January 25, 2015

Christie addresses critics at start of Iowa Freedom Summit speech (AUDIO)

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie came to Saturday’s Iowa Freedom Summit with a speech designed to counter critics who question Christie’s conservative credentials.

“I have heard and read the conventional wisdom that somehow a guy from New Jersey would not be welcomed or understood at the Iowa Freedom Summit,” Christie said, “that somehow I’m too loud, that I’m too blunt and I’m too direct.”

Christie then cited the 11 times he’s visited Iowa in the past five years, at the invitation of the Iowa GOP, Governor Terry Branstad and Congressman Steve King, the host of Saturday’s event.

“Now let me ask you this: If I was too blunt, too direct, too loud and too ‘New Jersey’ for Iowa, then why do you people keep inviting me back?” Christie asked, as the crowd laughed. “And even more importantly if the values I’m fighting for every day in New Jersey and all across this country are not consistent with your values, then why would I keep coming back? I wouldn’t. I do because our values are consistent and we’re fighting together to make this a better country.”

Christie stood behind the lectern and flipped the pages of his prepared text as he spoke, but at the start of his speech, Christie was interrupted by a protester and it provided an unscripted moment.

“Don’t they know I am from New Jersey and this doesn’t bother me one bit?” Christie said, to cheers from the crowd as the protester was escorted out of the auditorium by security.

AUDIO of Christie’s speech

Christie was the next-to-last speaker of the day for the crowd who’d gathered in the historic Hoyt Sherman Place to hear from a handful of potential 2016 presidential candidates. Christie listed his campaign successes in New Jersey and told the crowd Republicans don’t have to back away from their pro-life stand in “blue states” like his own. He did not address the so-called “Bridgegate” scandal that involved his deputy chief of staff, but Congressman Steve King did bring up the controversy in his introduction of Christie. King praised the New Jersey governor for how he’s handled the media attention surrounding the bridge closure.

At Iowa Freedom Summit, Fiorina & Palin blast Hillary Clinton (AUDIO)

Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, offered a biting critique of Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state, drawing cheers from the crowd of conservatives gathered at Saturday’s Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines.

“Like Hillary Clinton I, too, have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles around the globe, but unlike her, I have actually accomplished something,” Fiorina said, setting of whoops, cheers and applause from the crowd.

Fiorina touted her own resume in contrast to Clinton’s, telling the crowd she had “done business in over 80 countries” and had served “for several years” as chair of the Central Intelligence Agency’s external advisory board. Fiorina dismissed the Obama administration’s approach to Russia as “gimmicky” and she blasted the way President Obama and Clinton handled security at the diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.

“And unlike Hillary Clinton I know what difference it makes that our American ambassador and three other brave Americans were killed in a deliberate terrorist attack on the anniversary of 9/11 in Libya,” Fiorina said, to applause. “And apparently unlike Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama I know our response must be more forceful than the arrest a single individual one year later.”

The crowd rose to its feet, whistling and cheering.

AUDIO of Fiorina’s speech

Fiorina, who has said she may run for president in 2016, unsuccessfully ran against long-time California Senator Barbara Boxer in 2010. Fiorina formed a political action committee in 2014 and supported conservative female candidates around the country, including Iowa’s Joni Ernst.

Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor who campaigned for Ernst last fall as well, was also a speaker at Saturday’s Iowa Freedom Summit. Palin, who spoke longer than any other featured guest at the event, urged Republicans to “go on offense” against Hillary Clinton now.

“Knowing what the media will do throughout 2016 to all of us, it’s going to take ‘more than a village’ to beat Hillary,” Palin said, and as the crowd applauded, some women in the audience started chanting: “Sarah! Sarah!”

Cruz urges Iowans to check candidates’ conservative cred (AUDIO)

Texas Senator Ted Cruz is urging Iowans who intend to vote in the Caucuses more than a year from now to “scrutinize” the records of candidates seeking support from the party’s conservatives.

“In a Republican primary every candidate’s going to come in front of you and say, ‘I’m the most conservative guy that ever lived. Gosh darn it, hoodiddly I’m conservative,'” Cruz said. “Well, you know what? Talk is cheap. The word tells us, ‘You shall know them by their fruit,’ and one of the most important roles of the men and women in this room, the men and women of Iowa will play is to look each candidate in the eye and say: ‘Don’t talk. Show me.'”

Cruz offered his own check-list for conservatives, calling for the end of ObamaCare, reigning in the EPA and adopting a simple “flat” income tax. He joked that by closing the Internal Revenue Service, all of the agency’s employees could be redeployed to provide security along the southern border.

“Think about it for a second. Imagine you had traveled thousands of miles through Central America, through the heat, you’re swimming across the Rio Grande and the first thing you see is 110,000 IRS agents,” Cruz said, as the crowd laughed. “You’d turn around and go home, too.”

Cruz was among the roster of speakers at Saturday’s Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines, but Cruz has been courting Iowa conservatives for two and a half years. At the time of his speech to Iowa delegates at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa Cruz was a candidate for the U.S. Senate, but had not yet been elected. Since then Cruz has been a frequent visitor to Iowa, urging crowds to reassemble the coalition that helped elect Ronald Reagan president 35 years ago.

“We do not accept losing this country,” Cruz said to conclude his speech. “We will together reignite the miracle of America. We will together bring back that shining city on a hill that is the United States of America.”

AUDIO of Cruz’s speech

Cruz appeared in both 2013 and 2014 at Iowa events hosted by The Family Leader and The Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, groups of Christian conservative activists. Saturday’s event was hosted by Congressman Steve King and Citizens United, a conservative organization best known for its successful legal challenge of campaign spending restrictions.

Protesters disrupt Rick Perry’s Iowa Freedom Summit speech

Protesters disrupted former Texas Governor Rick Perry’s speech at today’s Iowa Freedom Summit, prompting the Republicans in the room to rise to their feet and roar back. The hullaballo started when Perry starting talking about security on the country’s southern border.

“We need to send a message to congress: secure the border now. Override this president’s lawless executive order. Restore law and order to our border in Mexico. Stand up to this face of evil and protect our citizens,” Perry said.

At this point a handful of protesters carrying blue stgns stood up in the balcony and started yelling in opposition. As the crowd rose in support of Perry, the former Texas governor continued speaking.

“That’s the face of America,” Perry said. “That’s what they’re going to see for the next two years. This is why we live in America today, to be able to stand up and tell our government to do what we want to do. That’s what we elected them for.”

Perry dispatched Texas National Guard troops to his state’s southern border late this summer. His 14-year run as governor of Texas ended this past week. Two of today’s protesters were arrested.

Santorum to GOP: ‘too many people think we don’t care about them’ (AUDIO)

During a speech this afternoon at the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Rick Santorum got “nostalgic” about his victory in Iowa’s 2012 Caucuses and the hours he logged on the road here.

“It is well worth the mileage and the sleep to go to all 99 counties in Iowa and if any one of these other guys wants a travel log, I’d be happy to share it with them,” Santorum said to close his speech.

Santorum began by joking that it was in the same venue as today’s summit that people first took note in 2011 of his penchant for wearing sweater vests. Santorum said it had been a “very wild and crazy Caucus night” for him, the night he was declared the second place finisher before announcement a couple of weeks later that “certfieid” results showed Santorum was the winner.

“You made a good decision and you’re going to have to do that again,” Santorum said. “And this is a serious time.”

After Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012, Santorum has been challenging the GOP to recalibrate its message to, for instance, assure non-college educated Americans Republicans understand their economic fears.

“We don’t win because too many people think we don’t care about them,” Santorum said. “We’ve got to show them not just by saying we do not just by having policies and message where they can see it and they can feel it in us.”

AUDIO of Santorum’s speech

Santorum is staying in Iowa, with stops in western Iowa on Sunday and eastern Iowa on Monday. He’ll speak at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association conference in Altoona on Tuesday.

Walker: ‘I’m going to come back many more times’ to Iowa (AUDIO)

Wisconsin’s Scott Walker today presented himself to the crowd at the Iowa Freedom Summit as a governor who is employing a “comprehensive, conservative, common sense agenda” to cut taxes and take power away from “big government special interests” like unions for teachers.

“Common sense conservative reforms can actually work and they work in a blue state like Wisconsin,” Walker said. “If they work in Wisconsin, they can work anywhere in the country, right?”

Walker began his remarks by reminding the audience that, because of his 2012 recall election, he has won three races for governor in the last four years, in a state that hasn’t gone for a Republican presidential candidate in three decades.

“I think that sends a powerful message to Republicans in Washington and around the country. If you’re not afraid to go big and go bold, you can actually get results,” Walker said. “…And if you get the job done, the voters will actually stand up with you.”

He also shared details about some of the death threats he and his family have received.

“Time and time again the protesters were trying to intimidate us, but you know what? All they did was remind me how important it was to stand up for the people of my state,” Walker said. “They reminded me to focus on why I ran for governor in the first place.”

Walker stressed that the nation’s path to economic success is more similar to the “Wisconsin Way rather than the Washington Way.” Walker drew whistles and cheers when he talked about decisions in Wisconsin to “defund” Planned Parenthood, to require voters to show a photo ID and to get rid of seniority rules for hiring and firing teachers. Walker closed with a litany of complaints about President Obama’s leadership on the world stage.

“I’m pleased to be here in Iowa today. I’m going to come back many more times in the future,” Walker said. “I’m hopeful to work together with you to help us provide that kind of leadership that is new and fresh and bold and aggressive.”

While some of the other would-be presidential candidates spoke to reporters either before or after their speech at today’s summit, Walker did not.

AUDIO of Walker’s speech

Trump touts business career, but not TV show during Iowa speech (AUDIO)

Businessman and reality TV star Donald Trump came to the Iowa Freedom Summit today with a list of problems he says he’d fix as president, from crumbling infrastructure to Social Security and ObamaCare.

“I know what needs to be done to make America great again…The potential is enormous and I am seriously thinking of running for president, ’cause I can do the job,” Trump said, drawing cheers and applause from the crowd.

Trump delivered a blistering assessment of Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney, both of whom are being urged to run in 2016 by some of the party’s wealthiest donors and the crowd roared it approval with each Trump jab.

“You just can’t have those two,” Trump said, to cheers. “It’s so simple.”

Trump touted the “incredible company” he’s created and did not mention his reality TV show during his speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit. The crowd often interrupted his remarks with cheers and applause.

“For those of you who know and love Donald Trump,” Trump said in the middle of his speech, to whoops. “There are some of you.”

Trump boasted he’s building “one of the great hotels of the world” near the White House and told the crowd they’d “be proud” when he publicly discloses his financial statement.

“Politicians are all talk, no action,” Trump said, to applause from the crowd. “…I’m a conservative, actually very conservative, and I’m a Republican and I’m very disappointed in our Republican politicians,” Trump said. He was interrupted by affirmations and applause from the crowd before he added: “because they let the president get away with absolute murder.”

AUDIO of Trump’s speech

This is the second time in six months that Trump has traveled to Iowa to speak to a crowd conservatives. He spoke at The Family Leadership Summit in Ames this past August. Trump also did a fundraiser this past fall for Congressman Steve King, the co-host of today’s summit.