Overheard at the Faith and Freedom Coalition's 'Road to Majority Conference'

Brian Resnick
National Journal

Here at the Faith and Freedom Coalition's "Road to the Majority Conference," you know the audience agrees with a point a speaker is making if there are shouts of "amen." They're here, as the Coalition's chairman Ralph Reed says, not to learn how "to preach to the choir," but rather make the message spread. They're here to fight against the idea that the message of a shrinking faith-based coalition and acceptance of secular ideas such as gay marriage are both inevitable.

Even though there are common refrains of "we are not the fringe" not all the speakers are on the same page. Take Michele Bachmann. In her speech, she took pains to mention how giving undocumented immigrants amnesty will hurt our poorest and tax the system. Jeb Bush said just about the opposite, citing how fertility rates in the country have dropped, and that immigrants can be an engine of growth.

Here's a running thread of some ideas and positions taken at the conference. We'll keep updating as they come in:

Michele Bachmann


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Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. at the Conservative Political Action Conference, March 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)  

On immigration:

This would be one thing the average illegal alien that comes into the United States, the average age is 34 years old, the average education level is about 10th grade. That's not to demean on the person coming in to the United States for a lack of education. But it isn't prudent to think that if you are 34 years of age with a 10th grade education or less, it's tough to believe that that person will be paying more in taxes than they will be receiving in benefits.


The people who will suffer the most, if we move forward, in my mind, with what is a very foolish action the people who will hurt the most are Hispanics and African Americans who already suffer very high levels of unemployment.

Jeb Bush


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(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

On Immigration:

Demography is destiny. Ten years from now we will all hopefully be 10 years older. that's my plan and I hope it is yours as well. If that's the case, then we are going to have fewer workers taking care of a larger number of people that the government has a social contract with. We cannot do that with the fertility rates we have in our country. We are barely breaking even...


Immigrants create far more businesses than native-born Americans. Immigrants are more fertile, and they love families, and they have more intact families, and they bring a younger population. Immigrants create an engine of economic prosperity.

Paul Ryan

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House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan at Conservative Political Action Conference, Friday, March 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

On the challenge of running against President Obama:

We kept sort of shadow-boxing the big government in theory. We had to argue against the promise and the rhetoric of President Obama. The great soaring rhetoric, all of the empty promises. Because remember in his first term, his first two years, he passed his program, but he didn't implement his program. Now in the second term, we are seeing it implemented, and it is pretty darn ugly.

Mark Sanford


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(AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

His appearance here, at a conference to advocate for classic family values, is interesting. Mark Sanford, of course, is known for taking time off from being the governor of South Carolina for an extramarital tryst in South America. He said he originally turned down the invitation to come speak, but a staffer convinced him because God gives second chances.

In some ways, I want to spend the rest of my life worrying about the log in my own eye before I worry about the speck in anybody else’s; or the speck of any other issue.

Sam Rodriguez, President National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

On immigration:

I know you are hearing a lot recently about whether or not these 11 million individuals become legal, that these are 11 million voters that automatically vote for a democrat or a liberal. Don't drink the Koolaid! How do I know that? Because seven out of 10 individuals, that come to Christ, that have a religious conversion experience to Christianity in America today, our are of Hispanic descent. … We have to put some salsa sauce on the top of the conservative movement!

Former Rep. Allen West 

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(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

On Obama's social policies. Remember, this audience is almost completely white, and very, very conservative.

Some of you maybe will leave this beautiful hotel where you're having this conference and go into some of the black neighborhoods here in Washington, D.C., and see the decimation of progressive socialist policies that have broken down the family unit in what used to be the strongest family community that this great country ever knew.

He then went on to quote Booker T. Washington, "the first black conservative."

Reporter’s note: Very little mention of the NSA scandals. If there was some, I missed it. When talking about the abuses of government, the speakers tend to bring up spending and the IRS scandal.