1897_custom650x400Under the banner “The Next Generation of Conservatives” Al Cardenas kicked off the 2013 Conservative Political Action Convention (CPAC), the nation’s largest annual gathering of conservatives, activists and prominent GOP voices. Cardenas, the chairman of the American Conservative Union (ACU), outlined three critical goals moving forward, including “embrace changing demographics of America not by diluting our principles but reaching out to all Americans.”

America has changed significantly since the ACU began hosting CPAC 40 years ago. In today’s America Hispanics now make up 16% of the U.S. population and growing rapidly, with over 500,000 Hispanic youth turning 18 each year – voting age. This reality has not escaped conservative leaders, wide-eyed after the 2012 election.

Under Chairman Cardenas, CPAC has continued its tradition of showcasing diverse conservative voices from every background. It’s fitting that each year more of those voices happen to be of Hispanic origin.

Discussing dozens of issues during the three-day conference Hispanic conservatives peppered various panels providing their expertise and insights. Latino foreign policy specialists like Roger Noriega and Otto Riech, prominent business leaders like Hector Barreto, pro-immigration reform advocates, grassroots organizers and top Hispanic GOP elected leaders filled the National Harbor outside of Washington DC for CPAC.

The conference’s opening day featured Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. Closing out the conference was Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who was tapped to give the keynote address.

A central message at CPAC is that Hispanics have much more in common with the GOP than they think.

The conservative movement is an attractive place for Hispanics, many who naturally share values with the right of center movement. Latino political attitudes on the importance of hard work, entrepreneurship, family and education all provide an opening for conservatives with this growing demographic.  A 2012 Gallup poll showed that second generation Hispanics are more open to conservative policies than their immigrant parents, demonstrating that attitudes about the role of government shift significantly between generations.

Rejecting calls from political pundits, conservatives do not believe they need to change core principles – individual liberty, personal reasonability, free enterprise and the belief in American exceptionalism – to attract new voters. Conservatives don’t need new principles, they need new ideas and better tactics on how to communicate these values to Hispanic voters.  A suggestion repeated by speakers throughout CPAC.

“You grow your tent by convincing others, persuading others that yours is the way. And you build your tent by reaching out to the new demographics of America, not with a watered down version of who we ought to be,” said Cardenas, who is the first Hispanic to lead the ACU.

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Former GOP Presidential Candidate and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney addressed CPAC 2013 and was greeted with thunderous applause. Like a flashback from the campaign, Romney walked out to “Born Free” by Kid Rock as the crowd cheered “MITT MITT MITT.”

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“I’m proud of our immigrant heritage, proud that so many of us and of our ancestors came here because they wanted to be here, to build a better future for their children here, to worship their God here.”
Read Gov. Romney’s full remarks as prepared for delivery (after the jump):

Today, Senator Marco Rubio  (R-FL) addressed an enthusiastic crowd of conservatives gathered for American Conservative Union’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC 2013) in Washington, D.C. Introduced by Al Cardenas, ACU Chairman, Rubio addressed a packed room of attendees on a variety of issues facing our nation. 
Senator Marco Rubio:

There is no tax increase in the world that will solve our debt problem.”  Regarding school choice, he said “Every parent in America should have the opportunity to send their child to the school of their choice.” He went on to say “We do have obligations; obligations to each other through community, not government.”

As he closed his speech, Rubio predicted criticism from the left, saying, “We don’t need a new idea, the idea is America, and it still works.”

The room sprang to its feet in a standing ovation and twitter lit up with his remarks. For more follow me on twitter at @BettinaInclan

Tackling one of the most controversial issues in politics, a panel of policy experts led a conversation at CPAC titled ” Immigration “Respecting Families and the Rule of Law: A Lasting Immigration Policy.”
Panelists included:
Dr. Whit Ayers, President, North Star Opinion Research
Dan Garza, Executive Director, The LIBRE Initiative
Helen Krieble, Founder and President, The Vernon K. Krieble Foundation
Jenny Korn, Executive Director, American Action Network
The Honorable Raúl Labrador
Moderator:  Helen Aguirre Ferré, Host, “Zona Politica”The moderator for the panel was journalist Helen Aguirre Ferré who began the immigration discussion saying “there isn’t a topic today that has done more to divide our nation unnecessarily.”

Selected comments by the panelists include:

Dr. Whit Ayers: Regarding the projected influx of young immigrants over the next few decades, “If we hope to have a vibrant center-right coalition, we better reach out aggressively.”

Dan Garza: Talked about the immigrant experience and his families personal story saying he was taught “hard work, perseverance and access to a free market will help us achieve in America.”

Jenny Korn: “Immigration reform is a conservative issue.” She continued, “You can be conservative and be for immigration reform.

The Honorable Raúl Labrador: “We can offer a modern immigration system that keeps us strong, safe, and free.” Labrador continued, “It’s time again for the Republican party to again become the party of change.”

One of the biggest applause for the Labrador came when he said “We have too many Republicans that speak like conservatives and act like moderates. We need Republicans that speak like moderates and act like conservatives.”

For up to the minute updates follow me at @BettinaInclan on twitter.

 

Greetings from the Conservative Political Action Conference were Hispanic Conservatives are poised to have a strong presence at the nation’s largest gathering of conservative activists. Discussing topics from economy, immigration, foreign policy to coalition building at National Harbor outside of Washington D.C. from March 14 – 16 the conservative activist with diverse Hispanic backgrounds will provide some fresh perspective to this important national summit.

Among the conference noted speakers include two very prominent Republican Senators of Hispanic decent, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. Cruz will give the key note speech at CPAC He will become the first Hispanic in CPAC’s 40-year history to deliver the keynote address.

Stay tuned throughout the week for more updates.

Below are some of the Hispanic speakers speaking on CPAC panels (This is not the full panel). For more information and to see a full list of speakers.For today, Thursday, 3/14 some select highlights:

Today from Politico’s morning score, they report on a new ad from Republicans for Immigration Reform supporting Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Republicans for Immigration reform: $60,000, TV and cable (statewide in S.C.; March 13-19).Charlie Spies, co-founder and treasurer of Republicans for Immigration Reform: “Senator Lindsey Graham understands that immigration plays an integral role in the way South Carolinians work, live and do business. With Sen. Graham’s support, Republicans can lead the way on a comprehensive immigration reform package that modernizes the laws and encourages economic expansion, competition, and job creation in South Carolina and across the country.”http://bit.ly/WHaA0l

Recently we reported how Republicans For Immigration Reform were ready to get very involved this cycle and provide cover to Republicans supporting passage of a real solution for immigration.

A quick visual that America is truly a diverse nation of immigrants. This map illustrates the top language, other than English, spoken at home in each county in the country. No surprise, Spanish is the most popular second language in the U.S. Thanks to Washington Post’s The Fix, who like us, is obsessed with maps.

“Who knew that Italian was so popular in a county in southeastern Montana? Or that French was so prevalent in all of Maine? Or that Scandanavian (Norwegian, Swedish etc.) was the prevalent second language in the northernmost points of North Dakota and Minnesota? The map serves as (yet another) reminder that most of all politics is (still) local.”

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The map comes courtesy from the Sunlight Foundation. (Click the map to see a bigger image on their site.)

Wish I could see which is the second most spoken language in each county. I’m pretty sure we would see a spike in Asian languages.