Rep. Rodgers Hits Obama for Robbing Americans Of Economic Opportunities At CPAC

National Harbor, MD -- A small, but passionate wing of attendees stayed for the fourth day of the Conservative Political Action Conference, where the chairwoman of the House Republican Conference noted how she’s inspired to see all the young conservatives who came to the Washington D.C.-area for CPAC.

She assured the audience that the conservative movement is alive, strong, diverse, and most importantly growing. Given the Republican gains in the 2014 elections, it’s a valid point. She took pride in the fact that the Republican Party has a record majority in the House of Representatives.

The main focus of her speech was grounded in rebuilding the American dream, a point that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker–a potential 2016 presidential candidate–has been making across the country.

Rep. Rodgers said she couldn’t have fathomed being the 200th woman to serve in the House of Representatives, being that she grew up in a small town in eastern Washington, picking fruit on her family farm.

Right now, she said her desire to keep the American dream alive is what makes her proud to be a conservative. She said we must have a “bottom-up” style of conservatism that looks to the future not the past; that trusts the people, not the government with ensuring their financial security and economic stability.

She noted how job creation gives you opportunity, dignity, and a sense of purpose. It gives you something to be proud about.

“We’re defined by our potential,” she said.

She also mentioned that God not only gave all of us life, but liberty as well. At the same time, it doesn’t mean that government won’t try and infringe on those rights. This segued into Rep. Rodgers noting how the top-down, one-size fits all solution approach by liberals doesn’t work–and that the best solution for economic torpor comes from the people.

Rodgers said it’s our diversity that strengthens America. We all come from different backgrounds and life stories, but liberals always believe the answer is more government, and their solutions fall short.

“They’ve confused government with compassion,” she said.

One area of policy she cited in her address was the ABLE Act, a revision of the tax code to allow people with disabilities to establish a tax-free savings account (via the National Down Syndrome Society):

The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2013 (S. 313/H.R.647) was introduced in the 113th Congress by a bipartisan, bicameral set of Congressional Champions including Sens. Robert Casey, Jr., (D-PA) and Richard Burr (R-NC), and Reps. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and Pete Sessions (R-TX).

The ABLE Act would amend Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service Code of 1986 to create tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. The bill aims to ease financial strains faced by individuals with disabilities by making tax-free savings accounts available to cover qualified expenses such as education, housing, and transportation. The bill would supplement, but not supplant, benefits provided through private insurances, the Medicaid program, the supplemental security income program, the beneficiary’s employment, and other sources.

An ABLE account could fund a variety of essential expenses for individuals, including medical and dental care, education, community based supports, employment training, assistive technology, housing, and transportation. The ABLE Act provides individuals with disabilities the same types of flexible savings tools that all other Americans have through college savings accounts, health savings accounts, and individual retirement accounts. The legislation also contains Medicaid fraud protection against abuse and a Medicaid pay-back provision when the beneficiary passes away. It will eliminate barriers to work and saving by preventing dollars saved through ABLE accounts from counting against an individual’s eligibility for any federal benefits program.

This issue strikes at home since Rep. Rodgers has a son, Cole, who was born with Down syndrome.

Nevertheless, as she concluded her speech, the congresswoman wasn’t shy about hitting Barack Obama’s economic record, alleging that his policies have robbed millions of Americans from tremendous opportunities–like the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Farewell From CPAC: Rand Paul Declared Straw Poll Winner

CPAC has officially ended after an event-filled four days.

Scores of presumptive GOP presidential candidates showed up to make the obligatory rounds, delivering speeches and answering tough questions on the main stage of the Potomac Ballroom. Most candidates performed skillfully or exceeded expectations. Some of them, however, felt more at home than others.

Which naturally brings us to CPAC's annual straw poll results. As it happens, polls were open to all registered attendees and conference participants. And while the results do not necessarily represent public opinion outside the conference (nearly half of respondents were between the ages of 18 and 25), it’s worth noting that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has been declared the winner for the third year in a row. He earned 26 percent of the vote.

Scott Walker (21 percent) and Ted Cruz (12 percent) finished in second and third place, respectively. There were 3,007 total participants.

Parting reminder: Townhall Media was busy this week interviewing members of Congress and state governors as well as participating in panels and promoting forthcoming new books. Follow the links to learn more.

Will Christians Soon Need to Leave Their Faith at Home?

Bakers are being forced to bake wedding cakes for gay couples, students are being punished for speaking up for their faith in schools and our soldiers are even being denied the opportunity to read their bibles. Is the kind of freedom loving culture our Founding Fathers envisioned?

Cal Thomas, who moderated the Conservative Political Action Conference's Saturday morning panel entitled "Religious Freedom in America: Would the Pilgrims Still Be Welcome Here?," greeted the crowd as "fundamental bigots." Why? Because that's how the media often refers to anyone who believes in religious freedom, he explained. Included on the panel were radio host Dana Loesch, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, and Representative Randy Neugebauer (TX-19).

Thomas asked the panelists to pinpoint the biggest threats to religious freedom.

"Apathy," said Loesch. "We need to lead better by example, Christians have always led. But, in the last 15 years there's been a lot of apathy."

Going to church on Sunday, she added, is not good enough.

Tony Perkins's answer also sounded like a warning.

"The loss of religous freedom," he said. "People are losing their businesses because they're refusing to leave their faith at home."

"Our future is only as bright as our religious freedom is," he remarked. "It requires personal effort and action."

Even though the Ten Commandments are being driven out by the courts, pray at home, he said.

"We should be able to take it into the workplace."

Loesch said defending religious freedom is not solely beneficial to those of the Christian faith.

"You don't have to be a Christian to be affected by the loss of religious liberty...More liberties may be taken."

In addition to speaking up for faith and freedom, Rep. Neugebauer said legislative efforts are also being made to protect rights of Americans, including those of our military.

"We're writing letters to the Secretary of Defense for soldiers to have the right to sit down with chaplains," he shared.

Unfortunately, bibles are still being banned from the hands of our nation's finest.

"It's political correctness," Neugebauer said. "We're denying soldiers the opportunities to read their bibles and protect their faith.

"It's time to make Christians a protected class," said Loesch.

All is not lost concerning traditonal values, however. Perkins shared a statistic from Rasmussen Reports, which revealed 61 percent of Americans do not think the Supreme Court should impose same sex marriage on the entire nation and should leave it to the states. Although gay marriage and other progressive issues are gaining traction, that doesn't mean those who want to defend conservative values should be cornered and silenced.

"We should not be forced to quarantine our faith," said Perkins.

Loesch emphasized Perkins' message and insisted that we can't rely on politicians to steer America into the right direction. "The government is morally bankrupt," she said. "We can't just switch out people - change has to come from us."

This is especially true when considering Christians cannot even look to their president for guidance.

Anyone who lives by their faith was likely offended by Obama's comments at this year's National Prayer Breakfast, when he likened Islamic terrorism to the Christian crusades.

The president professes to be a Christian, said Perkins, but not in practice.

So, what's next for our country if the religious standard continues to evaporate and there's no hope for revival?

"Religious figures will be targeted, dragged into court for what they're saying," Loesch said. "You will have to keep your faith at home."

Cal Thomas suggested such persecution is already reality for some of today's Christians. In Houston, for instance, the mayor tried to subpoena pastors for their supposedly bigoted sermons. The mayor dropped the bid earlier this week.

"If we lose our religious liberty, we lose the country," said Neugebauer.

Perkins offered one final call to action for Christians, suggesting that there is at least one category they should be happy to be placed in.

"It's so important we preserve that freedom, that we not grow silent," he said. "I think we shoud all join Ben Carson on the list of extremists."

Analysis: How Potential 2016 Contenders Fared at CPAC

A brief review of CPAC speeches with potential 2016 implications, listed in chronological order:

Ben Carson: A good choice to kick off the conference on Thursday morning, drawing a large, enthusiastic crowd. Carson didn't disappoint his legions of grassroots admirers, hammering on the failures of big government liberalism, and calling for the abolishment of the IRS. (Speaking of the IRS, is anyone surprised by this development?)

Chris Christie: Though Rand Paul supporters booed his name on Friday, Christie was well-received by a large crowd on Thursday afternoon. He opted for a Q&A format, responding to tough but fair questioning from conservative radio host Laura Ingraham. I tend to agree with Breitbart's John Sexton, who thinks Christie helped himself overall. The governor dismissed concerns over his low polling numbers (nationally and at home), noting that the election isn't "next week," and vowing to run a spirited, aggressive campaign if and when he gets in. Asked what he gave up for lent, Christie joked that he tried to deprive himself of the New York Times, but his priest nixed that idea as hardly sacrificial. The Times, incidentally, lived up to Christie's allegations of bias, describing the CPAC ballroom as dotted with "many empty seats" during his presentation.  Most other outlets accurately called the room a "full house," or "mostly packed."

Carly Fiorina: One of the breakout stars of the conference, the former CEO and Senate candidate drew loud applause for her direct, unapologetic salvos against Hillary Clinton's foreign policy record.  One could almost sense an instant consensus forming that Fiorina would be an asset on the GOP debate stage.  Fairly or unfairly, it's helpful to have a conservative woman taking the aggressive rhetorical fight to Hillary Clinton.

Ted Cruz: Unsurprisingly, Texas' junior Senator was greeted very warmly by attendees, breezing through a friendly back-and-forth with Sean Hannity after delivering some opening remarks.  Cruz cracked that CPAC could have featured a speech from Hillary Clinton, but they couldn't "find a foreign nation to foot the bill."  A very solid burn.

Scott Walker: The Walker buzz is real.  The room was packed and raucous for the governor's remarks; he had the feel of a top-tier candidate, if not a frontrunner.  Walker's address started off a bit forced and shouty, almost as if he was trying to hard to shake off the (lazy) conventional wisdom knock that he's "boring" or "bland."  He seemed conversant on foreign policy, but the speech didn't hit its stride until the passage about his tremendous accomplishments in Wisconsin -- including the all-but-guaranteed implementation of Right to Work legislation.  Walker shined brightest when he swatted aside a pro-union heckler who interrupted his speech.  His lowest moment came in an answer on ISIS.  Despite his intentions, his phrasing came across as unfair, crass and demagogic.  With the 'gotcha' media hungry for gaffes to exploit, Walker needs to learn from this experience.

Bobby Jindal: The Louisiana governor focused on three issues: Repealing Obamacare in its entirety (chiding Congressional Republicans for policy incoherence and cowardice), rolling back Common Core, and fighting radical Islamic terrorism.

Marco Rubio:  Sounding very much like a presidential candidate, the Florida Senator cast Hillary Clinton as a relic of the past, assured conservatives that he's learned his lesson on immigration, and highlighted his extraordinary American story.  This line is especially moving.  National Review's Charles Cooke summed up the case for Rubio, calling him the best communicator in the Republican Party, who's also knowledgeable on policy substance.

Rick Perry: Perhaps the most intriguing of the 'reboot' candidates, Perry subtly poked fun at his most infamous 2012 stumble by introducing -- and executing -- a three-pronged argument.

John Bolton: The no-nonsense former UN ambassador unleashed a relentless, detailed critique of Hillary Clinton's foreign policy.

Rand Paul: The libertarian-leaning Republican drew a huge crowd of young, eager supporters who cheered and chanted throughout the Kentucky Senator's address.  Paul talked about the importance of national security, but warned that America must not lose its values in that pursuit.  He criticized Obamacare and President Obama's illegal executive amnesty (a common theme throughout the conference), closing with a rousing pro-liberty appeal. During the question-and-answer session, Paul confirmed that his "bad" hair is, in fact, real, drawing laughter and applause.

Rick Santorum: Last cycle's second-place finisher focused primarily on foreign policy and national security issues, heavily criticizing the Obama administration over the Netanyahu flap (also a popular line of attack throughout CPAC).

Jeb Bush: In a highly-anticipated appearance, the former Florida Governor performed ably during an extended exchange with Sean Hannity, who pressed Bush on immigration and Common Core.  Team Jeb bused in some supporters for the event, perhaps to counter the rumored walk-out by Paul backers.  Bush ended up being welcomed with a standing ovation from most attendees, though some of his answers elicited a smattering of boos and disgruntled shouts.  The walk-out mostly fizzled, drawing a tiny fraction of the audience.  The establishment favorite and prolific fundraiser presented himself as a forward-looking, reform-minded conservative, tailoring his answers on certain hot-button issues to the conservative audience -- but without backing down from controversial positions.  Bush said that his priority is to show voters that he really cares about improving people's lives.

Less likely 2016 entrants Mike Pence, Sarah Palin, Donald Trump also addressed the conference. I'll leave you with my Thursday afternoon Fox News appearance from CPAC, during which I (shamelessly) donned my End of Discussion pin:

PSA: Scott Walker Isn’t Telling Colleges To Stop Reporting Rape

Rape on America’s college campuses is one of the many issues that get the feminist left into a frenzy. That’s not to say that sexual assault isn't a serious issue–it is. But, the data is shoddy, and there is a case to be made that the new guidelines in combating rape on campus is an infringement on the rights of men in America.

Yet, since it’s one of the issues that animates the progressive base of the liberal America, what better way to strike at Gov. Scott Walker–a possible 2016 presidential candidate–by trying to say he wants colleges to stop reporting rape. There’s only one problem: it isn’t true.

Yesterday, the lefty-feminist site Jezebel reported that the governor had included this new policy in his proposed budget this year:

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's proposed budget—which would cut $300 million dollars out of the state's beloved public university system—has a non-fiscal bombshell tucked in between its insane pages.

Under Walker's budget, universities would no longer have to report the number of sexual assaults that take place on a campus to the Department of Justice. Under Walker's plan, university employees who witness a sexual assault would no longer have to report it.

There are no policy recommendations in Walker's budget how or what would replace these reporting mechanisms. The Governor simply instructs that they should be deleted.

As the election cycle drags on you will be able to tick off the boxes on Scott Walker's CONSERVATIVE STRONG MAN card. Count this as the first of many boxes.

The Daily Beast described the language as “shocking,” reporting that the state’s attorney general had reservations about the proposal, and even spoke with University of Wisconsin students about this phantom issue:

One of the state universities, the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater, is already being investigated by the Department of Education for violating Title IX with its failure to investigate and respond to campus sexual assault.

Furthermore, even Republican Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel has expressed reservations about Walker’s proposal. His office told The Daily Beast in a statement that the Attorney General “is concerned about some of the provisions in the budget that may reduce information provided to college students and take away reporting requirements. He will work with representatives from UW and the Governor’s office to determine what prompted these changes and to ensure that we provide all of the protection we reasonably can for our college students.”

Regardless of whether Walker’s proposal will eventually take effect, both male and female students the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the flagship institution of the state—are already disappointed and concerned.

Senior Marina Oliver believes removing reporting mechanism can only hurt students.

“Deleting any form of mandatory sexual assault reporting can only open up cracks for information to slip through, or allow for a cloak of ambiguity,” Oliver said in an email to The Daily Beast. “In a time when sexual assault on campus is such a painful and prevalent issue, we need way more clarity and responsibility at all levels—university, state, and federal—not less.”

Well, actually, it was the University of Wisconsin that asked Walker to remove the redundant provision since they’re already required under federal law (Clery Act) to report rapes on their campus (via AP):

The University of Wisconsin requested that Gov. Scott Walker remove a requirement that all 26 campuses report allegations of sexual assaults to the state every year because it already submits similar information to the federal government, a UW spokesman said Friday.

The proposal to delete the annual reports to the state Department of Justice is among dozens of requirements that would be removed as part of Walker’s plan to decouple the university from most state laws and state oversight. Though the budget proposal came out earlier this month, the sex assault request was explained in a summary released Thursday by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

UW System spokesman Alex Hummel said Friday that the university requested the change because information given to the state is duplicative of data required to be reported to the U.S. Department of Education under federal law. The university also posts the information on its website.

Oh, and the draconian $300 million dollar cut is about 2.5 percent of the university system’s entire budget. Again, this is another attempt to derail Gov. Walker’s potential 2016 ambitions. The university system asked Walker to remove the provision, there is no issue with Title IX, and there is no “legal line” that is in danger of being crossed.

Obama White House In Full Panic Mode Over Netanyahu Speech

The Obama White House has spent weeks in panic over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's appearance before Congress this coming week. Yesterday the New York Times reported that White House officials are attempting to "rebut" Netanyahu's speech four days before it is actually going to happen.

Netayahu is expected to criticize any deal-making with the Iranian regime.

Just four days before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a joint meeting of Congress, the Obama administration sought on Friday to refute the Israeli leader’s expected critique, arguing that he has failed to present a feasible alternative to American proposals for constraining Iran’s nuclear program.

In a briefing for reporters, senior administration officials contended that even an imperfect agreement that kept Iran’s nuclear efforts frozen for an extended period was preferable to a breakdown in talks that could allow the leadership in Tehran unfettered ability to produce enriched uranium and plutonium.

The Obama White House might see a deal with Iran over "inspections" and their nuclear arms program as a major milestone - even a 'legacy' issue - so they want Congress to be in line. But Netanyahu obviously has a lot of concerns over dealing with the Iranian regime.

Cruz: Leave the Internet to the People

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) criticized the Federal Communications Commission's rules on net neutrality as an overreach of unchecked bureaucratic power on Thursday.

“Today, the FCC decided to take over the Internet,” Cruz said. “You should feel real excited because at Barack Obama's instructions, 5 unelected bureaucrats have now declared the Internet is a public utility.”

The FCC voted yesterday to adopt the “Open Internet Order,” designed to ensure equal treatment of legal content on the Internet. The rules were neither publicly released, nor openly debated before adopted by the Commission.

“Net neutrality is Obamacare for the Internet,” Cruz said, sparking boos from the crowd. “The FCC's new rules for the Internet are 332 pages that you and I are not allowed to read – I think their strategy is that you have to pass it to find out what's in it.”

The new regulations are a violation of First Amendment rights, the 2016 hopeful explained at an event sponsored by Breitbart News at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

“The Internet has been a haven for free speech,” he said. “Today with the Internet, you can start a blog right now that a million people read... Dan Rather was a master of the universe until some bloggers in pajamas said wait a second, what this guy's saying ain't true! Talk about power for the citizen.”

Cruz remarked that true freedom on the Internet isn't government intervention, but leaving citizens to use the web without regulations controlling content.

“What has made it work is we have kept politicians and government the heck away from it. Here's what we need to do with the Internet: don't tax it, don't regulate it, don't do nothin' – leave it to the people!”

Gov. Bobby Jindal on Common Core and a Presidential Run

Townhall's Christine Rousselle spoke with Governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal at CPAC 2015.

PPP: Public Split On Whether Williams Should Return To NBC

The controversy surrounding Brian Williams and his non-“RPG hit my helicopter” story might not have impacted NBC’s favorability numbers with the public, but it has hurt Williams personally. In a D+6 poll by the left-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP), 31 percent of viewers have a positive opinion of him, 39 percent have a negative one. Moreover, there’s a split between whether he should be allowed to return to the anchor’s desk, or if he should be shown the exit–immediately; 39 percent think he should be reinstated, while 36 percent say fire him.

The poll also noted two other things. If the interim anchor of Nightly News, Lester Holt, replaces Brian Williams, likability won’t be much of a factor since both Williams and Holt have the same favorability numbers. At the same time, Holt doesn’t have nearly as many haters as Williams:

Voters are evenly divided, with 40% saying they trust NBC News and 40% saying they don't. Those numbers are virtually identical to what we found on the 2014 iteration of this poll, when 39% said they trusted NBC and 39% said they didn't.

Even though the controversy hasn't affected perceptions of NBC much overall, it's definitely impacted feelings about Williams. 31% of voters have a positive opinion of him to 39% with a negative one. There's close division about whether he should be able to return- 39% say yes while 36% think he should be fired. There are big partisan divides in attitudes towards Williams. Among Democrats 52% think he should be allowed to come back to just 24% who believe he should be fired. But among Republicans only 32% support his return with 45% saying he should be let go.

If NBC does decide to replace Brian Williams with Lester Holt they won't see much of a drop off in popularity. Holt's favorability rating of 30% falls just below Williams' 31%, but he doesn't have near the quantity of voters who dislike him with only 15% giving him a negative rating to Williams' 39%.

The rest of the poll was grounded in partisan trust of media outlets. Shocker; more Republicans hate MSNBC than do Democrats who actually like the network. Democrats are also more likely to trust ABC, NBC, PBS, MSNBC, CNN, and NBC News. Less than 25 percent of Republicans can’t say the same, though they’re split 37/39 regarding trust and distrust of PBS.

Phil Robertson on Faith, the Founding Fathers, and STDs

Believe it or not, Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson actually managed to discuss each of these items, at length I might add, during a speech on Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Robertson was there to accept the Andrew Breitbart Defender of Free Speech Award. 

"All of us ought to be able to speak freely so we don't have to be awarded," he began his speech before pulling out a large, weathered-looking family Bible bound together with duct tape. 

"I'm a God-loving, Bible-believing, gun-toting capitalist," he declared, before delving into other topics, such as the Founding Fathers, STDs, marriage, ISIS, and the moral decline of America. 

While Robertson's speech was unpredictable, long, and a bit strange at times, he did make many valuable points, particularly about religion's role in America today. 

Addressing criticisms he hears that he's "too religious," Robertson pulled several quotes from our Founding Fathers that showed how important religion was in not only their personal lives, but in guiding the decisions they made as politicians. 

"[I]t is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue," he read, quoting John Adams. 

"You lose your religion and you lose your morality and we're almost there," he said before going into a tangent about how 110 million Americans now have an STD. Diseases he referred to as "revenge of the hippies." 

The "safe" option, he argued, was "one man, one woman, married for life." 

Robertson concluded (because the event's organizers finally had to begin blasting 'exit' music) by talking about the importance of having God-fearing politicians in office. 

"If you don't have spiritual men making political decisions, you're going to lose this country," he said.  

"Presidential Madness": Salem All Stars Debate 2016 Candidates

National, Harbor, MD -- On Friday afternoon, Salem Media Group hosted a five-person, break out session at CPAC with Townhall’s Political Editor Guy Benson titled “Presidential Madness: The Road to Sweet 16.” Ed Morrissey, Erick Erickson, Mary Katharine Ham, and Katie Pavlich, all of whom write for websites under the Townhall Media empire, weighed in and discussed the pros and cons of 16 different potential 2016 GOP hopefuls. Check out the bracket below:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

To be clear, none of the panelists endorsed candidates—as this was, as Benson put it, merely a “fun” exercise. There were, however, some interesting issues raised. Most intriguing to some attendees, perhaps, was the impending candidacy of Dr. Ben Carson. Does his lack of political experience disqualify him for the nation’s highest office, Benson asked the panel, or can he navigate a path to the nomination despite having never served in government?

Mary Katharine Ham offered some cautious analysis.

“I don’t like to say disqualifying,” she intoned. “I think the problem Carson is going to have is one of a disciplined message.” She added that, while he is a tea party darling and capable messenger, his delivery can sometimes veer off track.

“He’s an electric speaker, people gravitate towards him, but that electricity can ultimately shock,” she added. “So he has to be careful.”

He also addressed what one might call the inevitable “senators vs. governors” dilemma. That is to say, how do relatively inexperienced federal legislators—like Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), for example—convince grassroots activists they are more qualified to be president than seasoned and proven state chief executives?

“Everyone knows that governors are usually better presidential candidates than senators,” Townhall's Katie Pavlich said. “Because they often have to negotiate with people on the other side of the aisle. [They] have to come to terms with getting things done in their state.”

“So although we have these incredible candidates in the Senate who quite possibly might be running for president,” she added, “they are brand new.”

She pointed out that leaders like Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) have tangible and impressive accomplishments attached to their names, which might give them an advantage early in the nomination process.

Still, Hot Air's Ed Morrissey underscored an X factor that could alter the dynamics of the race.

“We are seeing in both parties a real impulse for populism, and significantly, anti-establishment populism,” he said. This is why primarygoers may take a hard look at candidates a la Sens. Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz, he suggested, despite their relatively thin resumes. This is also a reason why Hillary Clinton may struggle in the general election, he said.

“She is the ultimate Washington insider,” Morrissey continued, a point RedState’s Erick Erickson quickly seconded. Erickson, however, went a step further, and actually predicted Hillary Clinton will lose the Democratic nomination in 2016.

“I do not think that Hillary Clinton will be able to run a machine, and figure out what the rest of the party hasn’t,” he said. That [base of support] is not the Democratic coalition; it is Barack Obama’s coalition. And good luck letting the Secretary of State run as the world goes to hell in a hand basket—and she has to own it.”

“I think Hillary’s absolutely running and will be the nominee and is probably the nominee at this moment in time,” Benson later added. “But she’s going to keep coming back to the raison d'etre of her campaign, which is ‘woman.’ It’s going to be a gender election.”

At the end of the discussion, the panelists were asked to weigh in on potential 2016 presidential tickets. The following are the match ups they found “most intriguing”:*

Ed: Scott Walker, Susana Martinez

Erick: Marco Rubio, Susana Martinez

Mary Katharine: Scott Walker, Susana Martinez

Katie: Scott Walker, Susana Martinez

Guy: Scott Walker, Marco Rubio or “something like” Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz

*These are not endorsements.

Boehner's Gambit Fails

The House of Representatives rejected a three-week funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security Friday, creating the possibility for a limited shutdown of the agency starting at midnight Friday night.

Earlier in the day, the Senate passed a DHS funding that fully funds both of President Obama's executive immigration programs through the end of September.

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) had hoped to pass his three-week DHS funding bill, which would stop Obama's amnesty programs, thus giving time for a conference committee between the Senate and House bills.

More than 50 Republicans joined with Democrats to vote no against Boehner's short-term bill while just 12 Democrats voted with Republicans. The finally tally was 203-224.

The House is now currently in recess while Boehner's team figures out their next move. But the most likely outcome is a House vote on the Senate DHS bill which would most likely pass with unanimous Democratic support.

You can see which Republican senators voted with Democrats to fund Obama's amnesty here.

You can see which Republicans voted against a short-term DHS bill here.

It’s No Big Deal, But Top Hillary Advisers Knew Right Away That Benghazi Was A Terrorist Attack

The Select Committee on Benghazi was established and recently extended last month. The five Democrats on the committee were irked that the vote on reauthorization in early January pretty much gave the body an unlimited amount of time and money to investigate the circumstances of the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, who were killed in a terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012 (via NYT):

The move to reauthorize the politically charged panel was included in a rules package for the new Congress that passed 234 to 172, mostly along party lines.

Five Democrats on the select committee lamented the reauthorization, which set no limit on the committee's budget or time frame, which means it could last well into the presidential election year. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a possible Democratic presidential candidate, could be called to testify about the attack, which occurred while she was secretary of state.

A report by the House Intelligence Committee found that the CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack. Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the panel determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.

The panel will probably be reviewing the latest FOIA request from Judicial Watch that revealed top Clinton advisers immediately that Benghazi was a terrorist attack: [bold text represents email exchanges]

On September 11, 2012, at 4:07 PM, Maria Sand (who was then a Special Assistant to Mrs. Clinton) forwarded an email from the State Department’s Operations Center entitled “U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi is Under Attack (SBU) [Sensitive But Unclassified]” to Cheryl Mills (then-Chief of Staff), Jacob Sullivan (then-Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy), Joseph McManus (then-Hillary Clinton’s Executive Assistant), and a list of other Special Assistants in the Secretary’s office:

The Regional Security Officer reports the diplomatic mission is under attack. Tripoli reports approximately 20 armed people fired shots; explosions have been heard as well. Ambassador Stevens, who is currently in Benghazi, and four COM [Chief of Mission] personnel are in the compound safe haven. The 17th of February militia is providing security support.

On September 11, 2012, 4:38 PM, State Department Foreign Service Officer Lawrence Randolph forwarded Mills, Sullivan and McManus an email from Scott Bultrowicz, who was the former director of the Diplomatic Security Service (ousted following review of the attack), with the subject line, “Attack on Benghazi 09112012”:

DSCC received a phone call from [REDACTED] in Benghazi, Libya initially stating that 15 armed individuals were attacking the compound and trying to gain entrance. The Ambassador is present in Benghazi and currently is barricaded within the compound. There are no injuries at this time and it is unknown what the intent of the attackers is. At approximately 1600 DSCC received word from Benghazi that individuals had entered the compound. At 1614 RSO advised the Libyans had set fire to various buildings in the area, possibly the building that houses the Ambassador [REDACTED] is responding and taking fire.

Nearly seven hours later, at 12:04 am, on September 12, Randolph sends an email with the subject line “FW: Update 3: Benghazi Shelter Location Also Under Attack” to Mills, Sullivan, and McManus that has several updates about the Benghazi attack:

I just called Ops and they said the DS command center is reporting that the compound is under attack again. I am about to reach out to the DS Command Center.

This email also contains a chain of other, earlier email updates:

September 11, 2012 11:57 PM email: “(SBU) DS Command reports the current shelter location for COM personnel in Benghazi is under mortar fire. There are reports of injuries to COM staff.”

September 11, 2012 6:06 PM (Subject: “Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack (SBU): “(SBU) Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and call for an attack on Embassy Tripoli”

September 11, 2012, 4:54 PM: “Embassy Tripoli reports the firing at the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi has stopped and the compound has been cleared. A response team is on site to locate COM personnel.”

The DOS emails reveal the first official confirmation of the death of Ambassador Stevens. On September 12, 2012, 3:22 AM, Senior Watch Officer Andrew Veprek forwarded an email to numerous State Department officials, which was later forwarded to Cheryl Mills and Joseph McManus, with the subject line “Death of Ambassador Stevens in Benghazi”:

Embassy Tripoli confirms the death of Ambassador John C. (Chris) Stevens in Benghazi. His body has been recovered and is at the airport in Benghazi.

Two hours later, Joseph McManus forwards the news about Ambassador Stevens’ death to officials in the State Department Legislative Affairs office with instructions not to “forward to anyone at this point.”

Despite her three top staff members being informed that a terrorist group had claimed credit for the attack, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, issued an official statement, also produced to Judicial Watch, claiming the assault may have been in “a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.”

Cheryl Mills asks that the State Department stop answering press inquiries at 12:11 am on September 12, despite the ongoing questions about “Chris’ whereabouts.” In an email to State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland, Jacob Kennedy, and Phillipe Reines (then-Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Strategic Communications and Senior Communications Advisor), Mills writes:

Can we stop answering emails for the night Toria b/c now the first one [Hillary Clinton’s “inflammatory material posted on the Internet” statement] is hanging out there.

Earlier in the chain of emails, Nuland told Mills, Sullivan, and Patrick Kennedy (Under Secretary of State for Management) that she “ignored” a question about Ambassador Steven’s status and whereabouts from a CBS News Reporter.

In 2013, eyebrows were raised when it was discovered that the Obama administration scrubbed some information from the talking points, revising them twelve times. Susan Rice, then-Ambassador to the UN, delivered the final set when she did the Sunday morning talk shows, which omitted references to the al-Qaeda affiliated Ansar al-Sharia and CIA warnings about terrorist activity in the area in the months before the assault (via ABC News) [bold text indicates writings of then-State Dept. Spokesperson Victoria Nuland]:

ABC News has obtained 12 different versions of the talking points that show they were extensively edited as they evolved from the drafts first written entirely by the CIA to the final version distributed to Congress and to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice before she appeared on five talk shows the Sunday after that attack.

White House emails reviewed by ABC News suggest the edits were made with extensive input from the State Department. The edits included requests from the State Department that references to the Al Qaeda-affiliated group Ansar al-Sharia be deleted as well references to CIA warnings about terrorist threats in Benghazi in the months preceding the attack.

That would appear to directly contradict what White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said about the talking points in November.

“Those talking points originated from the intelligence community. They reflect the IC’s best assessments of what they thought had happened,” Carney told reporters at the White House press briefing on November 28, 2012. “The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of those two institutions were changing the word ‘consulate’ to ‘diplomatic facility’ because ‘consulate’ was inaccurate.”

Summaries of White House and State Department emails — some of which were first published by Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard — show that the State Department had extensive input into the editing of the talking points.

State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland raised specific objections to this paragraph drafted by the CIA in its earlier versions of the talking points:

The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al-Qa’ida in Benghazi and eastern Libya. These noted that, since April, there have been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the British Ambassador’s convoy. We cannot rule out the individuals has previously surveilled the U.S. facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the attacks.”

In an email to officials at the White House and the intelligence agencies, State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland took issue with including that information because it “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either? Concerned …”

The paragraph was entirely deleted.

Like the final version used by Ambassador Rice on the Sunday shows, the CIA’s first drafts said the attack appeared to have been “spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo” but the CIA version went on to say, “That being said, we do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack.” The draft went on to specifically name the al Qaeda-affiliated group named Ansar al-Sharia.

The latest foray of this administration tripping over itself badly was when they tried to explain how Obama’s remarks about parts of the horrific Paris shootings being "random," specifically the attack on the Kosher deli, last January wasn't a big deal.

Friday Filibuster: Preparing to Punt

The Friday Filibuster: The one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about this week in politics. 

Closing Numbers:

19% of Texans would choose Gov. Scott Walker for the GOP presidential nominee—one percentage point shy of Sen. Ted Cruz.

21 – the number of Coptic Christians who were recognized by the church as martyrs after being beheaded by ISIS.

70% of Americans view Israel very favorably.

19% of likely U.S. voters think America and its allies are winning the War on Terror.

27% of British Muslims sympathize with the Charlie Hebdo shooters.

81% is PETA’s shelter kill rate in Virginia.

25% of the Iowa Republican Caucus would choose Gov. Scott Walker as their presidential candidate, leading the pack.

DHS & Immigration

Senate Republicans caved earlier this week in the DHS funding/executive amnesty fight, which paved the way for passage today in the upper chamber of a ‘clean’ DHS funding bill, 68-31, that would keep the department running through Sept. 30. The House, meanwhile, is closing in on approving a short-term spending bill that would avert a partial shutdown. The House had already passed a bill that fully funds DHS with the exception of Obama’s amnesty programs, but Senate Democrats filibustered the introduction of that legislation on multiple occasions, which prevented it from being debated or amended in the upper chamber. Meanwhile, another federal judge struck down one of Obama’s executive actions on immigration that helped end a wave of illegal immigration from Central American countries last summer.

Other Major Stories:

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to confirm AG nominee Loretta Lynch, so her full confirmation vote now heads to the entire Senate. Earlier this week, more than 50 House Republicans sent a letter to the Committee urging a vote to block her confirmation.

Meanwhile, if you like what Obamacare has done to health care, you’ll love what the Federal Communications Commission is about to do to the Internet. The Commission narrowly passed ‘net neutrality’ regulations on Thursday, which is supposed to guarantee "free and open access to the internet."

Finally, President Obama vetoed the Keystone XL Pipeline, just as he threatened he would.

Townhall Exclusives:

I had the chance to catch up with Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel to hear about the state’s new Online Checkbook, which allows citizens, journalists, and lawmakers alike to browse through more than $408 billion in state spending over seven fiscal years.

Cortney spoke with actor Ted McGinley about his role in a new faith-based film “Do You Believe?”

Townhall managing editor Kevin Glass explains on video the downside of news that the deficit is expected to drop to the lowest point it’s been since Obama took office.

CPAC exclusive interviews:

Ambassador John Bolton

Rep. Mia Love

Carly Fiorina

Gov. Bobby Jindal

Check out our Townhall Media YouTube page for the latest out of CPAC this week and more.

Gov. Bobby Jindal Talks Common Core, Obamacare, and ISIS in CPAC Speech

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) stuck to three big themes during his speech yesterday at CPAC: Obamacare must be repealed, Common Core and the federal government have no business in the classroom, and radical Islam is a dangerous threat to America that needs to be handled by a competent leader.

Jindal emphasized that "we must repeal every single word of Obamacare," and hit on Republicans in Congress for "waving the white flag of surrender" on amnesty and Obamacare. Jindal made it clear that the 2014 elections were about "taking our country back," which, according to the governor, begins once Obamacare is repealed.

Jindal's focus then shifted to Common Core, and he noted that he's suing the federal government over the regulations. He said that he believes that parents and teachers at the local level do a far better job of dictating curriculum content than the federal government does. Additionally, Jindal was concerned as to what would happen if Common Core standards were applied to the U.S. History curriculum, saying that American exceptionalism would be replaced with victimization.

Jindal's third point was the threat of ISIS and other radical Islamic groups throughout the world, saying that Americans need to face the reality of "the evil that is radical Islamic terrorism." He criticized President Obama's failure to properly identify radical Islam as the motivating force behind ISIS, and said that he was "tired of hyphenated Americans"--meaning that he feels as though identifying as a united American population is more beneficial than dividing amongst ethnic backgrounds.

As for 2016, Jindal said that he expects to have a decision made about his potential run in the next couple of months, and that he has been praying over the matter with his wife.

Livestream: NRA's Wayne LaPierre Addresses CPAC

Executive Vice President for the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre, addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference. Updates to follow.

Priebus on 2016 Debates: "Conservative Media Will Have a Voice"

Hopefully, those of us who watched the 2012 election cycle can all agree on the following points: There were too many Republican debates, too many unfriendly moderators, and too many “gotcha” questions.

To that end, at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Friday, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus announced he's already taken steps to address voters' understandable concerns.

“The days of the media calling the shots in our primary debates are over,” he said. “You know, in the past, the media got to decide when, where and how many debates there were. Not anymore. At the RNC, we created a new system for a reasonable number of debates.”

“This time we’re going to assist in choosing debate partners and panelists, not the other way around,” he continued. “Conservative media will have a voice in the process. For example, we just announced that Salem Radio—the home of Hugh Hewitt and Bill Bennett—will partner for the debates with CNN. So the field day for the liberal media is over.”

The first GOP presidential debate is officially scheduled for this August.

Editor's note: This post has been updated for clarity purposes.

RNC's Priebus on GOP Debates: Conservatives Will Interview, Liberal Media Is Done

On this week's Townhall Weekend Journal:

Bill Bennett and AEI's Michael Rubin on Obama's remarks that "no religion is responsible for terrorism" remark. Hugh Hewitt and Donald Rumsfeld on the President's handling of Islamic terror. Dennis Prager responds to a CNN column written by Cornel feminist professor Dr. Peggy Drexler asking, why no Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue with men posing? Hugh Hewitt with RNC Chair Reince Priebus on Salem's role in the up-and-coming Republican presidential primary debates (Hugh Hewitt will be hosting) and the changes Priebus is making regarding the liberal media's inclusion (or lack thereof) and the frequency in which the debates occur. Bill O'Reilly appears with Hewitt discuss the media's attempt to "Brian Williams" him. Dennis Prager on the hard-left approach to this year's Academy Awards.

RNC Chairman Questions Clinton On Foreign Donations, Praises Wisconsin Right To Work Legislation

Yesterday, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus held a 20-minute sit down to answer questions from media members at the Conservative Political Action Conference. In a suite in the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, our own Guy Benson asked the chairman about the revelation that millions of dollars were given to the Clinton Foundation–an organization that’s raised $2 billion since its creation in 2001– by foreign governments while she was serving as President Obama’s Secretary of State and the passage of right to work in his home state of Wisconsin.

On February 26, the Wisconsin State Senate passed a right to work bill by a slim 17-15 vote. The law would prohibit forced dues to unions by private sector employees working under labor union contracts, according to Reuters. It now heads to the Republican-held State Assembly for final passage.

On both of those issues, the chairman said:

I don’t know how Hillary Clinton is going to take a 3 ‘o’clock call– 3am call from Libya, or Yemen, or Algeria, or Saudi Arabia when she was willing to have her foundation take potentially millions of dollars from those governments… Which country gave money? Who authorized the money to go there? Who did the negotiating because people just don’t–as you know and I know from raising money every day for the RNC– most of the time people just don’t wake up in the morning, saying I’m going to write a check for $25,000 without talking to somebody. Somebody solicited a donation, somebody made that donation happen, somebody collected the check, or gave wire transfer information to these other countries to make all of this happen.

Do you know what disqualifies someone from being president? It’s not having 50 articles about whether Barack Obama is a patriot or not, or whether he’s a Christian; the issue is how is it possible that the frontrunner of the Democrat Party is going to be President of the United States when she’s taking money while she’s representing the United States as Secretary of State.

Now, as far as right to work, it’s going to create jobs in Wisconsin. Look you can’t run an economy in Wisconsin when you’ve got Indiana, Michigan, and Iowa, as right to work states, taking their jobs. So, this is about competition and being competitive; it’s also about freedom.

It was recently reported that one of those foreign donations violated an ethics agreement (via WaPo):

The Clinton Foundation accepted millions of dollars from seven foreign governments during Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, including one donation that violated its ethics agreement with the Obama administration, foundation officials disclosed Wednesday.

Most of the contributions were possible because of exceptions written into the foundation’s 2008 agreement, which included limits on foreign-government donations.

The agreement, reached before Clinton’s nomination amid concerns that countries could use foundation donations to gain favor with a Clinton-led State Department, allowed governments that had previously donated money to continue making contributions at similar levels.

The new disclosures, provided in response to questions from The Washington Post, make clear that the 2008 agreement did not prohibit foreign countries with interests before the U.S. government from giving money to the charity closely linked to the secretary of state.

In one instance, foundation officials acknowledged they should have sought approval in 2010 from the State Department ethics office, as required by the agreement for new government donors, before accepting a $500,000 donation from the Algerian government.

The money was given to assist with earthquake relief in Haiti, the foundation said. At the time, Algeria, which has sought a closer relationship with Washington, was spending heavily to lobby the State Department on human rights issues.

That year, Algeria spent $422,097 lobbying U.S. government officials on human rights issues and U.S.-Algerian relations, according to filings made under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Data tracked by the Sunlight Foundation shows that while the Algerian government’s overall spending on lobbying in the United States remained steady, there was an increase in 2010 in State Department meetings held with lobbyists representing the country — with 12 visits to department officials that year, including some visits with top political appointees. In the years before and after, only a handful of State Department visits were recorded by Algeria lobbyists.

A 2010 State Department report on human rights in Algeria noted that “principal human rights problems included restrictions on freedom of assembly and association” and cited reports of arbitrary killings, widespread corruption and a lack of transparency. Additionally, the report, issued in early 2011, discussed restrictions on labor and women’s rights.

A State Department spokesman referred questions about the ethics-office reviews to the charity. Nick Merrill, a Clinton spokesman, declined to comment.

Sen. Tom Cotton: We Have To Be Willing To Go To War

If America wants to defeat ISIS, the U.S. millitary must demonstrate itself to be a foreboding enemy, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) explained at a panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday.

“Air operations alone will not defeat ISIS,” Zinke said. “I've been there. ISIS is evil. You're not going to reform a group that beheads children, or burns pilots in cages. They're not reformable. And ISIS is as much a battle within Islam as it is between the East and west. We have a duty to fight ISIS.”

Zinke, a retired Navy SEAL Commander and member of the House Armed Services committee, agreed that the current strategy against Islamic extremism in the middle east has not been successful.

“I think the American public is tough, but we deserve the truth,” he said. “We won't be able to win against this enemy if we conduct it from over the horizon.”

Though Zinke commented that he wouldn't have chosen to go into Iraq given what is now known, he believes that only a military operation with full support – including medivac and air support – will truly remove the threat of the terrorist group.

“America is a force for global order because we're the only global power, and have been since the beginning of our country,” Cotton said. “The alternative is not perpetual peace and stability. Without America the alternative is disorder and chaos.”

For the millitary to truly be formidible, it requires both funding and support from the government and the people. Right now, Cotton said, the millitary lacks the funding it needs to win a war.

“Too many people think our current president is not willing to fight a war to protect our interests, which are protecting our territory, defending the lives of our citizens, standing up for our allies, and protecting our commercial interest around the world,” said Cotton, who served in Iraq as an Army Ranger.

The decline of America as a strong military power has not only caused a threat to nataional security, but is a contributor to global instability, according to Cotton. This disorder has grown and festered in the Middle East during the current administration.

“If we are willing to fight a war, and are prepared to fight a war,” Cotton said, “then war is much less likely to occur, because our allies will defer to us, knowing that we take their security interests into account, our enemies will fear us, knowing that we will confront and defeat them in any manner.”

CPAC Boos Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, Cheer Walker

CPAC Interview: Carly Fiorina Talks 2016

I had the opportunity to sit down with former Hewlett-Packard CEO, American Conservative Union Foundation Chairwoman and potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina at CPAC Thursday afternoon. We discussed Fiorina's rise to CEO, her pursuit of the American dream, her plans to run for the White House, how to beat Hillary Clinton and more. 

Photo credit: Ed Morrissey Filming: Sarah Jean Seman.

Perry Shames Washington on Immigration: They Talk and People Die

"At no time has the world been more dangerous," former Texas Governor Rick Perry said not long after he took the stage at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Perry, who is rumored to run for president next year, had some bold words for the Obama administration and a Congress that has done little to secure not only our foreign security, but our own borders.

Perry, who served as Texas governor for 14 years, provided unwelcome news for the CPAC audience regarding America's shaky standing in the world, thanks to our weak leadership in Washington.

"We have entered a time of testing...we are failing," he said. The president, he continued, bows to political correctness and offers grave miscalculations in regards to the scope of our enemies.

"His incompetence in Iraq and Syria have allowed the rise of ISIS."

Perry said it is time for the American people to hear the truth, bluntly telling the CPAC crowd that ISIS wants an apocalypse and that we are not responding as we should.

"We didn't start this war, nor did we choose it," he said. "But we will have the will to finish it."

Just as dangerous, is how our enemies view us.

This Russian president, he said, has watched President Obama neglect to enforce his own red lines. It was conditions like those that allowed Putin to boldly enter Ukraine.

"Here's the simple truth: Our allies doubt us, and our adversaries are all too willing to test us."

No one, he added, should be surprised that dictators defy us. Why?

"Our president won't even defend the line that separates our border from Mexico," said Perry.

For America to be safer, our border must be secure, he declared. Washington is dangerously behind on this process. Tens of thousands of illegal immigrants are showing up on the border, he said, many of those being unaccompanied minors.

"They talk and people literally die," he said. "I had to make a decision on how to deal with that - the country was being impacted."

Perry met with President Obama to speak about the need to secure to border, but his warnings seemed to fall on deaf ears: "It became abundantly clear to me he was not going to address this issue."

That's when Texas took matters into its own hands. The governor increased law enforcement presence on the border, including deploying the National Guard. Since then, Texas has had a 74 percent decrease in apprehensions.

In other words, give Texas the resources, and it can secure the border.

Perry also touched on the growing national debt and uncertainty of millennials' future with the overbearing amount of student loans, yet ended with a positive message.

"I've never been more certain that America's best days remain in front of us," he said, with ingenuity and idealism of the American people being "too durable to be confused by this administration."

"We had a Great Depression - we even survived Jimmy Carter," he said. "We will survive the Obama years too."

Congress Chooses Conservative To Head Congressional Budget Office

House and Senate Budget Committee Chairmen Tom Price (R-GA) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) announced today that Mercatus Center Senior Fellow Keith Hall will be the next director of the Congressional Budget Office.

Hall, who was appointed to be commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics by President Bush, will replace the current director Doug Elmendorf, who served at the left-leaning Brookings Institution before coming to CBO.

Hall ran the BLS from 2008 through 2012 and served as Chief Economist on President Bush's White House Council of Economic Advisors before that.

While at Mercatus, Hall authored numerous papers on the United States labor market including a 2013 working paper titled, "The Employment Costs of Regulation." "[T]here is evidence that high levels of regulation can affect the economy dynamically and at the macro level," Hall wrote. "With respect to labor markets, this means that regulations can affect job creation, wage growth, and workforce skill mismatching with available jobs."

As the official scorekeeper of legislative proposals, the CBO is a key Washington institution whose cost estimates have a significant impact on how laws are drafted.

“[Dr. Hall] has dedicated his career to managing teams focused on strengthening the economy by providing policy makers and the public with superior economic analysis and information," Enzi said in a statement. "I thank Mr. Elmendorf for his service and look forward to working with Dr. Hall as Congress begins the difficult task of addressing our nation’s chronic overspending, which threatens America’s future.”

Rubio at CPAC: "I Have a Debt to America"

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is reportedly jumping on the 2016 bandwagon. Time and again, however, he has said that he will not run for the presidency and re-election -- he will pick one or the other -- and thus unsurprisingly recommitted to that pledge at CPAC on Friday. Nevertheless, his speech struck all the familiar chords, blending his own personal story with his deep and abiding love for a country that saved his parents from the scourge of communism.

“The question before us in November of 2016 is what kind of country are we going to be,” he began. “For over two centuries, we’ve been an exceptional country. A place founded on the belief that the every man, woman, and child is born with a God-given right to life and liberty and to pursue happiness. Sometimes you wouldn’t know we’re an exceptional nation by listening to the Left. They describe us as a people divided on lines of gender and ethnicity and race and class. Sometimes you wouldn’t know we’re an exceptional nation by listening to the president, who has described our nation as sometimes being arrogant or dictating terms to others.”

“But Americans know we’re exceptional,” he continued. “And you know who else knows we’re exceptional? The world does. After all, when was the last time you heard of a boatload of American refugees arriving on the shores of another country?”

And yet there is, he went on to say, a prevailing sense among Americans that the country has totally lost its way.

“The bad news is that today our nation is on the road to decline,” he plainly stated. “[But] here’s the good news: We are one election away from triggering another American century.”

And that American century, he continued, is something he feels both obligated and determined to secure.

“I have a debt to America that I will never be able to repay,” he said. “For me America isn’t just a country, for me it’s a place that literally changed the history of my family.”

“This is the America that you and I are now called to leave behind,” he continued. “Let us now move forward to cease our destiny [as] the single greatest nation man has ever known.”