Walker, new faces delight GOP crowd

25 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Repeal every word': Potential GOP 2016 rivals hammer ObamaCare, IRS at Iowa summit.

DES MOINES — A crowded field of potential Republican presidential candidates scrapped for the hearts of the party’s conservative base here Saturday, implicitly rejecting the more moderate wing favoured by big donors and trying to fire up the kind of grassroots supporters who will play a critical role in the nominating process. DES MOINES, Iowa – Conservative heavyweights joined with up-and-comers in hammering President Obama Saturday over everything from the health care law to his immigration policies as they played to a sold-out Iowa crowd in what amounted to the opening bell of the Republican presidential campaign.

Donald Trump came out guns blazing at a high-profile GOP event in Iowa on Saturday — blasting possible presidential contenders Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush. The daylong forum, billed as an informal kickoff to the 2016 campaign, was attended by about 1,200 people, many of whom ardently oppose the centrist views that tend to prevail in a general election.

They spoke at the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines, held in the first-in-the-nation caucus state at a time when big-name Republicans are getting close to announcing whether they’ll seek the presidency. The former Alaska governor recently posed for a photo with Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer who held up a sign that read, “F— you Michael Moore.” Palin, chuckling, told the Iowa audience that “what the poster said is what the rest of us are thinking.” The sign was in response to a tweet in which Moore called snipers cowards: “My uncle killed by sniper in WW2. The speakers, some of them experienced presidential campaigners, came to test and tweak their messages, to seek second chances and to introduce themselves to voters whose passion for conservative causes makes them more likely to attend a caucus and launch a candidate out of a field of contenders.

We were taught snipers were cowards. “ Since then, Moore clarified his comments on his Facebook page and said his comment was in reference to snipers, but that he was not specifically commenting on the film “American Sniper.” Palin also took PETA to task for recent criticism against her for posting a picture of her son stepping on the family’s dog to reach the kitchen sink. Two likely candidates who did not attend, Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney, were criticised by several who did — mostly in veiled swipes, rather than by name — over the Common Core educational standards and immigration reform, which Bush in particular supports. They were given 20 minutes apiece to make their pitch to 1,200 of the state’s top conservative activists. “Your goal as a candidate is to show differences in style and substance without directly mentioning your opponents – especially since you don’t even know who they are,” said Tim Albrecht, an Iowa Republican consultant who has worked for Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Sarah Palin, too, after telling reporters she’s thinking about a 2016 run, laced her speech with snappy one-liners as she lit into the current president. Ted Cruz of Texas, a Tea Party hero, challenged attendees to demand that Republican leaders prove their conservative bona fides. “In a Republican primary, every candidate is going to say, ‘I’m the most conservative guy who ever lived,” he said. “You know what? Of Obama, she said: “America, he’s just not that into you.” The 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee also knocked the idea of a Hillary Clinton run. But former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was among the keynote speakers — and delivered a rambling speech that politicos declared perhaps her most incomprehensible attempt at oratory yet. “It is good that we have a deep bench and its primary competition that will surface the candidate who’s up to the task and unify and this person has to because knowing what the media will do throughout all of 2016 to all of us it’s going to take more than a village to beat Hillary,” Palin said, according to RawStory.com.

Talk is cheap.” Rising to his own challenge, Cruz called for “the locusts” of the Environmental Protection Agency to be stifled and for padlocking the Internal Revenue Service, then redeploying its agents to secure the Southern border. “If you said you opposed the president’s unconstitutional executive amnesty, show me where you stood up and fought,” he said of President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration. “If you said you oppose Common Core, show me where you stood up and fought.” But Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, the lone moderate to speak, cautioned against requiring a candidate to pass conservative litmus tests. “If that’s the standard we hold each other to, as a party we will never win another national election,” he said. “I am here today because our conservative values work not only in Iowa,’’ he said, emphasising that he had visited the state 11 times in the past five years. “I’m living proof that worked for me in New Jersey.’’ Gov. Texas Senator Ted Cruz quoted “Amazing Grace.” He announced he was once again “seriously considering” a run for president — but argued that Romney should not run a third time because “he choked” when he lost to President Obama in 2012. “It can’t be Mitt because Mitt ran and failed.

Scott Walker of Wisconsin gave an energetic speech, strolling the stage with his sleeves rolled up and flattering the audience like a practised caucus contender. He acknowledged a “woman in Waterloo” who had donated three times to his campaign and thanked Iowans for their prayers during “the dark days” when he and his family received threats in his showdown with public employees’ unions. Walker offered a preview of a national campaign built on his record of defying teachers’ unions, as well as tens of thousands of protesters. “The Occupy movement started in Madison, Wisconsin, four years ago and then went to Wall Street,” he said. “So my apologies for that.” A few candidates advanced a concern about income inequality that is percolating within the party, discussing wage stagnation, an issue that has largely belonged to Democrats. He said that any Republican coalition needed to include the “proud yet underserved and under-represented working class in this country.” Rick Santorum, the winner in the 2012 Iowa caucus, noted that for years Republicans had extolled entrepreneurs and business owners, adding it made more sense politically to “be the party of the worker.’’ Former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, who won the 2008 caucus here, stressed that the falling unemployment rate did not represent an economic recovery for many people. “A lot of people who used to have one good-paying job with benefits now have to work two jobs,’’ he said.

As speaker after speaker tossed juicy rhetorical titbits to an appreciative crowd, the gathering emphasised the challenges that the party’s less conservative candidates could face in right-leaning states with early caucuses and primaries, like Iowa and South Carolina. Steve King of Iowa, an avid opponent of an immigration overhaul. “We need to find a path to legalised status for those who have come here and have languished in the shadows,” Bush said. It included big names like Cruz and Christie, but also some rising stars, like Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon who has reinvented himself as an outspoken conservative and won an enthusiastic following in the process. Rick Perry of Texas, whose 2012 presidential campaign foundered in Iowa partly because opponents portrayed him as soft on illegal immigration, struck a more militant stance Saturday. We don’t have the will.” Carson suggested adopting a guest-worker program similar to the one Canada has and said anyone applying for guest-worker employment should do so while in another country.

But Democrats were quick to tie the Republicans here to King’s record of unvarnished comments about unauthorised immigrants, most recently his reference to a guest of the president’s at the State of the Union address as “deportable”. “These wannabe Republican leaders should be standing up to Steve King, not standing with him,” said Rep. Besides speaking at the event Walker, Santorum, Cruz, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and businesswoman Carly Fiorina held private meetings with activists.

With the Iowa caucuses scheduled to take place in 53 weeks, local Republicans are looking to back candidates who don’t just say the right things but also explain how they will fight for causes in office even if they aren’t popular, said Republican National Committeeman Steve Scheffler. “After Obama, Republicans here are listening to all this talking, but what they are looking for is who they believe can continue to lead the fight when they win,” Scheffler said. But Carly Fiorina, a former Silicon Valley chief executive who ran unsuccessfully for the US Senate in California in 2010, said: “Like Hillary Clinton, I too have travelled around the globe. Jim Gilmore told the crowd he was “ashamed” of that record and said the president should have gone to Paris to join the unity rally after the attacks in that city this month.

But unlike her, I actually accomplished something.’’ Donald Trump, who perennially floats himself as a presidential contender, took pointed digs at two absent Republicans — much to the crowd’s delight. King, in his opening remarks, called for abolishing the IRS and going after Obama’s “executive overreach,” while largely sidestepping the broader immigration issue.

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