WASHINGTON – Republicans see the November midterm elections as an opportunity to take the nation on a different path and call for a new conservative message focusing on the problems of regular Americans.
During the latest convention of conservative activist Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition in Washington, D.C., Republicans confidently proclaimed that the GOP has an opportunity to turn back the past six years of President Obama’s administration in the midterm elections.
“There’s only one thing to be done in 2014…and that is to take back America by taking back the Senate,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said at a reception hosted by the Faith and Freedom Coalition at the U.S. Capitol.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said the Republican Party is “poised” to win the Senate majority in the midterm elections.
“The most important thing we can do in November is to retire [Senate] Majority Leader Harry Reid,” he said.
“We’ve had a nice family fight in some of our primaries but after those primaries are over we need to unify and win in November,” he added later.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal prophetically declared that a “hostile takeover” was coming to Washington.
“I can sense right now a rebellion brewing amongst these United States, where people are ready for a hostile takeover of Washington, D.C., to preserve the American Dream for our children and grandchildren,” Jindal said at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s “Road to Majority” conference that brought thousands of evangelical Christians to the nation’s capital.
The conference featured most of the well-known Republicans considering a 2016 presidential run, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Republicans have heightened their criticism of the Obama administration and Senate Democrats, as both the midterm elections and the 2016 presidential election get closer. And many of the conference’s speakers did not fail to annunciate the ills they attribute to Obama and the Democrats.
McConnell said America is at a “crossroads” after six years under the Obama administration and its policies that have put the nation on a path to “Europeanization.”
“Big debt, big government, high taxes, big regulations…this is their agenda,” he said.
Cornyn echoed the same sentiment by telling those in attendance that “big government” policies have resulted in slow growth and high unemployment.
“The last six years we’ve had an experiment, and we know how the experiment has turned out. We have…higher taxes, more regulations, and abominations like Obamacare, which have created so much hardship and difficulty and have demonstrated that big government policies rarely deliver what they promise,” he said.
But other speakers chastised their fellow Republicans for not connecting with the poor and middle class, and delivered an appeal to put those Americans most affected by the recent economic downturn at the center of the conservative agenda.
Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, exhorted conservatives to “fight for those who need it the most.”
“In 2014, we’re going to have two economic growth rates. We’re going to see five percent economic growth for people in the top half of the economy, and we’re going to see zero percent economic growth for people in the bottom half,” Brooks said. “We are becoming two Americas and in the past five years, it’s been worse and worse to be on the wrong side of the privileged divide.”
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said the GOP is at a “crisis point” because its message over the past three decades has become “a little stale and out of step with where America’s problems are.”
“We’re a movement that continues to focus on issues that are not as relevant to average Americans as they used to be,” he said.
In his speech, Santorum argued that the Republican Party needs to fight for what he called the nation’s most basic economic units, families, by reforming welfare programs and investment in American manufacturing. He stressed the need to appeal to the so-called “blue collar conservatives” – a point he also emphasizes in his recently released book of the same name.
“As a movement we have not been connecting with the people who are hurting in this country and providing them a message and a plan for them to embrace and live the American dream,” Santorum said. “If you listen to the message that we’ve been delivering, it’s all about the business owner, it’s all about the corporation, it’s all about Wall Street. It’s not about average working Americans.”
He urged members of his party to shift their focus more toward helping families and workers.
“The conservative movement is no longer the movement of the corporate boardroom or the country club,” Santorum said. “The vast majority of our supporters are people who hold traditional values like you and they’re not business people – they’re workers.”
He also warned that the GOP will have a tough time in the elections “if people don’t think we care about them.”
“Sixteen percent of Americans say that the Republican Party is compassionate,” Brooks said. “Sixteen percent. What was the only piece of data you needed to call the 2012 presidential election? ‘Who cares more about people like you?’ That was all you needed, because it went two to one for Obama. …We have to turn that around.”