DeMint calls on Republicans to ‘build that big tent’ in CPAC speech

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, March 14, 2013

Incoming Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint stressed the importance of unifying the Republican party and conservative movement in his speech at the CPAC Presidential Dinner last night.

DeMint noted that there is a growing divide between the Republican establishment and the conservative movement in the United States, explaining how it has been nearly 20 years since Republicans in Congress “have seriously championed conservative ideas.”

He argued that the Republicans wasted a major opening to merge the two when the Tea Party movement grew in 2010. “The majority of Americans agree with [the ideas of the Tea Party movement],” DeMint said. “This was the opportunity for Republicans to embrace the movement and build that big tent that they’d been talking about for years.”

The former South Carolina Senator also called on the attendees to build upon the successes of the 2010 midterm elections, noting that it was the conservatives, and not the establishment Republicans, who won back the House that year. He argued that we need to have a “permanent, from-the-ground-up grassroots organization” fighting for conservative values and that we need to learn how to explain our ideas to all Americans in ways that work for them.

His advice to conservatives still down from the results of last November’s election: “Get up, spit out a few teeth, wipe the blood off your lip, and get back into the fight. That’s what we’ve got to do.”

Calling his move to Heritage a “promotion,” DeMint remarked that he left the Senate earlier this year because “the president and Congress will not solve America’s problems unless Americans make them solve the problems.”

“Washington is the problem. We are the solution. And it’s urgent that we work together to get our act together as a conservative movement and take action right now,” he continued.

While he acknowledged that it will take a few months to get his agenda at Heritage up and running, he suggested four policy changes that he believes conservatives should fight for now. Among those policies were repealing Obamacare and creating a balanced budget that pays off the federal debt within ten years – much like the one Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) proposed earlier this week.

He also called last week’s filibuster led by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) a “courageous and principled stand,” also applauding several of the other conservative members who joined him, including Marco Rubio of Florida and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, both of whom were assisted by DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund in 2010.

“Rand Paul’s filibuster should remind us that one person with the courage of their convictions can inspire the American people – including young people, women, and minorities,” he said. “And it should remind us that a national conservative movement with leaders who have the vision to stand for bold, courageous ideas could change the course of our nation.”

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