Sold out Tea Party events in South Carolina this weekend and Iowa next weekend demonstrate that the conservative grassroots are prepared to put in the time and money needed to back a limited government candidate who can win the Republican Presidential nomination in 2016.
More than 1,200 grassroots activists attended this weekend’s three day South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention in Myrtle Beach, where they heard from four potential Presidential candidates: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Dr. Ben Carson, former Senator Rick Santorum, and Donald Trump.
Remarks by Cruz and Dr. Carson, in particular, caught the attention of the mainstream media.
The Associated Press, which referred to the gathered crowd as “archconservatives,” noted that Cruz asked the crowd to “help nominate a Republican from their own ranks in 2016 or risk losing a third consecutive national election. The unspoken message: someone like him.”
Cruz once again called for the abolition of the Internal Revenue Service, a call that was also made by Dr. Carson.
Carson, who said tax reform was crucial, noted that he would support either a fair tax or a flat tax.
As a retired neurosurgeon with significant experience in health care, Carson was particularly critical of Obamacare, which fails to deliver on either price or quality.
“Government will never control the price [of health care] and they will never control quality,” Dr. Carson told the enthusiastic crowd. Carson noted the 2016 election will be about competing world views.
“Here’s the thing about progressives,” Carson said. “They’re not evil people. They just have a different belief system.”
Firmly articulating a conservative belief system, Carson said, will be crucial to 2016 electoral success for the Republican Party.
Organizer and executive producer Joe Dugan told the gathering their presence shows that the grassroots will play a key role in South Carolina’s 2016 Republican primary, the first in the south this election cycle. Dugan reminded the attendees the impact they had in 2012, when their door knocking and word-of-mouth support helped give Newt Gingrich his only primary victory.
On Breitbart’s Sunday Sirius XM radio program last night, political reporter Matthew Boyle noted that: “Things like this—1,000 to 1,200 grassroots activists gathering on a random weekend—simply didn’t happen a few years ago.” That, Boyle added, “shows the growing power of the movement.”
After Senator Cruz delivered his speech to the enthusiastic crowd, Cruz told Breitbart’s Boyle he was impressed by the energy of the crowd.
“The energy and enthusiasm here is electric,” Cruz told Boyle. “I think people are impassioned to turn our country around. You ask why people are here, the answer is our country is in crisis.
“It is now or never that we turn things around I don’t think we’ve hit the point of no return yet, but we are close.”
As for political policies, Cruz told Boyle “The path we’re on isn’t working.”
Cruz called the Obama economy “a disaster,” Obamacare “a train wreck,” and President Obama’s executive amnesty an example of “lawlessness” that is “unconstitutional and wrong.”
“People are hungry for a change to get back to the free market principles and constitutional liberty that are the foundation of this nation,” Cruz added.
Cruz told Boyle he is looking “very seriously” at running for President in 2016. Support of his potential candidacy among the grassroots and potential donors has been “breathtaking,” Cruz added.
In addition to Cruz, Carson, Santorum, and Trump, several potential presidential candidates who skipped the South Carolina event, including Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, and Scott Walker, will speak at the Iowa event.
Notable in their absence from both the South Carolina and Iowa events are establishment front-runners Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney.
Former Governor Sarah Palin will add her star power to the Iowa event.
One of the most interesting developments at the Iowa event will be seeing how Christie will be received. While his gruff and direct manner appeals to some, his track record of Big Government-friendly policies is troublesome for many grassroots conservatives.
Among the gaffes Christie would have to overcome are his memorable embrace of President Obama in New Jersey just days before the 2012 presidential election, seen by many as a slap at Republican nominee Mitt Romney, and his long record of endorsing establishment candidates over Tea Party candidates in Republican primaries. A prime example of this was his 2014 endorsement of Sen. Lamar Alexander over Tea Party endorsed Joe Carr in Tennessee.
Like the South Carolina event, the Iowa Freedom Summit is seen as the kick-off event of the Iowa 2016 caucus race, which will be held a little more than a year from now, on February 1, 2016. While none of the candidates have yet announced, there is little doubt that the jockeying and positioning for the 2016 Republican nomination has begun.
Breitbart News provided gavel-to-gavel livestreaming of the South Carolina event, and plans on doing the same for next week’s Iowa event.