Safely ensconced inside the Omni Shoreham Hotel, conservatives attending the 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference celebrated a return to their roots, as speaker after speaker promised to wrest power from Democrats masquerading as conservatives once they again gained the public trust.
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), chairman of the Republican Conference said: The truth is, Republicans didnt just lose a few elections, and we lost our way. We walked away from the principles that minted our national majority, and the American people walked away from us.
Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee said: The American people, and even many conservatives, have justly lost faith in the Republican Partys ability to lead with principle. By acting boldly, thinking big and staying principled, we will allow our people to lead us back to prosperity and return our government to the role for which our founders fought and died.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the keynote speaker, said: I dont believe that millions of Americans simply embraced liberalism over the last four years. Voters saw an economy in decline, foreclosures rising, retirements dropping.
Ryan, Pence and their fellow House Members also served up heavy helpings of red meat and peppered their remarks with mockery of their favorite villain, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
Pence claimed that after writing a stimulus bill that was nothing more than a wish list of liberal spending priorities and power grabs, Pelosi went to the House floor and said, every American is asking, Whats in it for me?
Price went one step further, calling Pelosi disingenuous.
When you watch Speaker Pelosi at a bill signing, it makes you angry because shes so disingenuous which she is, he said.
Even Ryan, whose remarks centered largely on budgetary issues, took a shot at the Speaker.
Speaker Pelosi said that this would stimulate the economy because contraception will reduce the costs to the states and the federal government. She explained that we have to deal with the consequences of the economic downturn, he said. The pretense that babies are a drain on our financial and fiscal resources has always been one of the uglier aspects of liberalism.
However, bipartisanship was not the goal of this conference. Laughs and even cheers met each poke and nudge toward the Democratic Congress and President Barack Obama.
Have you had enough change yet? asked one speaker, evoking Obamas campaign slogan.
Pence received a standing ovation for his recounting the House GOPs unanimous decision to vote against the economic stimulus bill.
But the first day of the three-day conference wasnt all about the current officeholders.
Wandering around the hotel in a blue flannel shirt and jeans, presidential campaign favorite Joe the Plumber (Joe Wurzelbacher) waved to a group of young conservatives who shouted, We love you, Joe!
Former Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio), who was attending the conference in his new capacity as a radio host from Talk News Radio Service, was also spotted among conference-goers.
Nearly 9,000 people will attend the event from start to finish the most since it began in 1973, according to CPAC host the American Conservative Union.