; tirelessly fought for the cause of freedom at home and abroad; and unapologetically stood by the traditional values shared by our nation’s founding fathers.
“He is the ultimate conservative warrior.
“Please help me welcome Senator Jim DeMint back to CPAC!”
The American Conservative Union is America’s oldest and largest grassroots conservative organization and was founded in 1964. The ACU has hosted CPAC in the Nation’s Capital since 1973. To watch CPAC 2012 online, please visit www.cpac.org.