Ben Carson Bows Out of GOP Race

Dr. Ben Carson (photo credit: John Pemble via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0)

This evening at CPAC, Dr. Ben Carson officially suspended his — now quixotic — quest for the presidency, stating that he would be “leaving the campaign trail.” Despite leading several national polls earlier in the cycle, Dr. Carson was unable to seize on his grassroots momentum and turned in a number of lackluster showings in the early voting states.

However, in spite these poor performances, Dr. Carson had time and time again committed to continuing his campaign. It would seem that a key aspect of his decision to finally bow out of the race is his new job. Carson will serve as the national chairman for My Faith Votes, a self-described non-partisan organization that “exists to inspire and motivate Jesus followers to vote.”

With Carson’s announcement, the field is down to just four candidates: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and Marco Rubio.

Joshua Pinho is a Digital Communications Associate for the American Principles Project. Continue Reading

Donald Trump Opts Out of CPAC

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

After Thursday night’s GOP presidential debate, CPAC would have been a perfect opportunity for Donald Trump to change the primary conversation. Sadly for conference-goers, the front runner won’t be present.

In a statement posted to Facebook on Friday afternoon, the Trump campaign said this:

The Donald J. Trump for President Campaign has just announced it will be in Wichita, Kansas for a major rally on Saturday prior to Caucus. He will also be speaking at the Kansas Caucus and then departing for Orlando, Florida and a crowd of approximately 20,000 people or more.  Because of this, he will not be able to speak at CPAC, as he has done for many consecutive years. Mr. Trump would like to thank Matt Schlapp and all of the executives at CPAC and looks forward to returning to next year, hopefully as President of the United States.

Though it’s unlikely there will be too much of a drop off in attendance, the organizers themselves are clearly disappointed:

Kevin Dawson is Deputy Operations Manager for the American Principles Project. Continue Reading

Chris Christie Has Common Core Implementation Regrets

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (photo via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0)

Laura Ingraham at CPAC pressed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on his previous support of Common Core and responsibility bringing it into his state.  She asked if he had regrets, and in particular if he just had political regrets:

Implementation regrets.  Unlike other people who just get to talk about this stuff we actually have to do it.  Once we start to do it, what I’ve seen, with the concern that I’ve had since the beginning we set a commission up that is now coming back with some recommendations, but my charge to them is that we have to keep government at the local level.  With education it is most important, it has to have parents involved, there have to be teachers involved as a part of this process and it needs to be part of this process and will be I think as we move forward in New Jersey.

I’d like to hear him specify what his concerns were, and I’m curious to see what process unfolds in New Jersey, especially with New Jersey’s legislature poised to delay the impact of the state’s Common Core Assessment, PARCC.

Shane Vander Hart is the online communications manager for American Principles in Action, a frequent contributor to, and the editor of Iowa-based Continue Reading

CPAC Winners and Losers

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The 2015 CPAC Straw Poll results were announced on Saturday. Nobody was too surprised by the winner.

Senator Rand Paul won for the third year in a row with 25.7 percent of the vote, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker surprised in second with 21.4 percent of the vote, Texas Senator Ted Cruz took third with 11.5 percent, Dr. Ben Carson took fourth with 11.4 percent, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush rounded out the top 5 with 8.3 percent.

It should be noted that the CPAC Straw Poll is not necessarily an accurate portrayal of the Republican electorate. Of the 3,007 voters, nearly half were younger than 26. CPAC is known for having a libertarian bent to it, which was on display with poll results indicating a vast majority of voters supporting marijuana legalization and/or decriminalization. That bent won’t be nearly as dramatic in Iowa and New Hampshire.

That being said, there were certainly winners and losers last weekend.


Scott Walker (2nd with 21.4 percent)

Governor Walker has had an impressive run over the past several weeks, and it continued with a strong showing at CPAC. Walker’s campaign had a light presence at the conference, with no apparent effort to whip votes for the Straw Poll, and despite that he finished in a close second place. That’s impressive, and his stock continues to remain high.

Rand Paul (1st with 25.7 percent)

Senator Paul won his third straight CPAC Straw Poll, which is certainly a noteworthy accomplishment. Continue Reading

Jeb Bush Talks Common Core at CPAC

During his Q&A session with Sean Hannity at CPAC on February 27th, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was asked about his stance on education, and specifically on Common Core. The Q&A exchange was as follows:

Sean Hannity (11:16): Let me ask you—I know the second big issue that always comes up when you read about Governor Jeb Bush is the issue of Common Core. Um, it was interesting, I didn’t know until I was researching you, that you were the first governor to institute vouchers in the country. It was eventually overruled by the Supreme Court of Florida, but you were the first Governor to allow a voucher system. I think a lot of conservatives believe in vouchers. But I want you to address the Common Core issue.

Governor Bush (11:41): Sure, well, I’ll do it in the context of comprehensive reform, because high standards by themselves aren’t meaningful. They’re helpful, they’re better than lower standards, but by themselves if there’s no accountability around this, if there’s no consequence between mediocrity and failure or excellence, then the system won’t move forward. In Florida, we took a comprehensive approach. Yes, we did have the first statewide voucher program, and we have more school choice in Florida, both public and private, than any other state in the country. And we have the largest virtual school. We have the largest corporate tax scholarship program, we have 30,000 students that if their parents—that if their child has a learning disability they can take the dollars, the state and local dollars, and send them to any private school of their choice.

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Bush Endorses Stripping Federal Government of Role in Curriculum

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0)

At CPAC, Jeb Bush was asked by Sean Hannity if Common Core was a federal takeover.  He responded “no” and then amended his answer to “it shouldn’t be”:

With this President and this Department of Education there is a risk they will intrude … We should say quite clearly in the re-authorization of the K-12 law … the federal government has no role in the creation of standards either directly or indirectly; the federal government has no role in the creation of curriculum and content. The federal government should have no access to student ID or information.

Will this prove enough to satisfy the Common Core moms in key early primary states?

Bush’s education remarks begin around the 12 minute mark. Continue Reading

Bush on Life and Marriage

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)

When Sean Hannity asked him about Terry Schiavo, Jeb Bush took the opportunity to assert “I am pro-life”:

We [in Florida] are the first state to have a ‘choose life’ license place that helped with crisis pregnancy. I’m pro-life, and I also believe the most vulnerable in our society should be at the front of the line.

When asked if he is evolving on gay marriage, Bush responded, “No, I believe in traditional marriage.”

His remarks on life and marriage start around the 23 minute mark.

Maggie Gallagher is the editor of Continue Reading

Ben Carson Criticizes Common Core at CPAC

During the Q&A portion of his CPAC remarks on February 26th, Dr. Ben Carson was asked about his views on education and Common Core. His response was:

“I think, as I mentioned before, education is the great divide in this country. It doesn’t matter what your ethnic background or any other background: you get a good education, you write your own ticket. Now, the best education is the education that is closest to home. And I’ve found, for instance: home schoolers do the best. Private schoolers: next best. Charter schoolers: next best. And public schoolers: worst. So that’s why we need school choice. Common Core is not school choice. I do believe in standards, but those standards obviously are set by parents and people who do home schooling or they wouldn’t be doing so well. Those standards are set by private schools. And public schools need to learn how to compete, but they don’t need some central government to tell them how to do it.”

The entirety of Ben Carson’s CPAC appearance can be viewed below:

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Santorum: “Pro-Freedom, Pro-Family, Pro-Growth, and Also Pro-Worker”

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Sen. Rick Santorum’s CPAC speech carved out a niche for himself as the Blue Collar Conservative, the champion of the ‘little guy.’

Santorum called on the GOP to be “pro-freedom, pro-family, pro-growth, and also pro-worker.”  He gets an A-plus from me as the only candidate I have seen so far to name the reality the average family is facing—a declining standard of living: “We have seen that wages over time have stagnated, the economy median income is declining. . .We need a vision that is focused on working men and women who are struggling in America today. . . and feeling like neither party really cares about them or talks about them. Seventy percent of Americans don’t have a college education. . .Pundits often wonder how I was able to win 11 states, even though I was outspent 4 or 5 to one. . .I won because I stood for someone, the little guy, the American worker.”

He jabbed implicitly at Jindal, Walker, Huckabee, and Christie when he pointed out: “Back in 2012, I wasn’t for Common Core, and today I’m still not for Common Core.”

Santorum seemed a bit underprepared when asked for the best way to dismantle Common Core, but he pointed to the bill introduced by Sen. David Vitter that would prevent the Department of Education from making waivers or grants dependent on adopting a particular curriculum or assessment.

Maggie Gallagher is the editor of Continue Reading