WASHINGTON -- About 1,000 conservative activists, including a couple busloads from Georgia, followed the call of Ralph Reed for his Faith and Freedom Coalition conference to learn about organizing in their home states and have politicians praise their activism.
The Duluth-based group, which Reed describes as "teavangelicals" marrying social and fiscal conservatism, brought in a 2016 cattle call, from Ted Cruz to Chris Christie, as well as a couple of Georgians.
Roswell Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Price rattled off a litany of Obama administration scandals and problems that make it “easy to be cynical.” But the remedy, Price said, comes from the folks in this room to spread the gospel of conservatism.
“We should be tirelessly working to persuade others to come to our cause through reason and compassion and we know we can because we have a story to tell: We believe America is the greatest nation in history of the world,” Price said.
McDonough's Herman Cain, the radio firebrand and onetime presidential contender, was his usual blunt self.
“Those of us who are informed have got to out-vote the stupid people,” Cain said.
Christie’s speech – warmly received and bookended by partial standing ovations – tackled an interesting topic: drug addiction.
“It hasn’t worked,” Christie said of the war on drugs. “What works is giving those people -- nonviolent drug offenders, addicts -- the ability to be able to get the tools they need to be able to deal with their disease. I doubt there is any person in this room that has not had the problem of drug or alcohol addiction touch their families, their neighbors or their friends.”
Christie tied it into a discussion of his anti-abortion stance:
“If you’re pro-life, as I am, you need to be pro-life for the whole life. You can’t just afford to be pro-life when the human being is in the womb. … Sometimes being pro-life [after birth] is messy. Sometimes it’s difficult because human beings make bad choices.”
Among the possible presidential contenders speaking Friday morning were former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., who spoke of the importance of marriage, and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who is in the process of assuring grassroots conservatives that his libertarian-tinged views are not so bad. He was introduced with a video about his anti-abortion views and gave this line: "America is in a full-blown spiritual crisis."