Republican activists are taking solace in success stories by governors and legislatures in GOP-leaning states as their party tries to regroup after the disappointments of a bruising presidential contest and a stalled agenda in Washington.
Here’s what fired up Washington-weary GOP stalwarts at a weekend conference of conservatives in this perennial swing state: pension overhauls in Wisconsin, tax cuts in Indiana and labor losses in Michigan.
Some of the biggest applause was reserved for governors who did not attend the event. The mere mention of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a tea-party favorite who won national attention for his battles with organized labor, prompted thunderous cheers. That was despite a speaking card full of potential presidential hopefuls, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Several GOP contenders, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, used their appearances at the Americans for Prosperity summit to position themselves as Washington outsiders. While that strategy is hardly new, the appeals play to a Republican base starved for the kind of victories that gridlocked Washington has been unable to deliver.
“All roads lead back to the states,” Perry said, as more than 1,000 activists roared their approval Friday. “I don’t think the American people want to look to Washington, D.C. to solve the problems of the day. Washington D.C. is creating the problems… .”
That set up an interesting dynamic, as Rubio was heckled for backing immigration reform, his signature legislative issue.
For his part, Cruz won no less than four standing ovations Saturday by panning the immigration bill, disparaging Congress, and promoting efforts to defund President Obama’s health care law.
As he finished his remarks, the crowd stood and chanted “Run! Ted! Run!”
When speakers addressed Washington they used it as a symbol of government run amok.
Rubio and Cruz won standing ovations for their pledges to vote against a budget that includes funding for Obama’s health care law.
Cruz earned perhaps the most applause of the weekend by calling for the abolishment of the IRS.
Jindal said he was “angry this government is using its power — the IRS, the NSA, the Department of Justice — to go after innocent, law abiding Americans.” He brought the crowd to its feet with the declaration that “there is a rebellion brewing in these states.”