Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) told attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference to “stand up and punch back” after the GOP’s disappointing performance in 2012.
“We had a tough election in November,” McConnell said Friday. “There’s are a lot of lessons to be learned and ideas to look at. But I’m tired of the handwringing. Conservatives were never meant to be part of the crybaby caucus.”
Democrats “didn’t waste much time on a victory lap,” he noted. Republicans needed to be “united and get moving,” and have confidence in their conservative principles. “Don’t let anybody tell you that Democrats have the upper hand on the issues,” he said. “I don’t care what the polls say. “Don’t tell me Republicans are the party of millionaires and billionaires when Obama’s campaign arm [Organizing for Action] is charging people half a million dollars for a meeting over near the White House.”
“Don’t tell me Democrats are the ones looking out for working families,” he continued, when their policies only “ensure that the poor stay poor.”
Republicans needed courageous leaders to lead the charge against liberalism, McConnell said; conservatives who can “articulate the enduring principles of constitutional conservatism” and apply them in the “age of the iPad.” McConnell cited his Kentucky colleague Rand Paul as an example: “He’s a warrior, and we need more warriors.”
However, the GOP needed to win elections in order to implement their policy agenda, not by simply “dropping a policy paper in everybody’s mailbox.” Warnings of the Republican party’s electoral doom were misguided, McConnell said, in part because “liberalism . . . cannot last. It cannot work.”
“I completely reject the notion that we have a winning message for an electorate that doesn’t exist anymore,” he said. “Demographics may shift. But the principles that make for a free and prosperous society never do.”
“It may not seem like it now, but we’re actually winning,” he concluded. “So pick up the gauntlet, my friends, and run.”