With the Republican Party grappling with how to emerge from the ashes of the 2012 election, much of the Conservative Political Action Convention has focused on how to best position conservatives going forward. But as top speakers have shown, there's hardly a consensus on the recipe for success. Two camps have emerged though – one which wants to double-down on tried and true principles and one which wants to shake things up. Here's a round-up of the top advocates of each school of thought.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. –
"The GOP of old has grown stale and moss-covered. I don't think we need to name any names, do we? Our party is encumbered by an inconsistent approach to freedom. The new GOP will need to embrace liberty in both the economic and the personal sphere. If we're going to have a Republican Party that can win, then liberty needs to be the backbone of the GOP. We must have a message that is broad, over vision must be broad, and that vision must be based on freedom."
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. –
"[Americans] look at the political process, whether it's fair or not, what many of them see is that one side is fighting for the people that have made it and all the other side does is fight for government policies to protect the people who are struggling. And they don't want to take anything away from anyone. But they wonder, who's fighting for them? As conservative believers in limited government and free enterprise – that is both our challenge and our opportunity – to be their voice."
Michael Barone, senior political analyst with the Washington Examiner –
"Let's show how some people's dreams were shattered by bad government policies."
STAY THE COURSE
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky –
"I completely reject the notion that we have a winning message for an electorate that doesn't exist anymore. Look, opportunity, growth, community, self-government, faith, family, life, innovation, choice and freedom in all of its varieties – these things never lose their worth or their power to motivate and to inspire. Society may change, demographics may shift, but the principles that make us a free and prosperous society never do and conservatives – we own these principles. We own them. And look – if we're confident of that, we'll win everyday of the week."
Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney –
"In the end, we will win just as we have won before, and for the same reason – because our cause is right and just."
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis. –
"We don't hide our beliefs. We argue for them—because a budget is more than just a list of numbers. It's an expression of our governing philosophy. And our budget draws a sharp contrast with the Left. It says to the people—in unmistakable terms—'They are the party of shared hardship. We are the party of equal opportunity."