Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II helped kick off the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference with a measured address that was part rallying cry, part stump speech as the conservative darling gears up his push to become the next governor in what's now a solidly purple state.
Mr. Cuccinelli touched on his more high-profile endeavors — his battles with the federal government over President Obama's health care overhaul and Environmental Protection Agency regulations — as well as championing right-to-work laws.
"As attorney general, I've been a staunch opponent of illegal federal overreach of every kind and a defender of Virginia's right-to-work laws, and I'll continue to do that as governor," he told the CPAC gathering on its first official day.
Conservatives need to remind America, he said, that not only do more regulations mean less jobs — they mean "less freedom — less liberty. And liberty matters."
But Mr. Cuccinelli, who is running for governor this year in a state that just voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in consecutive elections for the first time since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, offered more than just red meat to the crowd, touching on specific state-based initiatives he is focused on in his current job.
"The governor of Virginia must be willing to speak for those citizens who do not have a voice," he said, adding that he wants to continue his work cracking down on online predators and combating human trafficking.
"I also want to continue to be a mighty voice for those who have been convicted of a crime but remain in prison because no one is willing to argue their innocence," he said. "And how many times have I seen my fellow tough-on-crime conservatives be not merely willing but excited to lock up every convict and throw away the key? If we really believe that no one is beyond redemption, we need to stop throwing away that key. ... Conservatives should lead the campaign to changing the culture of corrections in America."
Mr. Cuccinelli did manage to work in a few digs at his gubernatorial opponent, Democrat Terry McAuliffe, dinging President Clinton's former money man and chairman of the Democratic National Committee as an "unabashed liberal" who "believes the heavy hand of government must be involved in our daily lives."
Mr. Cuccinelli concluded by saying he sees a future where hard work is rewarded, success is a good thing, and one where children are taught about American exceptionalism.
"This is a nation worthy of our history and of the sacrifices of those who have gone before us," he said. "As conservatives, we need to preserve that history and share it articulately and aggressively with our fellow Americans."
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