The biggest Republican presidential field in recent memory descended on South Carolina Saturday for the South Carolina Freedom Summit, part of a crowded calendar of events at which conservative candidates will be appearing all year. Many of the headlining speakers were busy stumping in New Hampshire last weekend and in Iowa the week before that. All three events were organized by Citizens United, the conservative political action group best known as the organization that won the right for nonprofit organizations to make unlimited contributions to political campaigns.
Twenty speakers were confirmed for Saturday’s event, including Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, real estate mogul Donald Trump and former New York Gov. George Pataki. It also included a handful of people who will not be seeking the Republican nomination, including prominent strategist Frank Luntz.
With the stage still perilously crowded, the candidates, both official and not, made an effort to land memorable lines while discussing things including foreign policy, the national debt and immigration.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz told his audience U.S. foreign policy should take its cues from the popular film franchise “Taken.” “We will look for you, we will find you, and we will kill you," Cruz said.
Trump, who has made a habit of running for president, or at least intimating he might, received a standing ovation when he laid out his attitude toward paid interests. “The lobbyists will come and see me, but I don’t give a s--- about lobbyists,” Trump said.
Rep. Steve King of Iowa, whose remarks are a frequent topic of discussion on both left- and right-leaning political talk shows, offered a novel immigration proposal. “Every time we let an immigrant in, we’ll deport a leftist,” King said.
A live stream of the event can be found on the Freedom Summit’s website.