The Latest: Pence says conservative have a rare opportunity

AP News
Posted: Feb 23, 2017 8:18 PM
The Latest: Pence says conservative have a rare opportunity

OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — The Latest on the Conservative Political Action Conference (all times local):

8:10 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence says the United States has what could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to install conservative solutions to the nation's problems.

Pence says at the Conservative Political Action Conference that President Donald Trump's election is the "chance we've worked so hard, so long, to see." He says Trump's new administration gives conservatives the time to "prove again that our answers are the right answers for America."

Pence says the administration will repeal and replace the health care law, saying the nation's "Obamacare nightmare is about to end." But he says conservatives must mobilize to push back against Democrats.


2:30 p.m.

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus (ryns PREE'-bus) and top strategist Stephen Bannon say they have a great partnership and that it's helping President Donald Trump fulfill his campaign promises.

Media reports have suggested Priebus and Bannon don't get along and have competing agendas.

Their joint appearance Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference outside the nation's capital seemed geared toward countering those stories.

Bannon calls Priebus "indefatigable." Priebus says Bannon is "dogged" and "incredibly loyal."

Both called on conservatives to stay active in helping Trump enact an agenda that Bannon says centers on a "nationalist economic" approach.

Bannon says: "We are a nation with a culture and a reason for being."


1:50 p.m.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is defending the decision to rescind public-school bathroom rules for transgender students.

DeVos says, "This was a huge example of the Obama administration's overreach." DeVos is speaking at a gathering of thousands of conservative activists near Washington. She says the guidance was "one-size fits all" and "top-down." She says her approach is to put as much control as possible into state, local and parental hands.

She says she wants to provide more flexibility on how education is delivered and experienced. DeVos also says that with Trump in the White House and Republicans controlling Congress, conservatives now have a "unique window of opportunity" to expand school choice programs.


12:35 p.m.

Sen. Ted Cruz is predicting there will be another vacancy on the Supreme Court this summer.

The Texas Republican told a conference of conservatives in the Washington area that "as much as the left is crazy now, they will go full Armageddon" if there's another vacancy that would shift the makeup of the court further to the right.

Cruz said that filling the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last year would "preserve constitutional victories" under the prior court.

Cruz told the adoring throng of conservatives the "the next vacancy is where we have the ability to get back and restore our basic constitutional protections."

He didn't say which justice he thought might retire, though Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 83 and swing vote Anthony Kennedy is 80.


12:25 p.m.

White nationalist Richard Spencer says he's been kicked out of a gathering of conservative activists.

Spencer posted a video on the internet saying he was "politely asked to leave" the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Spencer was booted shortly after being denounced by an organizer of the conference. American Conservative Union Executive Director Dan Schneider denounced the so-called alt-right as anti-Semitic, racist and sexist.

Spencer recently addressed a Washington alt-right gathering at which people were shown on video extending their arms in the Nazi salute.

Spencer spent almost an hour at CPAC talking to the media and conference attendees. He said he "coined the term" alt-right and was wearing a general admission badge.


11:10 a.m.

The leader of the American Conservative Union has taken the stage of an activist conference to forcefully denounce as "sinister" the alternative right. As he is speaking, a white nationalist leader is walking the hallways of the same event.

Dan Schneider, the ACU's executive director, is calling the alt-right anti-Semitic, racist and sexist. He says people who hold those beliefs are in no way conservative. "They despise everything that we believe in."

Schneider specifically decried a recent Washington meeting of people who were shown on video extending their arms in the Nazi salute.

Yet as Schneider is speaking, the leader of that meeting is steps away. Richard Spencer is telling reporters that he "coined the term" alt-right. He is wearing a general admission badge, an indication he paid to attend.


10:40 a.m.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has advice for Donald Trump: "Do what you said you were going to do."

Speaking at a conference of conservatives outside Washington, Walker urges Trump and conservatives to "go big, go bold."

Walker recounts his battles with liberal activists and labor unions, comparing his experience in Wisconsin with what President Donald Trump and his Cabinet are experiencing now. He tells the activists, "Been there, done that."

Walker ran for president last year and after dropping out endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Walker endorsed Trump after the Republican National Convention.


10:05 a.m.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway is thanking conservatives for helping elect President Donald Trump.

Conway tells a gathering in a Maryland suburb of Washington that while Trump might not have naturally bonded with conservatives at first, "he went right to the grassroots and brought you along."

She says, "He earned the nomination in a way that was bottom-up, not top-down." She also describes Trump as "a man who just absorbs information and people and experiences."

Conway is speaking to the Conservative Political Action Conference, which draws more than 10,000 activists. Others from the Trump administration, including Vice President Mike Pence, will speak later Thursday. Trump addresses the group Friday.