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GOP pushes social issues at conservative showcase

  • Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. moves a stuffed animal out of the way as he signs copies of his book at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md., Friday, March 7, 2014. Friday marks the second day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which brings together prospective presidential candidates, conservative opinion leaders and tea party activists from coast to coast. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

    Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. moves a stuffed animal out of the way as he signs copies of his book at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md., Friday, March 7, 2014. Friday marks the second day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which brings together prospective presidential candidates, conservative opinion leaders and tea party activists from coast to coast. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md., Friday, March 7, 2014. Friday marks the second day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which brings together prospective presidential candidates, conservative opinion leaders and tea party activists from coast to coast. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md., Friday, March 7, 2014. Friday marks the second day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which brings together prospective presidential candidates, conservative opinion leaders and tea party activists from coast to coast. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

  • Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md., Friday, March 7, 2014. Friday marks the second day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which brings together prospective presidential candidates, conservative opinion leaders and tea party activists from coast to coast. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

    Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md., Friday, March 7, 2014. Friday marks the second day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which brings together prospective presidential candidates, conservative opinion leaders and tea party activists from coast to coast. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

  • Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, March 6, 2014. Thursday marks the first day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which brings together prospective presidential candidates, conservative opinion leaders and tea party activists from coast to coast. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

    Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, March 6, 2014. Thursday marks the first day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which brings together prospective presidential candidates, conservative opinion leaders and tea party activists from coast to coast. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

  • Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md., Friday, March 7, 2014. Friday marks the second day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which brings together prospective presidential candidates, conservative opinion leaders and tea party activists from coast to coast. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

    Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md., Friday, March 7, 2014. Friday marks the second day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which brings together prospective presidential candidates, conservative opinion leaders and tea party activists from coast to coast. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

  • FILE - In this Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, file photo, Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks speaks to the media and members of the public from a balcony at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Assange (over live video) will make an appearance this year at the South By Southwest Interactive Festival, illustrating how the festival is trying to balance holding on to its independent roots even as it’s flooded by a barrage of corporate sponsors and threatens to grow too big for its hometown. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

    FILE - In this Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, file photo, Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks speaks to the media and members of the public from a balcony at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Assange (over live video) will make an appearance this year at the South By Southwest Interactive Festival, illustrating how the festival is trying to balance holding on to its independent roots even as it’s flooded by a barrage of corporate sponsors and threatens to grow too big for its hometown. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

  • Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. moves a stuffed animal out of the way as he signs copies of his book at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md., Friday, March 7, 2014. Friday marks the second day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which brings together prospective presidential candidates, conservative opinion leaders and tea party activists from coast to coast. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md., Friday, March 7, 2014. Friday marks the second day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which brings together prospective presidential candidates, conservative opinion leaders and tea party activists from coast to coast. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
  • Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md., Friday, March 7, 2014. Friday marks the second day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which brings together prospective presidential candidates, conservative opinion leaders and tea party activists from coast to coast. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
  • Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, March 6, 2014. Thursday marks the first day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which brings together prospective presidential candidates, conservative opinion leaders and tea party activists from coast to coast. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
  • Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md., Friday, March 7, 2014. Friday marks the second day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which brings together prospective presidential candidates, conservative opinion leaders and tea party activists from coast to coast. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
  • FILE - In this Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, file photo, Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks speaks to the media and members of the public from a balcony at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Assange (over live video) will make an appearance this year at the South By Southwest Interactive Festival, illustrating how the festival is trying to balance holding on to its independent roots even as it’s flooded by a barrage of corporate sponsors and threatens to grow too big for its hometown. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

Some of the GOP’s most prominent conservatives insisted yesterday that Republicans should emphasize hot-button social issues like abortion and gay marriage in this year’s midterm elections, exposing an ideological divide within a party trying to capture the Senate and then the White House.

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, a Southern Baptist pastor, set the tone early in the second day of the Conservative Political Action Conference.

“If this nation forgets our God, then God will have every right to forget us,” Huckabee said to cheers. “It’s time for government to scale back, not for people of faith to scale back.”

The day also featured Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, who, like Huckabee, have run presidential campaigns fueled in part by support from religious voters.

But Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, one of the final speakers of the day, represents a new generation of libertarian-minded Republicans less likely to oppose gay marriage or embrace laws allowing the government to affect people’s private lives.

“There’s a great battle going on. It’s for the heart and soul of America,” Paul told a swelling crowd, focusing on civil liberties instead of social issues.

“You may think I’m talking about electing Republicans. I’m not,” he said. “I’m talking about electing lovers of liberty.”

The ideological tug-of-war played out a few miles from Washington, D.C., at the nation’s largest annual gathering of conservative activists, where most of the prospective 2016 Republican presidential field will have taken the stage by the end of the three-day gathering today.

It was an early presidential audition for a party optimistic about its chances in the November congressional elections and eager to snap its two-election mini-losing streak in presidential contests. National Republican leaders are working to expand the GOP’s appeal following a disappointing 2012 election season.

The political debate over abortion shows no signs of being resolved. Young people today are somewhat more conservative on the issue than middle-aged Americans, but the nation is split on the deeply personal issue.

The politics of gay marriage are different. A growing number of high-profile Republicans – including Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and former vice president Dick Cheney – have announced personal support for same-sex unions, despite a national party platform that does not. And a series of recent court rulings have found state laws that outlaw the practice may be unconstitutional.

Polls suggest that young people solidly support gay marriage, while opposition is strongest among the oldest Americans.

Last week, Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a bill adopted by the state’s GOP-led Legislature that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to gays.

The 2012 elections illustrated the risks for Republican candidates who focus on social issues.

Republican Missouri Senate candidate Todd Aiken said pregnancies in cases of “legitimate rape” are rare. In Indiana, Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock said “even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

Both candidates lost, hurting the GOP’s most recent drive for the Senate majority.

Santorum insisted that Republicans not abandon conservative values.

“We’re told we have to put aside what we believe is in the best interests of the country so a Republican candidate can win,” Santorum said. But victory on those terms would be “a devastating loss for America,” he said.

Perry avoided social issues in his remarks, instead criticizing Democratic governors for leading states with higher taxes, more regulations and fewer jobs. He also suggested that Washington politicians in both parties have seized too much power and it’s time to elect “the right kind of leaders.”

Still, the day’s speaking program was dominated by social conservatives, such as former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed, who offered little tolerance for Republicans who “lack the courage to stand and fight” against gay marriage and abortion rights.

“I have a message for these profiles in cowardice who often display the backbone of a chocolate eclair and cave the minute they’re criticized,” Reed said. “We’re not going to follow lukewarm so-called leaders any more whose god is their ambition, whose idol is power.”

It was a different story in the crowded hallways outside the main ballroom, where a younger generation of libertarian-minded Republicans said the GOP should focus on the economy and avoid the culture wars of the past.

“The social issues should be kept to the states, and even at the state level it shouldn’t be a big focus,” said Kyle Brooks, an 18-year-old student at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and secretary of College Republicans there.

Paul was a favorite of such voters, many of whom had backed his father, former Rep. Ron Paul, a libertarian.

“I don’t think the government should be involved in dictating how we live our lives,” said Chris Anders, the 42-year-old West Virginia state coordinator for Campaign for Liberty, a political group formed from the ashes of Ron Paul’s past presidential campaigns.

Across the river in Washington, Democrats were paying close attention.

Democratic National Committee spokesman Michael Czin said that “conservatives are doubling down on the same divisive social issues that alienated voters year after year.”

———

Associated Press writer Michael Mishak contributed to this report.

Legacy Comments33

It seems to me that keeping government out of our daily lives and also running for office on a platform dictated by the religious right is at best contradictory. What business of the government's is abortion? No one is forcing anyone to get one. Focus on jobs, the economy, defense, and maintaining a balance between what's good for the environment and for business. That is what we need, not pushing one religions views down everyone's throat. Keep religion where it belongs, in the home - not in DC.

What business is it of the government to be involved in our medical choices and health anyway? You can't apply your philosophy to one procedure and not all others. The economy needs to be fixed, Obama has failed. He is weakening our defense, yet we are spending huge on entitlement programs. Why are we having homosexuality pushed down everyone's throats? Or anyones sexuality, it belongs in the home and between two people, not in DC,

"Why are we having homosexuality pushed down everyone's throats? Or anyones sexuality, it belongs in the home and between two people, not in DC, " This is what I said in the first place, did you even read my post? Try reading it again, this time slowly and each word. Especially "Focus on jobs, the economy, defense, and maintaining a balance between what's good for the environment and for business. That is what we need, not pushing one religions views down everyone's throat. Keep religion where it belongs, in the home - not in DC. "

So why are you not trashing social agenda movements like you trash religion and belief. One's sexual practices like religion, belongs in the home. You also missed that one's medical history and medical conditions belong in one's home and is one's business, not societies business.

HEADLINES: Al Cardenas Responds to Lack of Pro-Life Emphasis at CPAC 2014 http://www.redstate.com/2014/03/08/al-cardenas-responds-lack-prolife-emphasis-cpac-2014/

We seem to be a nation that is focused on stupid. If the Reps would like to lose again, running on social issues is the way to go. That is how President Obama got elected. He focused on social issues to take attention away from what is important. War on Women, Uneven Playing Field and Greedy Business. Reps walk right back into their trap if they focus on abortion and gay marriage. That reaffirms that they are out of touch. They did the same thing with trying to repeal the ACA over and over. Most Americans wants jobs, security and a business climate where folks can succeed. Focusing on abortion and gay marriage is a recipe for disaster. That is the game plan used to get President Obama reelected. It worked. If the Reps go down that road again they have learned nothing. Rand Paul is the only candidate who is making sense. If you ran for President before on a social agenda and lost, doing it again is pretty darn stupid.

EXCELLENT POST!

REVOLUTION is necessary - The message Perry conveyed is correct - States need to take back America from the liberals in Washington. 10th Amendment: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people" - time for a revolution to stomp out BIG BLOATED GOVT. The dept of Education does not employ 1 single teacher but it does have a swat team.

First you have to get elected. You will not get elected on a platform that seeks to undo abortion or gay marriage period. if you want to put your social agenda ahead of what most folks care about, you will not win any elections. I am all about fiscal responsibility, balanced budgets, and getting rid of programs that do not work. And I am all about small government. President Obama got elected the first time because he claimed he was a centralist, would bring folks together etc. he lied. He got elected the second time because he spent 4 years convincing folks that the Reps would undo the abortion and gay marriage laws. He also won on the idea that business is the enemy, and folks were not informed enough to realize what his policies would do economy wise. He had them focused on social issues like a laser. That is how he was able to win yet again, even with his dismal record. If the Reps do not drop their social agenda, they will go down in flames yet again. The Dems want the Reps to focus on abortion, gay marriage and religion. That way the economy, jobs and this President's poor record is ignored. And the Reps are awful about getting their message out to the youth and what they will be paying for.

RabbitNH - The fact that you say to hide one's views on social agendas so as to just get elected actually says that people are interested in social agendas. Why is this generation of Republicans against telling their true views and their real goals. Why are you advocating to be elected on false pretenses. What you are really saying is you don’t feel the Republican party can win on its true beliefs and agendas...... I too believe in fiscal responsibility, balanced budgets, and getting rid of programs that do not work (waste), tax cheaters, welfare cheaters and am all about a more efficient government. I use to consider myself a person that leaned far more Republican than Democrat, since this new radical me, me, me tea party has come in and now the Republican view to hide the party and candidates true view and intentions I feel I have been made into a Democrat without even changing myself. The Republican party is driving people away.

That is not what I said Jim. I said the Reps are out of touch, And they are. We have laws in this country that have been passed like abortion, gay marriage, etc. The ACA is law and it will succeed or fail on it's own. I do not know one Rep that wants abortion repealed in regards to the folks I know. I also do not know one Rep that wants gay rights appealed. But the message from the left is that all Reps want social issues repealed because we have yahoos like Santorium and Perry stating that morals should be their agenda. Those folks do not represent me, As far as I am concerned, religion and social issues for the most part should not be anybodies agenda unless they are being abused. We have passed laws so women can get abortions. On the same token, no govt should dictate to any religion about their beliefs period. Most Americans are about jobs, security and an economy that needs a fix. They are also worried about what they will be leaving their grandkids in regards to debt and opportunity. I am disgusted with Pols that play gottcha games. They are elected to fix things and they are not. Instead we have the focus on social issues, division and candidates that do not listen to us period. It is like a bad soap opera. Dysfunction to the max. Been a very long time since I have seen a candidate that gets it right.

Rabbit, We have been down this road before. You do not know one Rep that wants abortion repealed? Why not look at the 2012 republican national platform that all Reps signed. In there plain as day is wording to make an unborn fetus sacrosanct and that it deserves constitutional protections. The Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life (Top) Faithful to the “self-evident” truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion or fund organizations which perform or advocate it and will not fund or subsidize health care which includes abortion coverage. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life. We oppose the non-consensual withholding or withdrawal of care or treatment, including food and water, from people with disabilities, including newborns, as well as the elderly and infirm, just as we oppose active and passive euthanasia and assisted suicide This would eliminate any abortion what so ever. In this same document is the wording that marriage is sanctity between a male and female and needs to be preserved. A Sacred Contract: Defense of Marriage (Top) That is why Congressional Republicans took the lead in enacting the Defense of Marriage Act, affirming the right of States and the federal government not to recognize same-sex relationships licensed in other jurisdictions. The current Administration’s open defiance of this constitutional principle – in its handling of immigration cases, in federal personnel benefits, in allowing a same-sex marriage at a military base, and in refusing to defend DOMA in the courts – makes a mockery of the President’s inaugural oath. We commend the United States House of Representatives and State Attorneys General who have defended these laws when they have been attacked in the courts. We reaffirm our support for a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We applaud the citizens of the majority of States which have enshrined in their constitutions the traditional concept of marriage, and we support the campaigns underway in several other States to do so. Ref: http://www.gop.com/2012-republican-platform_home

Want to know how Republicans deal with abortion? Take a look a Texas or Kansas.

You do not have to tell me what the Reps in WA are doing gsec. Nor do you have to tell me what the Dems in WA are doing. My remarks were about people I know who are reps and do not want abortion or gay marriage repealed. Not the idiots in WA. I also made my views clear on repealing the ACA in previous posts and how stupid it is to do that. That Law will succeed or fail on its own merits. I also called Perry and Santorium Yahoos who do not represent me or most of the folks I know. I made it pretty clear I was talking about the folks I know who are Reps. Yet you and Jim glossed over what I said and made it sound like I was talking about Reps in WA. Why? I also stated there has not been a good candidate running for office in a very long time. From all of that you got that I was Totally ignorant of what the Reps in WA are doing when I have commented on them often here in this forum. You tell me, are you reading challenged or do you just use tactics and ignore what I say? centralists.

Rabbit, I never even mentioned the ACA. And unfortunately, the hardline right wing GOP in NH had this same language added about Gay marriage and fetus rights. when more moderates had language allowing for rape, incest, and physical distress. So unfortunately, it would not matter who you would vote for in the 2012 election on the GOP side, whether Federal or state, the premise was identical. Gay rights out the window and the woman's right to an abortion. Sorry man, but it seems many posters here are correct when they say that the only way to get the GOP into the White House is to have their candidate lie.

I also like Huntsman. He did not get elected for many reasons. He had a bad campaign strategy. By that I mean he did not campaign where he should have, and when he did it was too late. He did not have a message. he focused on foreign policy at a time when folks were more concerned about domestic policy. He did not have enough money. The fact that he served as Ambassador and was Governor was a plus to most of us. A Gov from Utah and a Mormon who was running against another Got and Mormon who had more money and was more well known. He would make a great Sec of State in my opinion. And I would have definitely voted for him over Romney.

HUNTSMAN FOR PRESIDENT!!!!!!

I feel there was a great Republican candidate in 2012, but because he served and an ambassador in the Obama administration, he was poison. I still believe today that Huntsman would have been a real decent president

It would not have mattered. The tea party right wingers (Cruz) would have been just as immovable to Huntsman as Obama. More even since they have such disdain for "RINOS".

Well, you have one thing correct. That is that the 10th amendment clearly spells out the process, progressives refuse to follow it.

Advocating revolution against a democratically elected government is treason.

yeah..that 10th amendment thing is so 18th century...

I think that rewriting parts of laws and changing the rules without consent of Congress is grounds for impeachment. I think that using the IRS to target conservative groups is grounds for impeachment. Choosing which laws you want to follow and not follow is grounds for impeachment. Living high off of the hog and all gthe White House over the top parties while hard working Americans suffer is just a sign of arrogance and ignorance.

Might be if any of that were true, but it is not. If it were the Repubs would be reading orders of impeachment right now instead of having endless PR investigations and hearings.

Let's see, he changes Obamacare at the drop of a hat and decides to delay parts of it which legally is the job of Congress. He changed the immigration law by adding what amounts to the Dream Act. He refuses to enforce the border and just this last week it was reported that deportations have indeed decreased under Obama. The Republicans are too interested in not being seen as over the top for the 2014 elections. If they brought those articles, the press would love to have a field day with it and blame them, claiming that there was not reason. On the IRS, if there is nothing to it, why is Lois Lerner not testifying rather than taking the fifth. Scooter Libby did nothing wrong and that witch hunt landed him in jail Why is the hunt of this witch not justified. She is hiding the truth. You don't want the truth as to you the ends justify the means.

And you are full of excuses and clichés.

Scooter Libby did nothing wrong? Seriously? That's why he was convicted by a jury of his peers on 4 counts of lying and obstruction of justice. Or did you forget than inconvenient fact. Meanwhile, Libby stands convicted--and you say he "did nothing wrong", while you're ready to hang Lerner who may be the innocent victim of a witch hunt. Something is seriously wrong with the logic on this. If nothing else, Lerner at least respected Congress enough not to lie to them--which is more than Libby ever did.

Scooter Libby did not "out" Valerie Plame and it did not matter anyway as almost everyone knew that she was CIA anyway. Lerner has something to hide but because she is a woman, Democrats are calling this a "witch" hunt. Wait a darned minute, that may be appropriate after all.

" to delay parts of it which legally is the job of Congress. " Perhaps if congress would do it's job for once. But the only fix the gop will consider is a total repeal, they don't want to fix anything.

They just did it again, 52nd time. And they get paid for wasting time like this.

They need to remove all mandates and allow the bill to stand on its own of fail on its own. If that is what you are talking about.

You don't know what you're talking about--on either the IRS or changes to the ACA--or much else for that matter. it's more of the same old empty, fact-free rhetoric that Mr. Azzi wrote about--"The Charge of the Right Brigade". In this case, it's well within the power of the executive branch to fine-tune/ adjust/ delay enactment of legislation when deemed necessary. "In fact, applicable judicial precedent places such timing adjustments well within the Executive Branch's lawful discretion. As held by former Chief Justice William Rehnquist in a leading case on this subject, Heckler v. Chaney, courts must respect an agency's presumptively superior grasp of 'the many variables involved in the proper ordering of its priorities'...The relevant text [in the Constitution] requires that the President 'take care that the laws be faithfully executed.' Scholars on both left and right concur that this broadly-worded phrasing indicates that the President is to exercise judgment, and handle his enforcement duties with fidelity to all laws, including, indeed, the Constitution." http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/07/delaying-parts-of-obamacare-blatantly-illegal-or-routine-adjustment/277873/

"We’re told we have to put aside what we believe is in the best interests of the country so a Republican candidate can win,” - It makes one wonder how many Republican candidates are willing to follow that cry to get elected. Not their true views, not what they really intend to do if elected but just say anything to get elected. I don't care which side of the proverbial fence you are on - that is not the way the country is supposed to be run. I applaud Santorum for saying he is for giving his real views.

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