Events in Israel and concerns about Republican leadership in Congress continued to dominate the second day of New Hampshire GOP’s First in the Nation (FITN) Summit on Saturday. Both the presidential candidates and the conservative activists who addressed the Republican gathering blamed President Joe Biden for failed U.S. policy, but they also worked that divisions within the party could cost them at the ballot box yet again.
And plenty of shots were taken at the one major POTUS candidate who didn’t appear: Donald Trump.
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson focused his speech on the failures of the Biden administration.
“I’m running for president because Joe Biden has taken our country in the wrong direction,” Hutchinson said. “Wherever you look–the fact that he’s wrong on energy policy, he has failed us on border security, he has spent too much money in Washington D.C., and printed money that’s caused inflation and hurt our economy,” he explained.
Hutchinson also rejected Trump’s call for new tariffs, pointing out they would raise prices for American consumers. The Tax Foundation calls Trump’s proposal a “$300 billion tax hike.”
“Former President Trump is simply wrong whenever he says that we need to have a 10 percent tariff on all goods coming to the United States of America regardless of where they come from,” he said. “What [Trump] is saying, though, is that we as Americans can’t compete on the global stage, and we’ve got to have protection,” Hutchinson continued. “I believe that the American worker, the American producer…can win and produce and compete, and we don’t have to have that protection that would hurt the American consumer.”
Morgan Ortagus, who served in the Trump administration’s State Department, told the GOP crowd the naivete of the Biden administration has put America and its allies in jeopardy.
“If there’s one lesson that we should have learned from history, and just from this past week, it’s that we need to believe our enemies when they tell us what they’re going to do,” Ortagus said. “Today, the clerics in Iran chant ‘death to Israel,’ and then they also chant ‘death to America’ – maybe we should start believing them.”
After listing the growing aggression from America’s enemies around the globe, Ortagus pointed to the White House.
“Across all these challenges, our leaders are asleep at the wheel,” she said. “All of us, as Americans, we must stand up and say ‘enough.’ I can tell you – it won’t happen as long as the Democrats are in control of
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) turned up the tough rhetoric on the Biden administration over foreign policy when he took the stage, including the release of $6 billion in assets as part of a hostage deal with Iran.
“Do not create a market for American hostages,” Scott warned. When you pay it, you create it.”
As for the attack on Israel and the Jewish nation’s response, Scott was short and to the point: “I hope Hamas is wiped off the face of the earth.”
But Scott saved his harshest words for the state of American culture.
“There’s this drug called victimhood that is devastating our country, and it comes with the narcotic of despair,” Scott said. “There are these people who actually believe that grievance is our way forward – and I know that greatness is our only path to remain the city on the hill.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence continued his criticism of his one-time boss, Donald Trump, laying part of the blame for the massive $33 trillion national debt at the former president’s feet.
“Doing nothing [about the debt] is not an option, although that is the policy of Joe Biden – and candidly, it’s the policy of my former running mate who won’t even talk about reforming entitlements,” he said.
Pence, who is consistently polling at less than two percent in the Granite State, appealed to New Hampshire voters to change the course of the primary.
“If there was ever a time when New Hampshire was called upon to shape national leadership that would give America a fresh start back to what has always made us strong, prosperous, and free, it is now.”
Grover Norquist, the influential fiscal hawk and founder of Americans for Tax Reform, praised New Hampshire for its culture of low taxes in the heart of deep-blue New England.
“Before I lived in America, I lived in Massachusetts,” Norquist quipped. “All of us in Massachusetts envy New Hampshire.”
At an event that featured a fair amount of gloom and doom, Norquist offered some optimism.
“We’re winning – slower than I’d like to – but we’re winning,” Norquist said.
Comparing the Republican and Democratic Parties, Norquist explained the Democratic coalition is the “taking coalition,” while Republicans are the “leave-us-alone coalition.”
“Our coalition, the ‘leave-us-alone coalition,’ will beat the ‘taking coalition,’ because as we reduce taxes and take the pledge never to raise them, we squeeze the ability of the left to buy votes and to buy support,” Norquist said.
U.S. Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.) talked about one of the hot topics among attendees: the inability of House Republicans to pick a speaker. She called the situation in the House of Representatives “Real Housewives of Washington, D.C. – Congressional edition.”
“We’re in a bit of some speaker drama,” Cammack said. “Right now, we don’t have a speaker, but we do have a bright spot – we have a speaker designee: Rep. Jim Jordan.”
She warned her fellow Republicans that “if you don’t put your differences aside, and put the needs and the will of the people that you represent first, not only will we lose this majority, we will lose this country.”
“If we’re continuing out there, pointing fingers, saying ‘you’re a RINO,’ or ‘you’re crazy,’ or ‘you’re doing this,’ or ‘you’re doing that,’ we’re just continuing to further divide,” she added.