Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. John Cornyn kicked off the second day of the Conservative Political Action Conference with the message that American decline is reversible with just a change in the White House.
"We don't have to accept recent history. We just have to change the presidency. It's not too late for America to lead," Perry said to a raucous crowd, which welcomed him with a standing ovation early Friday morning.
Cornyn, who just this week won a Texas senatorial primary, told the crowd that the president has not been held responsible for his policies, and that the conservative movement needed to build a "new culture of accountability" to counter him.
"For five years, he's advocated for a larger, more intrusive federal government. For five long years, the president has failed to take responsibility for his own actions," the Texas senator said. "We must hold those in public office to the highest standard of accountability ... unaccountability has always been the refuge of autocrats.”
Perry was clearly a hit at the conference, following his initial standing ovation with audience applause at issues as diverse as advocating "a little rebellion" on the "battlefield of ideas," continuing federal mail delivery on Saturdays, and reform of personal injury law.
"A little rebellion now and then is a good thing," Perry said, citing the economic growth in states led by Republican governors as evidence against the "tired old recipe" of high taxes and regulations "that are larger than a 30-ounce Big Gulp.”
Cornyn argued that “the status quo is not written in stone,” and that conservatives needed to support Republican efforts to take back the Senate and the White House.
"We need to hold the House of Representatives in this next election, and then we must take back the Senate ... we must lead the charge all over the electoral map ... that's how we will take back the White House in 2016,” he said. "Let's win, and let's bring accountability back to Washington, D.C."