May 9, 2015 12:57 PM
The Latest on 2016: Walker: 'American Dream' out of reach
The Associated Press
12:50 p.m. EDT
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says: "The American dream is out of reach." In his comments Saturday, he was trumpeting a theme he's touched on during his earlier visits to South Carolina.
Scott said: "It's not out of reach because of Wall Street. It's out of reach because of K Street"
The "K Street" reference was shorthand for lobbyists in Washington.
He said government needs to get of the way and power needs to be put back in the hands of the American people.
Walker hasn't yet declared his candidacy for president in 2016, but with an active political organization and repeated visits to the early voting states, he's all but sure to get into the race later this year.
He's already a popular figure among many in South Carolina for his efforts as governor to weaken Wisconsin's public employee unions.
This state's GOP governor, Nikki Haley, has been a fierce critic of organized labor during her efforts to recruit major manufacturing plants from the automobile and aeronautics industry to South Carolina.
Walker planned to leave from South Carolina for what he described as "an educational trip" to Israel. He will be there until Thursday.
12:15 p.m. EDT
Rick Santorum hinted Saturday in South Carolina that he is close to announcing whether he will again run for president, telling a gathering of conservative activists he's driven by what he called President Barack Obama's failures on national security.
"Russia, China and yes, radical Islam, is threatening our country," the former Pennsylvania senator said. "Heck, I would just be happy if our president would be able to tell the difference between our friends and enemies.
"Let me give our president a primer: Iran, enemy. Israel, friend."
Santorum said he had the experience to articulate a "vision of keeping America strong."
He told the crowd: "I've been clear about the threat of radical Islam. This isn't a war on terror. It's a war on radical Islam."
And he offered a solution: "Here's what we need to do. If these people want to bring back a 7th Century version of Islam, my suggestion is to load our bombers up and bomb them back to the 7th century."
Santorum, who narrowly won the lead-off Iowa caucuses in 2012, also touted his connections to South Carolina, the third state to cast ballots in the presidential primaries. Two of his sons attended The Citadel in Charleston, and he has a niece graduating Saturday from the University of South Carolina.
11:30 a.m. EDT
Former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina is the last presidential candidate on Saturday's schedule of conservative activists at a rally in South Carolina. That left time for her in the morning to talk to graduates of Southern New Hampshire University at the school's commencement.
She said: "I'd like to make this as painless for all of you as possible so you can get to what you really came here for. But I hope that you will remember something, maybe just one thing of what I have to say today."
Fiorina acknowledged that she wasn't and couldn't be the center of the graduates' attention, mentioning her run for the presidency directly just once. But she still laced her speech with messages from the early days of her campaign.
The first "lesson" she delivered for graduates: America is the greatest nation on Earth. Fiorina often weaves her personal bio into that idea, speaking about her rise from a secretary in a small real estate agency to the leader of a Fortune 50 company. Fiorina shared her views on the difference between managers and leaders a familiar talking point on the campaign trail.
But she also addressed her own challenges with breast cancer, a daughter who died from drug overdose and her ouster from Hewlett-Packard. These personal struggles are not always a piece of her political message.
She said: "When the tough times and the tears come, take comfort in the knowledge that these are part of every life and know what I have learned: in the toughest of times also can come the greatest of blessings."
10:55 a.m. EDT
While most of the Republican presidential field is in South Carolina for Saturday's meeting of conservative activists, Jeb Bush is delivering the commencement address at Liberty University in Virginia.
The former Florida governor told a crowd of roughly 34,000 people that "the Christian voice" isn't heard enough in the world. And he touched on his family name, considered both his greatest political challenge and strength as he readies a 2016 presidential bid.
In particular, Bush said he enjoyed meeting Jonathan Falwell, a pastor whose father and brother served as presidents of the Christian university in Lynchburg, Virginia.
"Somehow, I don't know what it was, we really hit it off," said Bush, himself the son of one president and brother of another. "I'm not sure what's in store for you next, Jonathan, but I'm pulling for you."
Bush noted he wasn't the first member of the Bush family to appear at a Liberty University commencement. His father, former President George H.W. Bush, received an honorary degree at the Christian university 25 years ago.
10:25 a.m. EDT
Before the first presidential contender takes the stage in South Carolina, the state's former senator, Jim DeMint, is talking about the Export-Import Bank of the United States.
The future of the bank has become an important cause for some conservatives, including DeMint, the head of the Washington-based Heritage Foundation. On Saturday, he called the bank "a big crony boondoggle."
Washington, he said, is "there for the 'bigs'" in business and government. "None of this stuff is for the little guy," he said, adding that "too many of our Republican friends" perpetuate that system.
DeMint said conservatives should judge presidential candidates by whether they are willing to stand against "cronyism" such as energy subsidies in Iowa, the nation's first caucus state, or support for the Ex-Im Bank. The bank's charter runs out in June.
The bank helps finance exports of U.S. products such as jetliners, including those manufactured by Boeing Co., which has a plant in South Carolina. Some conservative Republicans say it finances too many questionable projects and favors some businesses over others, but it enjoys sweeping support among Democrats, business group and some GOP lawmakers who argue it sustains jobs.
10:10 a.m. EDT
Several hundred Republican activists are gathered in Greenville, South Carolina, to hear from almost a dozen declared and potential presidential candidates. It's the third Citizens United Freedom Summit, following similar events earlier this campaign cycle in Iowa and New Hampshire.
It's a conservative crowd, with many attendees expressing excitement over hearing candidates such as Ben Carson and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Other speakers include Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former executive Carly Fiorina and businessman Donald Trump.
South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney got the meeting going by telling the mostly white, older audience the overall electorate is younger and includes an increasing number of Hispanic voters. The GOP's eventual nominee must not "water down conservative principles," Mulvaney said, but figure out "how to talk to the people who aren't in this room."
Attendee Gary Gunderson, a business consultant from Abbeville, South Carolina, said his bottom-line is much simpler. He said: "Any one of them would be better than the disaster we've got now." His wife, Margaret Gunderson, chimed in: "Or Hillary."