Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

CPAC Recap: As Much Talk about Big-Hatted Pilgrims as the Economy

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

CPAC Recap: As Much Talk about Big-Hatted Pilgrims as the Economy

Article excerpt

CPAC attendees Thursday heard from Rep. Michele Bachmann, Sen. Mitch McConnell, and Gov. Rick Perry. But the economy wasn't a major CPAC theme.

After a parade "of Republican politicians including high-flying Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, House Speaker John Boehner, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former "Growing Pains star Kirk Cameron took the stage at the Conservative Political Action Convention (CPAC).

Mr. Cameron spent about 15 minutes tracing the plight of the original Pilgrims, spanning their journey from England to Holland and finally to the United States. His discussion was capped off with a movie trailer for his new film, "Monumental," coming out in March.

Wait, what's this about Pilgrims?

All together, CPAC attendees heard roughly as much about America's big-hatted forefathers as they did about the current state of the American economy.Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) spent her speaking slot slamming President Obama for giving the Middle East over to Islamic radicals and turning away from Israel. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky focused on the Democratic party's cynical political calculations. Governor Perry got resounding applause for his criticism of Mr. Obama's "war on religion" over contraception.

10 economic protests that changed history

How rapidly the political conversation has changed. Since the Republican presidential candidates hammered Obama over the August jobs report showing the United States generated no new jobs in that month, the unemployment rate has fallen to 8.3 percent from 9.1 percent and the economy has added an average of 183,000 jobs a month. On Thursday, the Labor Department reported that unemployment assistance had fallen to a four year low.Indeed, Perry harnessed the contempt some conservative - and particularly tea party - Americans feel toward the Wall Street bailouts in an applause line that was every bit as harsh on America's financiers as the language used by many Democratic politicians.

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, "those paying the price are not the large banks who were over-leveraged, not the insurance companies who took on too much risk, not the executives who continued to reap these large bonuses even after the walls came a tumbling down," Perry boomed. "No. It was people like you and me... Main St., businesses, our children, who stand to inherit the worst financial disaster this country has ever seen. And it's wrong."

Many speakers did briefly check in on the economy, however.

On a panel about the Arab Spring, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore (R) argued that America needed to bolster its economy for foreign policy purposes. "The most important mission of the United States is to repair our economy," Gilmore said. "If we're going to be prepared to take any kind of action, either economic or military, we've got to do something about that. …

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