WASHINGTON—Top Republican politicians and presidential hopefuls agreed the United States needs smaller government, stronger families, and a spiritual awakening during Friday’s fourth annual Road to Majority Conference sponsored by the Faith and Freedom Coalition.
The conference was designed to organize and educate conservative voters, but it also served as a place for GOP presidential hopefuls to flex their political muscles before supporters. Ralph Reed is the chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a nonprofit political organization committed to informing Christian, conservative voters. In his introductory comments, Reed said government is not the ultimate answer to any political or social issue: “Whatever problems we have as a nation, God is bigger than any one of them.”
Chris Christie, Rand Paul, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, and more than a dozen other speakers criticized government policies and expressed their hopes for the Republican Party.
A few hundred people attended the event at the historic Omni Shoreham Hotel. Sen. Paul, R-Ky., opened his speech with a campaign ad showing his work as a doctor and pro-life advocate.
Paul emphasized human rights at home and abroad, saying the U.S. should not send any money to nations that persecute Christians. “There’s a war on Christians going on, and sometimes you’re being asked to pay for it,” he said.
Paul also discussed the need for a moral revival, saying, “Without virtue, freedom casts about, and, I think, chaos beckons.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie entertained the audience with blunt stories about how he turned around his state’s finances. His address covered international and domestic affairs, abortion, and economic policy in 10 minutes.
Christie spent several minutes connecting his push to provide drug rehab to non-violent addicts to his fight against abortion.
“You need to be pro-life for the whole life,” he said.
Former Sen. Rick Santorum, who lost the GOP presidential nomination to Mitt Romney in 2012, called Republicans to task for not drawing in blue-collar workers. “We aren’t going to win elections if people don’t think we care about them,” he said.
His speech pushed for support of traditional marriage, low taxes for businesses, and compassion. “It’s time to start talking to America again,” he said.
As the morning wore on and a dedicated few stayed through lunch, Herman Cain rallied them with an exhortation to vote and be informed about politics. Cain also ran for the 2012 Republican nomination and dropped out. He dodged rumors about joining the 2016 run while criticizing the current administration.
“Stupid people are ruining America,” he said. “Those of us who are informed have got to outvote the stupid people.”
Friday’s speeches followed the conference’s opening events on Thursday, in which Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., spoke.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, newly elected House majority leader, told the audience Friday: “We will unite, we will have the courage to lead, and we will turn this country back around.”