February 11, 2012 by staff
CPAC 2012, Four years ago, Mitt Romney took the stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) to exit the 2008 presidential race.
On Friday, Romney was the on-again, off-again frontrunner for the GOP 2012 nomination looking to score enough points with conservative activists, volunteers and media members to earn what American Conservative Union chairman Al Cardenas called “the ultimate seal of approval in terms of authenticity from conservatives.”
While that seal of approval wasn’t necessarily evident after Romney’s appearance, he used his speech in Northwest Washington, D.C. to rip President Obama’s record and highlight his own conservative credentials.
“My family, my faith, my businesses – I know conservatism because I have lived conservatism,” Romney said. “As the governor of Massachusetts I had the unique experience of defending conservative principles in the most liberal state in the nation.”
He contrasted his record with Obama’s, who he called “the poster child for the arrogance of government.”
“This election is really a battle for the soul of America,” Romney continued. “Whether we want a nation of and by Washington, or a nation of and by a free people. And we conservatives believe in freedom and free people and free enterprises.”
He even managed a few deft digs at two of his main opponents, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
“Any politician that tries to convince you that they hated Washington so much that they just couldn’t leave,” Romney said. “Well, that’s the same politician that will try to sell you a bridge to nowhere.”
However, Romney was largely silent on two items that some attendees said they most wanted to see from the former Bain Capital executive: emotional outreach to voters and a discussion of his Massachusetts healthcare plan that created a state-run healthcare system.
Mr. Cardenas said that voters needed to see Mitt Romney speaking from his heart. Noting Herman Cain’s success at a CPAC straw poll last year, he added “No one gave Herman Cain, in Florida, a calling card about what he needed to say but he spoke from the heart and he spoke with conviction.”
“To hit a home run, you’ve got to cover all the bases and let people know you’re speaking from the heart,” said Cardenas, whose group puts on CPAC every year. “When your primary focus in life has been a successful career in business, you want to make sure that people also know the emotional side of you.
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