MANCHESTER, N.H. — The 2016 campaign arrived two years early in New Hampshire this weekend, as Republican politicians pitched their message to the state that hosts the first-in-the-nation primary.
Here’s a look at which political figures and policy issues were hot — and which were not — at the inaugural Freedom Summit, which was sponsored by conservative groups Americans for Prosperity Foundation and Citizens United.
HOT: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
It sure seemed Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Rand Paul were all “in” when it comes to the 2016 campaign. Prior to speaking at the conservative summit, both senators traversed the Granite State to attend Republican rallies, glad-handing with voters and selling their prescription for the Republican Party.
Neither senator has made an official presidential campaign announcement (and they are not likely to for quite a while), but their visit to New Hampshire sure had the feeling of politicians interested in pursuing a run for the White House. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump also made the rounds in New Hampshire this weekend. The early appearances could pay off in a state that values face time with candidates.
NOT: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
Gov. Chris Christie, who’s still dealing with the George Washington Bridge scandal in New Jersey, wasn’t even invited to attend the summit, event organizers told ABC News. Other potential 2016ers were missing from the summit too: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio. Both were lucky enough to score an invite to speak at the conference but decided not to attend.
HOT: NSA Jokes
Jokes about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs abounded at the conservative conference Saturday.
“Please leave your cell phones on. I want to make sure President Obama hears every word I say,” Cruz said to laughter.
Throughout the weekend, Paul argued that privacy issues are key to swaying young people to vote for Republicans, suggesting the topic could be a vulnerable point for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“Obama won the youth vote 3 to 1 but he’s losing them now. Hillary Clinton’s as bad or worse on all of these issues,” Paul said Friday in Dover, N.H. “It’s a way we can transform and make the party bigger or even win again, but we’ve got to be as proud of the Fourth Amendment as much as we are the Second Amendment.”
NOT: Common Core
Calls to repeal the Common Core, uniform education standards adopted by many states across the country, were consistently cheered by Republicans at the New Hampshire meeting Saturday, showing that the issue could be a tricky one should Jeb Bush, who is a strong supporter of the Common Core, decide to run.
Activists also booed Bush’s name when Trump mentioned the former governor’s recent comments that people who immigrated to the country illegally did so out of an “act of love.”