Five Questions at CPAC

Welcome to Five Questions at CPAC. We asked the same five questions to five people at the conservative confab. Here are their condensed answers:


Republican Donor and Philanthropist

Should Republicans Back Immigration Reform?

FF: I think the number one thing Republicans can get behind is one thing- guest worker permits. Forget about all the other issues, what you do with the people here and when you send them back. Everyone pretty well agrees if you catch someone at 6AM in the morning, you send them back at 9AM. Then the question becomes what if you catch them a year later or two years later so there's all kinds of dates as to where he would get sent back. So I think if you minimize those issues and talk on one single issue, like Clinton said 'it's the economy, stupid', if we get guest worker permits as the number one key issue that will drive the inclination of people to embrace our point of view, where the Democrats will oppose that very, very viciously.

SW: Who will be the next president?

FF: Well that will be Rick Santorum for sure.

SS: Why did Mitt Romney lose?

FF: I don't think he lost. He just didn't win.

SW: The Tea Party Dead or Alive?

FF: The Tea Party is going to be very, very critical to our future as a country. It is going to be rejuvenated with a new surge of energy. I think the left's attempt to demonize the party has fallen away a bit, I like to tell a story, 'we're too old to be violent' and I believe the tea party will morph into Freedom Dinners where people will go to a country club or a high end restaurant and have a speaker come in and talk about the issues about how we get the state budgets squared away in terms of shifting from defined benefit to defined contribution plans, so it's not a big problem that builds up. And healthcare has got to be a huge opportunity for states to put pressure to make that happen so the Tea Party will play a huge role in that.

SW: Who's the Democrat you would least like to go up against in 2016?

FF: I think Hillary Clinton is going to be pretty tough. But Michelle Obama wouldn't that be tough? I think the Democrats are so clever. And they know how to communicate, they communicate to the emotions and the heart. Republicans tend to the brain and intellect until we learn their skill set we are going to be at a disadvantage.

Gregg Keller

Executive Director of the American Conservative Union

SW: Should Republicans back immigration reform?

GK: Yeah…our chairman Al Cardenas has said repeatedly and said from the stage again today that what we have right now is de facto amnesty. And that what we have right now in terms of immigration policy just absolutely isn't tenable so yeah I mean I think that the strong case can be made that immigration reform needs to get needs to get done.

SW: Who is going to be the next president?

GK: This is in my own personal capacity not speaking as an employee of the American Conservative Union, I've got a soft spot in my heart for Marco Rubio. I think in a lot of ways he is the future of the Republican party and the conservative movement.

SW: Why did Mitt Romney lose?

GK: That is a tough question! I think candidates need to connect with both people's heads and their hearts, I would have liked to have seen him talk more about who he is as a person, who his family are as people and kind of connect with them emotionally before we get into all these high numbers about how bad the American economy is. I think you need to forge that personal relationship.

SW: The Tea Party, alive or dead?

GK: Alive, very much so.

SW: Who's the Democrat you would least like to go up against in 2016?

GK: Hillary Clinton, praying for Joe Biden - he would lose and lose badly.

Steve Bannon

Executive chairman of Breitbart News Network

SW: Should Republicans back immigration reform?

SB: Yes, absolutely. As long as it's sensible. Look, conservatives and republicans we have to sort out the immigration issue in our country. It's about how we sort it out.

SW: Who will be the next president of the United States?

SB: I'm Palin all in.

SW: Why did Mitt Romney lose?

SB: Governor Romney is a terrific man, a great guy, I think besides the technical problems of the campaign not engaging, I think he didn't run on the issues that could have won: crony capitalism, how the Obama administration is one of the most corrupt in history, one of the most incompetent. He never took the fight to the enemy so besides all the back fighting about the Romney technical ability to do ads, to do data mining, to do all that I think there were far more bigger issues that he didn't take and confront President Obama as he should have and President Obama is a better CEO than Mitt Romney because he ran a better campaign. He had better people working for him, so I think, I hate to say it, I think the best guy won.

SW: The Tea Party, alive or dead?

SB: The Tea Party is not just not dead, but it is at the top of the first inning. The underlying issues about the permanent political, class about crony capitalism about a government that speaks a different language, the governing aristocracy of both parties both Republican and Democrat, that speak a different language than the working men and women in this country is not only still out there, it's only driving more. I think you are going to see the tea party really responding in the primaries of 2014, I think tea party is going to win. The ted Cruzes of the world, the Rand pauls, the Marco Rubios those are the kind of guys that are going to win the Senate nominations and take over the Senate over for the Republican Party… No matter how the mainstream media has tried to dismiss it as a racist, homophobic, nativist organization or movement, it's none of those and it really speaks to the men and women in this country about crony capitalism, corruption, influence, peddling, government out of control.

Alfonso Aguilar

Executive Director, Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles

SW: Should Republicans Back Immigration reform?

AA: Absolutely. And they should do it because of conservative principles. I don't agree with those who say we should embrace immigration, support immigration reform because we have to move to the center or water down our message. I think we have to reclaim this issue because we're conservative, and if we're for the free market, if we're for the family we should be for immigration reform. If American workers cannot find - American employers cannot find American workers they should be able to bring the foreign workers that they need. And that means allowing the free market to work. And if we're for the family we cannot deport millions of people and separate hundreds, thousands of families, so because of conservative principles we should embrace immigration.

SW: Who will be president in 2016?

AA: Oh easy, Marco Rubio.

SW: Why did Mitt Romney lose?

AA: Oh how many hours do we have? He lost because he didn't have a populist economic message. He allowed himself to be branded as a candidate of the rich. When he says things like 47 percent of Americans depend on government benefits leaves the impression that he really doesn't care about the working class so his message wasn't a populist message. He didn't connect…he didn't explain why the conservative message and philosophy is good for the middle class and good for the poor and it's because limited government and fiscal responsibility is good for the economy and good for the middle class…secondly with Hispanics he had a terrible position on immigration from the beginning of the primary and also his rhetoric on immigration was awful. He moderated that language after he was nominated, but it was too late Hispanics had heard what he said during the primary and they weren't willing to support him.

SW: The Tea Party? Alive or dead?

AA: I think it's alive and perhaps it doesn't have the energy it had before, but I think it is there and it can be re-energized any minute.

SW: Who would be the Democrat you would least like to see Rubio run against?

AA: Probably Hillary. That's the only one they have and she's still beatable as well.

Tom Intorocio

Former Santorum aide, author of blog "Who Said? You"

SW: Should Republicans get behind immigration reform?

TI: Yes, with the caveat that the number one concern is to secure the border. So, immigration reform but first secure the border.

SW: Who will be the next president?

TI: That's an extraordinarily difficult question. As you know in the last election we had a movement called "Americans Elect" and so the potential for a third party candidacy is always out there.

SW: I thought you would have said Rick Santorum?

TI: Well I certainly am fully on board with Senator Rick Santorum, but I just, you know, I don't want to be a prognosticator.

SW: Why did Mitt Romney lose?

TI: Well I think the main issue there was turn out. I think that we have to be candid, the Democrats and their alliance organizations did a phenomenal job at turning out their base and we did not replicate that model.

SW: The Tea Party, alive or dead?

TI: Not only alive, pulsing.

SW: Who's the Democrat you would least like to go up against in 2016?

TI: I'm just gonna say Hillary because she's the frontrunner.

John Horvat

Author of "Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society - Where We've Been, How We Got There and Where We Need To Go"

SW: Should Republicans get behind immigration reform?

JH: Immigration reform is a very tricky question, I deal with it actually in my book, I think a balanced immigration is a healthy thing but when immigration becomes extremely overwhelming and it does not have the means to absorb the population then I think it becomes problematic.

SW: Who will be the next president?

JH: I'm not sure it depends upon if the Republicans get their act together and pick a candidate that will defend moral principles, I think anyone like Marco Rubio, Rand Paul…

SW: Why did Mitt Romney lose?

JH: I think because he centered his arguments on simply the economy and didn't get involved in moral issues or the moral issues that he did defend were very- or he defended them very weakly and he didn't mobilize his grassroots.

SW: The Tea Party, alive or dead?

JH: It's alive, I'd say it's very alive.

SW: Who's the Democrat you would least like to go up against in 2016?

JH: Probably Andrew Cuomo.