In part two of my coverage of CPACs first Midwestern conference event, we will see some of the high spots of the floor speeches of Indiana Senate Candidate Richard Mourdock, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie – always a crowd favorite – and the redoubtable Herman Cain. Cain also visited the media room and I have video of that below the fold.
Indiana Senate Candidate Richard Mourdock
Richard Mourdock is the current Indiana State treasurer but he also just defeated long-time incumbent Senator Richard Lugar for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate from Indiana. He’ll face the Democrat come November. Mourdock has been widely touted as the insurgent Tea Party candidate that beat Lugar, the old line, establishment man.
“No one expected a lowly state treasurer could take out a 36-year Senator! But we DID,” Mourdock said triumphantly.
Mourdock also noted that Senator Chuck Schumer of New York has called him the “Hoosier headache.” Mourdock was rather proud of that appellation.
Mourdock went on to talk about America’s place in the international stage and how endangered it is with Obama’s failed foreign policy.
“I believe American principles matter in THIS country,” he said. “But without the U.S. the world will become a more dangerous place.”
But Democrats weren’t the only ones Mourdock was troubled by. “In fact I’m more frustrated with Republicans than I am Democrats,” he said noting that too many Republicans talk a good game at home but go to Congress and just get along with the status quo.
Mourdock also warned that this election was vitally important. “We cannot let this great era of American exceptionalism fall due to our own inaction. We will get America back on course,” he said.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
Gov. Chris Christie wows ‘em
The speeches were all good, of course, but New Jersey Chris Christie proved once again that he can really impress a conservative audience with his New Jersey tough guy personae and good humor. When it comes to brass tacks, Christie is not a very solid conservative, of course, but on the things he strikes well — budget cutting and union slapping — he wows conservatives. They love him and these audiences always end up in the palm of his hand.
Christie began by telling the crowd of his adventures taking office as New Jersey’s Governor.
He said one of his early duties was to begin to fix the budget mess that his predecessors left him and in his first speech to his legislature he told them in essence, “You created this problem, you lied to the people, I just cut 2.2 billion, have a nice day.”
He joked ruefully about “New Jersey math,” noting that a “millionaire tax” hit people that make $400,000 a year and over.
“I found out we tax ‘millionaires’ starting at $400,000,” he said. “If you want to feel like a millionaire we’ll tax you like one!”
But because he wouldn’t back down and he took his role as a leader seriously he prevailed. “My legislature eventually passed my budget with 99% of my cuts. Leadership matters!”
But things were very bad when he started, especially with public unions. “Our teachers pension was $54 billion underfunded. Our public works pension was $69 bill underfunded. We had to change,” he said.
There are solutions, though, and they are solutions that every state can implement. Some of those solutions are, “raise retirement age, make employees pay more into and kick part timers off the plan.”
But his public employee unions were furious with him. In a speech before his state firefighters union, Christie said he laid out his ideas to a very hostile crowd. But, he said, he still can’t understand why they’d boo him.
“I told my public employees that they’ve been lied to by every governor Democrat and Republican, and they’ve been told they could get something for nothing.” Why would they boo the first governor that came before them and told them the truth, he wondered.
“You may boo me now,” he told us he said to them, ” but in 10 years when you still have a solvent pension you’ll be thanking me.”
But it is for the better, he said. “Because we did the right thing that is going to save New Jersey $130 billion”
Christie then recalled that when his plane landed at O’Hare and he deplaned, he found out that Obama was having a presser and was addressing the economy. Christie was floored when he heard the President say that the private sector was “doing just fine.” Christie was then incensed when Obama said that the reason the economy was flailing is because those mean old mayors and governors weren’t hiring more government workers!
“Obama says state hiring is going in the wrong direction? We are cutting public employees, that’s the right direction,” Christie bellowed.
But our side, he said, it the right way to think. “What is always the most powerful thing on our side is this: We’re right and they’re wrong,” he said to thunderous applause.
Christie went on to note that when he entered the governor’s office he promised to “turn Trenton upside down” by making the legislature look to cutting the budget and taxes. And he is doing it, too.
“New Jersey Democrats have raised taxes every 25 days for eight years,” he said to gasps from the crowd. But, “now the Democrats aren’t arguing if we cut taxes but how much we cut them! THAT is Trenton turned upside down.”
As to Illinois, the host state for this CPAC event. “I don’t know about Illinois (budget),” he said, then added “my condolences.”
He also joked that when he was the US District Attorney for New Jersey, “I thanked God that Illinois was more corrupt than New Jersey.”
“Now when they ask if New Jersey is the most taxed, I say, Oh no, there’s still Illinois and California.”
As he wound up his time on the dais, he pleaded with American to make this election “the beginning of the second American century, not the beginning of our decline.”
As Christie left the stage, the crowd leapt to its feet in applause.
Next up was Herman Cain. You know Herman, he’s the 999-pushing, former GOP candidate for President and he ain’t going away. In fact, along with his PAC and other activities, he announced that he is going to be taking over the talk radio duties of the retiring Neil Boortz, a nationally syndicated talk show host.
Cain is famous for his preacherly speaking style and today’s address was no different. He began by assuring us that all we have to do is “look inside” and we can “find a mission.”
“Many of those in Wash. DC think we are stupid, but we ain’t stupid,” he said. “The USA is broke. We’re not almost broke, we are broke.”
He went on to say that, “we need a revolution not of brawn and bullets but of brains and ballots,” to fix this mess.
But Cain warned against seeking “reform.”
“Reform,” Cain said “is code for we are going to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic.”
Cain had other ideas of how to address the problem in Washington. “We need to get rid of ‘reform’ and make it ‘replace.’ We need to REPLACE the EPA.”
Herman Cain had a litany of other federal offices and polices he wanted replaced, too, and that included replacing the outdated, failed tax code with his favorite idea, 999!
“No matter which party is in office,” he said, “we need to be that army of Davids.”
He added, “I believe that we the people are still in charge of this country. This movement of the citizens of this nation is growing and will become more powerful. We the people want our power back. Big government goliath is going down in Nov.”
Cain also had praise for Mitt Romney, who he has endorsed. “On a bad day a Romney as president is better than a president Obama on a good day,” he said. Cain also noted that he’s asked for nothing from Romney for that endorsement. He just wants Obama out.
Cain also showed up in our media room and here is that appearance.
Herman Cain in the media availability room
By the way, I know I spelled his name wrong at the beginning of that video, but I just don’t feel like doing it all over again. So, I’ll have to live with it.
CPAC Chicago Coverage