In it, but not of it. TPM DC
Cantor, McConnnell and Paul couldn't quite agree on just what sort of country America will become when the Democrats are done with it, but they all said things will be very different if Paul doesn't make it to the Senate and Cantor doesn't see his party win the House.
Cantor delivered the keynote at the breakfast, and was greeted with warm applause for stopping by Kentucky on his 2010 rounds. In the longest speech of the morning, he argued that unless Democratic spending is checked by a GOP-controlled House, America is destined to become Greece.
"According to their plan, they are leading us to an America that few of us will recognize," Cantor said. "And if you want to think about what that looks like, just remember the scenes that we saw across the television screens and internet several months ago in Greece. In that country, you saw people taking to the streets, demanding more and more from their government, because they've accepted the fact that it's their central government that determines their fate."
McConnell argued it was a different European nation that Democrats are trying to transform the U.S. into: France.
In the course of defending his leadership of the Senate GOP, which he proudly admitted has been memorable for its unprecedented obstruction, McConnell said he had had no choice but to turn seemingly every legislative maneuver, no matter how minor, into a weeks-long procedural slog.
"We decided when they decided they were going to turn us into France, we were going to say no," McConnell said. "Had we sort of gone over and made everything bipartisan -- you know they're going to run against us as the Party Of No. Well, it depends on what you're saying no to, ladies and gentleman."
McConnell said he was "proud to say no" to Democratic proposals like the stimulus, which he called "borrowing money from your grandchildren to hire 250,000 new federal employees."
When it came time for Paul to take the podium, he said that unless he's in the Senate to stop them, the Democrats will not stop with an America that looks like Greece or France. The America he predicts we'll see after several more years of Democratic rule will look like the grandaddy of socialist states. To illustrate his point, he told a long story about the late 1960s.
"When I was a little kid, about 10 or 11 years old, I used to play chess with a guy we called Captain Pete," Paul told the Republicans munching on eggs in the high school cafeteria this morning. "He was from the Ukraine...and he knew a little bit about the Iron Curtain because he had lived under it."
"He had fought in the czar's army," Paul continued, telling the tale of Captain Pete's time as a teenage soldier fighting the Bolsheviks in early 20th century Russia. "I always thought, well why would he fight for the czar? The czar wasn't really a particularly good guy, he was a monarch and an autocrat...[Captain Pete] didn't really fight for the czar, he fought because his family owned two acres of land -- they grew their crops, they grew their vegetables and they didn't really understand how come it was they were supposed to give them to people who didn't work, who didn't grow their own crops, who didn't own any land."
"I'm proud to be an American, and I'm proud of our system," Paul concluded. "We need to send people to Washington who will stand up and say, 'You know what? We're not embarrassed that we make a profit. We're not embarrassed that we own property or that we own a farm."
The crowd applauded politely, and a few cheered. Shortly after that, they went out to their cars and headed to the Fancy Farm picnic, full of political red meat and ready to eat some of the real stuff themselves.