American Conservative Union Chairman Al Cardenas said Thursday the discussions held at CPAC 2013 prove that only Republicans are willing to publicly discuss alternative viewpoints on social issues.
In an interview with Newsmax TV on the day after Ohio Sen. Rob Portman reversed his stance on gay marriage, Cardenas said one of the strengths Republicans have is their willingness to discuss alternative viewpoints within the party ranks.
“I challenge the liberal establishment to show that traditional values are ever discussed. If anyone’s willing to debate, it’s conservatives,” Cardenas said. “I’ve never heard a pro-life argument from a liberal. If you want to talk about tolerance, this is the place you want to be.”
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Friday’s CPAC 2013 slate features former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
“There will be a great mix of faces we already know and new faces making an appearance,” Cardenas said.
One of the highlights of the conference’s first day was the back-to-back keynote speeches by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Cardenas said the scheduling was intentional to give CPAC attendees a good opportunity to compare the two rising Republican stars and their positions.
“It’s no accident that I had them scheduled back to back. I wanted folks who were here and people who watch Newsmax TV to get a good comparison of the two. There’s a lot of similarity, but also contrast in their views. Sen. Rubio is more traditional in his social views and Rand Paul is more consistent in social policy with CPAC,” Cardenas said.
While some have been calling for Republicans to nominate more conservative candidates to have a better chance of winning the White House, Cardenas believes the nomination process itself is the best form of vetting candidates.
“The great news about the nominating process in a country like ours is that usually people earn a nomination, and more than two-thirds of our primary voters are conservatives and Mitt Romney won the nomination,” Cardenas said. “At the end of the day, it’s the voters who, after 20 debates and a year-and-a-half journey, decided he deserved the nomination.”
Cardenas believes the way forward for Republicans is to better articulate its message.
“We need to make sure people clearly understand what we stand for. The Republican Party’s major problem has been in articulation,” Cardenas said. “Many candidates don’t win, not because they’re not conservative enough, but because they’re not articulate enough. We need more folks who connect with voters.”
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