Republican presidential candidates gathered in downtown D.C. Friday morning to praise tax cuts, limited government and conservative financial policies.
Thousands packed into the Mayflower Hotel on Connecticut Avenue to see the candidates, who were speaking as part of the Defending the American Dream Summit – a Republican conference. The event was hosted by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a Republican watchdog organization.
Chants of “U-S-A” rang through the hall as audience members watched clips of Ronald Reagan speaking about America. When a video of Katie Couric appeared, the attitude became vocally negative.
Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York, was the first to take the stage, telling spectators he deserved the vote because he stands for “small government, lower taxes and much more accountable government.”
He said he plans to force a change in the culture of Washington – one currently of procedural red tape and party politics.
“I guarantee, in the Giuliani administration, the days of anonymous earmarks are over,” Giuliani said, referring to the process of quiet member-directed spending projects.
He also said he turned around the economic situation of New York City and gave “results, not just rhetoric.”
“In the case of the three leading Democrats, they’ve never ran a city, never ran a state. I don’t think they’ve ever ran a business,” Giuliani said.
Fred Thompson, former Republican Senator from Tennessee and actor on “Law and Order,” promoted a similar message of government spending restraint.
“We are locked into a mandatory spending cycle that’s going to bankrupt the country if we continue on the same pattern,” Thompson said.
He added that government power can be both beneficial and dangerous.
“A government powerful enough to give anything to you is powerful enough to take away everything you have,” Thompson said
Thompson also touched upon the health care issue, explaining that the Democrats were wrong to call it a corrupt industry.
“We are blessed to be living longer than ever before, and we are blessed with the best health care in the world in this country. But we are turning our blessings into a curse for the next generation,” he said.
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) offered a similar message of fiscal conservatism and was the only speaker to comment on foreign policy.
“America should defend its country, not police an empire around the world,” said Paul, who ran for president as a Libertarian in 1988.
In Oscars-like fashion, orchestra music began playing 11 minutes into Paul’s speech, forcing him to stop. This angered many of his supporters, especially in light of Giuliani’s half-hour speech.
Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) said he would like to eliminate a lot of the tax laws currently in place in America. At one point in his speech, Brownback brought out two heavy tomes full of tax code and said, “I think this should be taken behind the barn and killed with a dull axe.”
Giuliani and Thompson also addressed cutting taxes.
GW sophomore Chad Swarthout, president of GW College Libertarians, said he agreed with Paul’s non-intrusive attitude towards economic and social issues.
“(I support) reducing the power of the government and restoring the power of the individual,” Swarthout said.