Radio talk show host Mark Levin took the stage at Friday morning’s Conservative Political Action Conference with Ronald Reagan on his lips and a plea for conservatives to stop wasting their power and get behind one candidate for President. Clearly he wasn’t speaking of Donald Trump.
Levin, whose Westwood One radio contract was just extended for ten years, immediately invoked Ronald Reagan, who Levin quoted as saying, “The principles of conservatism are sound because they’re based on what men and women have discovered through experience. In not just one generation, or a dozen, but in all the combined experience of mankind.”
Levin went on to criticize those who tell us to forget about Reagan. “So, who are we supposed to remember if we forget about Reagan? The most successful president in modern history, and the most conservative president in modern history.”
Levin then reminded his audience that Reagan spent decades building a party that would stand up for conservative principles and then govern with them.
“We’re told conservatives can’t win. Reagan was a full-throated, principled conservative,” Levin said. “And the Washington establishment, Republican and Democrat, fought him every step of the way, including during his two terms as president.”
The talk show host next made a pointed allusion to today’s primary races by informing his audience that Ronald Reagan is the one who invented the slogan “we will make America great again.”
To further his veiled reference to Donald Trump, the candidate now running on “making America great,” Levin continued saying, “Reagan was not a recent convert to conservatism, he was a long-time advocate for it.”
After spending a few more minutes extolling Ronald Reagan’s conservative policies and great successes, Levin again made oblique references to today’s primary race by pleading for all conservatives to get behind one candidate. Though he didn’t say any names, there was no doubt Levin was talking about lining up behind Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
Saying, “There is nothing to apologize for” with conservatism, Levin criticized those pushing big government policies under the false label of “commonsense conservatism.” Levin called such phrases “nothing more than apologies, and excuses, and tolerance for the growing soft tyranny of centralized government and the acquiescence to it.”
“Nor is conservatism about nationalism or populism,” Levin added, “phrases that have no concrete meaning or Constitutional basis and are more relevant to the French Revolution than the American Revolution.”
“Conservatism is Americanism,” Levin said emphatically. “It’s about patriotism.”
Using Trump’s key campaign phrases and linking them to decidedly non-conservative ideals is telling as to who Levin thinks should be rejected by conservative voters.
Levin went on to praise the work of the Tea Party movement which, starting in 2010, brought a Republican majority to Congress and state legislatures across the country. After the bit of recent history, Levin then rose his voice to say, “Don’t tell me the conservative movement can’t win elections and doesn’t have power.”
But despite the power Tea Party conservatives gave to the GOP, Levin said the party establishment has frittered it all away.
“At the federal level, the Republican Party, now in complete control of both houses of Congress, refuses to truly engage Barack Obama, the most reckless, lawless, imperial president in modern if not all American history,” Levin said.
After reeling off a long list of the outrages committed by Obama, Levin noted that as conservatives we have the best chance in decades to take the White House.
But… “That is, only if we do something we have not done since 1984… nominate a true, known, solid, unapologetic conservative for the presidency of the United States.”
Saying those under 45 have never had a chance to vote for a true conservative for president, Levin went on:
But let me clear. It’s not enough to win the nomination by personally beating down your opponents with such vulgar and ruthlessness, espousing conflicting or ever-changing beliefs, trashing the establishment one day yet bragging about working with them the next, that is playing both insider and outsider, and then expect these dispirit parts of the Republican Party and the conservative movement, having been exploited and turned against each other, to suddenly rally to your cause.
Levin came to his final plea to the CPAC aucidence saying:
Obviously it is a daunting task to defeat the Republican establishment in a race like this. But it’s still not enough. It is the essential first step that must be taken to reach our ultimate goal: the nomination of a principled conservative who we can rely on to try and help restore our Republic and Constitution and who will base every decision that comes to his desk in the Oval Office, every negotiation with Congress and foreign governments, every appointment to every position in the federal government and the federal courts, on securing our liberty and unalienable rights.
You want to make America great again, as Reagan first said, YOU must get behind the most conservative candidate in this race.”
At this point the crowd called out chants of “Cruuuuuz.”
Levin concluded, reiterating that “People for some reason don’t want to talk about Reagan, the most successful president in a century.” And just as he began his time at CPAC, Levin closed with a quote from Ronald Reagan.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org