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May 21, 2015
A packed auditorium at the Peace Center in Greenville, S.C. applauded and cheered a long line of speakers for the fourth annual Freedom Summit, hosted by U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, S.C. Third District, and David Bossie, President of Citizens United.
Announced presidential candidates spoke: Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina, along with likely presidential candidates: Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, and George Pataki, and many other political leaders. Donald Trump, a frequent speaker in political circles, also joined the line up, but most politicos do not consider him a serious contender for elected office.
Popular S.C. elected leaders, Sen. Tim Scott, Reps. Mick Mulvaney and Mark Sanford, and former-Sen. Jim DeMint provided homey throughout the day. The comradery among the S.C. congressional delegation is inspiring and entertaining, especially in the context of debating serious domestic and international concerns. A candidate’s likeability ensures trust with voters in real human terms. Bobby Jindal won the award for the best Mother’s Day story as he humorously told how his third child was surprisingly and quickly born at home.
The goal of the Freedom Summit was to energize the base of the party — consistent Republican primary voters, financial donors, and volunteers. Most of Saturday’s speakers shared similar stances and perspectives to solidify their Republican pedigrees: balanced budget, strong national defense, defeat radical Islamic terrorists, world leadership, leaner tax code, traditional family structure, secure border, and robust economic recovery.
Despite the ailments that the U.S. currently faces, speakers at the Freedom Summit shared an optimistic view. Cruz praised immigrants as “Americans by choice,” quoting Ronald Reagan. Gov. Rick Perry surmised, “Nothing is wrong with America that cannot be fixed with new leadership.”
Other speakers, including Sen. Rick Santorum, Mrs. Carly Fiorina, and Sen. Ted Cruz, reflected the day’s esprit de corps with the consensual opinion that any one of them would be a stronger, more effective president than he who currently occupies the office. “Big government is so crushing that only the wealthy, corrupt, or politically connected can survive,” said Fiorina, a former C.E.O. who worked her way up from an entry-level secretary’s position. “Leaders rise up and change the status quo.”
All the major political players have visited South Carolina at least once in the past year. Newer players Fiorina and Carson used the Freedom Summit to introduce themselves to South Carolina political activists. Political veterans Santorum and Perry refreshed their images and messages.
“The G.O.P., the Great Opportunity Party,” said Duncan, needs to lead the country, because we are “the guardians of [our] own freedom,” quoting Thomas Jefferson. Bossie stressed that the “next round of liberals is worse than Pres. Obama. To quote Edmund Burke, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’”
The program contained plenty of criticism for Pres. Obama and Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton, but most of the rhetoric was focused on how each Republican candidate would address the pertinent issues facing the country. This early in the primary season, goodwill and optimism energize the grassroots, recruit volunteers, and project a confidence to attract donors.