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Jordan Candler / March 7, 2016

Trump Avoids Grassroots Conservatives

Rubio, Cruz and Kasich all appeared.

Thousands of activists convened in National Harbor, Maryland, over the weekend to hear grassroots leaders speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Current GOP presidential contenders Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, John Kasich and Donald Trump were invited and all but one took time away from the campaign trail to make an appearance. Their speeches included, among other topics, ways to liberate the economy and empower individuals through free market reforms, strengthening America’s military prowess, the Supreme Court vacancy and making an impact at the local level.

Rubio emphasized individual Liberty and Providence — “this nation was founded on a powerful, spiritual principle that our rights do not come from government” — and reminded us how to achieve the American Dream: “Free enterprise is the best economic system in the history of the world because it’s the only system where you can make poor people richer and you don’t have to make rich people poorer.” Cruz said, “I believe, like Ronald Reagan, in peace through strength. I actually think the weakness of Barack Obama invites military conflict and it encourages our enemies.” And Kasich made a point of advocating personal responsibility. “Don’t wait for somebody to come and fix the problems where you are,” he advised. “Fix them yourself. Send education, welfare, infrastructure, health care for the poor, and job training, all back to where you live, and you’ll have more power because we have to run America from the bottom-up. That’s what works.”

Most tellingly, however, is who those in attendance didn’t get to hear — Donald Trump. On Friday, CPAC coordinators announce,“DonaldTrump has decided at the last minute to drop out of CPAC — his choice sends a clear message to conservatives.” Trump didn’t show up for CPAC because he didn’t want conservative objections to his remarks broadcast across the nation ahead of Super Saturday — a clear indication that he knows his pandering views, which are at odds with conservative principles, would not be well received. He cancelled shortly after the most “anti-establishment” voice nationwide – Tea Party Patriots founder Jenny Beth Martin, urged her fellow conservatives to reject Trump’s “seductive pitch.” Martin declared, “I know you’re angry and I know you’re upset too and I know that Donald Trump’s tapping into that anger. It’s a smart campaign strategy because he makes it seem like he shares our frustration and it’s like he’s fighting on our behalf.” But he is not! Martin warned, “Donald Trump loves himself first, last and everywhere in between. He loves himself more than our country, he loves himself more than the constitution.”

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