JUDY WOODRUFF: Over the last two days, 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls have courted religious conservatives here in Washington.The Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Conference brought together a key part of the GOP’s base, and provided an opportunity for possible candidates to try out their messages.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R, N.J.: Thank you for the warm welcome. I appreciate it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and a host of other Republicans thinking about running for president in two years made appeals to religious conservatives. It was Christie’s first major address at a conference of its kind.
In fact, last year, he landed in controversy, when he passed up an invitation to speak, instead attending an event with former President Bill Clinton.
But, today, a day before he heads to the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire, he stirred the crowd.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE: Theirs is the party that is intolerant. Theirs is the party that exclude other ideas.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE: And we should no longer sit around and allow ourselves to be punching bags.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Former Pennsylvania Senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum said the party needs to show it’s for the working people:
FMR. SEN. RICK SANTORUM, R, Penn.: The vast majority of our supporters are the folks who hold traditional values like you, and they’re not businesspeople; they’re workers.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Others highlighted what they see as attacks on religious freedom, among them Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
SEN. TED CRUZ, R, Tex.: At no time in our nation’s history have we seen threats to liberty, religious liberty, and every one of the Bill of Rights, more dire than they are right now.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Florida Senator Marco Rubio:
SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R, Fla.: And we have an obligation to our country and to our fellow man to use our positions of influence to highlight those values.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And Kentucky Senator Rand Paul:
SEN. RAND PAUL, R, Ky.: America’s not just experiencing growing pains. America is in a full-blown spiritual crisis.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Newly-minted House Majority Leader California Congressman Kevin McCarthy laid out his vision.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, R, Calif.: I know we’re frustrated. I hear the message. And I want to pledge this one item to you, the same thing I pledged inside conference. We will unite, we will have the courage to lead and the wisdom to listen, and we will turn this country back around.
JUDY WOODRUFF: This comes one day after replacing Virginia’s Eric Cantor as the number two ranking Republican in the House.