This weekend I attended most of the 2015 Western Conservative Summit Denver and heard six of our GOP candidates speak. Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, Scott Walker (undeclared) and Ben Carson all spoke to the Summit attendees hoping to convince us that they have what it takes to lead the USA out of the dire straits that we are in. In general, I was pleased with the candidates. Their speeches were focused on what they had to offer and did not speak to other GOP candidates. Each one was given about 20 minutes to speak to the audience and a 10 minute Q & A session followed during which either Byron York or Hugh Hewitt probed a bit more.
At the end of the day on Saturday, I pondered what each had said and the impressions that I was left with. There wasn’t much disagreement in opinion regarding the issues of the day. Perhaps the greatest difference was in experience and in emphasis. Santorum, a former US Senator focused heavily on the family and blue collar jobs. Perry talked of how Texas fared much better than the US as a whole during the past 8 years due to his leadership and agenda. Fiorina’s focus was on foreign policy and fixing the bureaucracy, Walker on his political success under fire, etc. As each spoke of their laundry list of promises, the tone and rhetoric definitely said “political stump speech” to me. That is not intended to be a criticism. It is a crowded field and each wants to impress the crowd with what they have done and what they would do.
One person stood out to me, and others according to the straw poll, as different. Dr Ben Carson introduced himself and acknowledged that he is not the popular candidate of the political class’s leaders and pundits. In fact they are dismissing his candidacy. He mused that they have forgotten the most fundamental principal of our Constitution. Our founding fathers never intended for the United States to be led by a ruling class of political elites. It was intended to be ruled at the pleasure of WE THE PEOPLE. THE PEOPLE will have the final say about whether his candidacy is relevant or not. Carson hit on some of the same themes as the others. Our enemies are laughing at us, our friends have no confidence in us and big government is a poor solution to domestic problems. An overreaching Supreme Court and the deterioration of the family and values were common as well.
Dr. Carson spoke in more detail about our nation in crisis. He got an audible gasp from the crowd when he announced that our nation’s unfunded liabilities are currently over $200 trillion dollars. Dr. Carson was the only candidate to give the full picture and to tell the crowd that it will be difficult to deal with the problems we face but even more difficult if we don’t face them now. What is interesting is that while telling it like it is, the whole story, he didn’t bring the crowd down. He demonstrated the resolve to address these challenges, the approach that we must take and the confidence that we can turn our country around.
Another interesting thing that I noticed about Dr. Carson was his lack of arrogance. By nature, the speeches of politicians are filled with “I have done this and that” and “I will do this and that.” Carson’s focus was on WE THE PEOPLE. Other candidates left me with the impression that if elected we will see what we have seen in past administrations. They will get into office and work on implementing their agendas. From Ben Carson, the clear impression was that if elected, he would lead in the people in taking back the government and re-establishing government OF THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE AND BY THE PEOPLE. He would seek to unify the country behind the hard work of addressing all of the challenges before us, whether fiscal, foreign or domestic. When asked whether he felt it was God’s will that be president he said, ‘we will know that when we see what the people decide.’ I’m convinced. Let’s send Carson to Washington to take the government back for the people.