Some of the likeliest Republican candidates for president tried out their messages in front of a mostly friendly crowd at today’s Iowa Freedom Summit.
The speakers offered plenty of rhetorical red meat to an audience dominated by conservatives, but also set out to emphasize some policy positions at the gathering in Des Moines sponsored by Citizens United and Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, one of the state’s leading politicians.
Iowa will be the home this time next year for the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses.
Here are some memorable lines and themes from the event.
1.) Former UN Ambassador John Bolton, on the need “to get national security back on the radar screen after six years” of President Obama in the White House:
“Barack Obama does not consider American national security a priority. I believe he is the first president since Pearl Harbor who doesn’t wake up thinking: What threats does America face today?”
2.) Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, attacking Obamacare and calling for a return to a system of consumer-based health care:
“I don’t believe in taking the most important thing a person has, which is their health and their health care, and putting it in the hands of the government.”
3.) New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, on the need for the Republican Party to include the “underrepresented working class” in a new coalition:
“We shouldn’t cater to the wealthy at the expense of middle-income Americans and the working poor.” Americans want “opportunity,” he said, “not the crippling diminishment of the welfare state.”
4.) Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, expounding a faith-based theme of “reigniting the miracle of America”:
“Our rights come from God Almighty, not government. … Caesar has no jurisdiction over the pulpit. … You cannot fight and win a war against radical Islamic terrorism if you’re afraid to utter the words radical Islamic terrorism.”
5.) Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, touting her readiness to improve American leadership — after first taking on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democratic favorite for president:
Mrs. Clinton, flying is an activity, not an accomplishment. I have met [Russian President] Vladimir Putin and know that it will take more to halt his ambitions than a gimmicky red ‘reset’ button. Having done business in over 80 countries and having served as the chairman of the External Advisory Board at the CIA, I know that China is a state sponsor of cyberwarfare and has a strategy to steal our intellectual property. I know [Israeli Prime Minister] Bibi Netanyahu and know that when he warns us, over and over and over again, that Iran is a danger to this nation as well as to his own, that we must listen.
6.) Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, faulting President Obama’s State of the Union characterization of climate change as “the greatest threat” faced by the nation:
“A beheading is a far greater threat to an American than a sunburn. We can’t defeat the enemy, Islamic jihadism, if we don’t call it what it is.”
7.) Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who hinted that she may run after all, on what needs to be taught to the nation’s children:
“There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. There is no free college. There is no free birth control. … Someone always pays. To make a buck, you get off your butt.”
8.) Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, on the priority of strengthening American leadership in the world and living up to the “great moral inheritance”of the nation:
“This administration has chosen to abandon our friends and weaken our alliances.”
9.) Rick Santorum, former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, on the need to prove Republicans are on the side of blue-collar workers:
“Manufacturing jobs are gone only because Washington makes manufacturing uncompetitive in the world market. … We need to be the party of the worker. Why? Well, it’s just good politics. We don’t win because too many people think we don’t care about them.”
10.) Real estate developer and TV personality Donald Trump, on the subject of entitlements while assuring the crowd he is “seriously thinking” about running this time:
“I’ll probably be the only Republican who doesn’t want to cut Social Security. I’m not a cutter of Social Security. I want to make the country rich so we can afford Social Security, and Medicare and Medicaid.”‘
11.) Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, touting what he described as his stands against special interests and his efforts to limit the size and power of government:
“There’s a reason we take a day off to celebrate the 4th of July and not the 15th of April. Because in America we value our independence from the government, not our dependence on it.”