National Harbor, MD– Even though he was fighting a bout of the flu, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference to an enthusiastic crowd. Billionaire Donald Trump was set to speak earlier this morning, but decided to back out. Rubio noted that he’s always astonished at the amount of young people who attend this conference–and by young he means anyone under the age of 44. That quip drew some laughter.
The senator’s speech was grounded in re-embracing conservative leadership for the 21st century; how we need to re-embrace the principles that made our country exceptional; and what it means to be conservative in the 21st century.
Rubio noted that it cannot be how loud you shout, or how many names you call someone. We certainly have the right to be angry at how our political class has governed this country. The senator said that both parties have deficits in addressing the big issues of the day, but fighting that shouldn’t be consumed by fear and anger. A “watch the world burn” isn’t the right way to fix the road we’re heading on, which is that this generation will be left worse than the previous for the first time in American history.
He also mentioned we need to protect our Second Amendment rights that have been targeted by this administration. The Second Amendment, actually the first ten amendments, is not a suggestion; it was meant to protect your families and your property. Rubio also mentioned that it’s time to return some key government functions back to the states, noting that the federal government doesn’t have solutions–and they’re often the source of the problem.
Just as he mentioned at the Kemp Forum on Expanding Opportunity in Columbia, South Carolina in January, conservatives need to apply the principles of free enterprise to help those distressed communities who feel they’re shut out of the American dream.
Rubio said that he walked through the kitchen before taking the stage, shaking the hands of the kitchen staff because these are the jobs that his parents raised their family. The point is someone created those jobs, and with those jobs–they can raise their families and hopefully move up the social ladder. The senator noted that the free enterprise system makes poor people richer without making anyone, especially the job creating and investing class, poorer.
The need for a strong national defense is a pillar of 21st century conservatism it’s integral to world peace. A strong military doesn’t mean we want war; it means we want peace. Weakness, which is a hallmark characteristic of the Obama administration, invites instability and conflict. The world is a safer place when the U.S. has the strongest military on earth. We stand by our allies, like Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, and need to defeat radical Islam because these groups, like ISIS, are enemies of peace. We can’t afford a president who dithers on the legal dynamics associated with with captured terrorists; we need to send them straight to Guantanamo.
Rubio added we should encourage traditional values. No, this doesn’t mean imposing religious dogma on the masses, but if we deny the importance of these values; we forget our history. Americans are the most charitable people on earth due to the Judeo-Christian values that teach us to care for one another. You do not understand America, or our history, if you cannot comprehend the role of faith, family, and community has played in shaping our country.
He closed by saying that conservatism isn’t built solely on personalities–a subtle jab at Trump–it’s built on a set of principles our nation desperately needs. Every generation has faced a monumental challenge: civil rights, World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War. Each of these events either tore America apart or tore apart American families, and they divided the generation that was set to lead during those periods. In the end, they overcame those obstacles and left a country that was stronger and better that left by the previous generation. That trend is now in doubt. Yet, being the eternal optimist, Rubio said that it’s our time to lead; it’s our time to face the issues that threaten to derail the country; and that the 21st century is tailor made for this generation.
Young Americans are the most technologically advanced and cooperative generation in history, but this generation, and the country, won’t have the chance to succeed if we let Hilary Clinton win the White House, or if the conservative movement is hijacked by someone who isn’t conservative.
There was a Q&A period hosted by CNN’s Dana Bash, where she was criticized slightly for being Trump-centric with her questions; Rubio noted that two out of the three questions she asked revolved around the billionaire magnate. This partially explains why we have a pro-Planned Parenthood candidate, who refuses to support Israel, leading the 2016 Republican field. Rubio lamented that we need to understand why this happened because if you had asked him who will be the frontrunner last August, he would have never guess that Trump would take the top spot. He also noted listed the number of young conservatives in the movement, Gov. Susana Martinez, Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. Scott Walker etc., and said that they are who they are politically because they grew up in the Reagan era, a president who was nothing like Donald Trump.