Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.), who spoke first, received an exceptionally warm introduction from the chairman of the American Conservative Union, Al Cardenas, who said, “I know I’ll be visiting him at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue some day,” according to The New York Times.
Rubio criticized Obama, saying, “You may not agree with what that religion agrees. That's not the point. The point is, the First Amendment still applies. This isn't even a social issue, this is a constitutional issue. The federal government has no right to tell religious institutions to pay for things they believe are wrong,” reported The Guardian.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “The federal government will impose a fine on Catholic institutions for no other reason than that the religious beliefs of Catholics run counter to those of a sitting president,” according to Bloomberg.
Obama drew criticism on everything from his economic policies to his foreign policy record, with McConnell saying, “We're going to remind folks we're not in this mess because of tsunami in Japan or a debt crisis in Europe [but because] the president got everything he wanted for two long years,” according to CBS.
The first day of CPAC also saw many former contenders for the Republican presidential nominations make speeches, including Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Gov. Rick Perry (R-Tex.) and Herman Cain, reported The Washington Post.
Concerning the Republican primaries, Rubio told his fellow conservatives, “We have four really good candidates. At the end, we’re all going to come together, and we know that, right?”