U.S. congressional candidates aplenty populate the halls of the CPAC hotel — but Mia Love still stands out. Every bit as electric in person as she seems in her campaign videos, she has a contagious smile and an irresistible frankness.
She came to CPAC in part to present as a member of a panel that discussed what the conservative message offers minorities. As a black female conservative, she said she knows conventional wisdom suggests she shouldn’t exist. Listen to her speak for a second, though, and it’s hard to believe she won’t succeed at convincing a few liberals and independents to move in her direction. The life she describes as possible for anyone who is willing to take personal responsibility sounds like the life most people want — a full, happy, meaningful and satisfying one.
I caught up with her in a hall outside the bloggers’ lounge — and instantly felt more cheerful just for having talked to her.
“Here’s the problem,” she said. “Government is not going to save us from ourselves; at some point, we’re going to have to take responsibility for ourselves, make decisions for ourselves and either reap the benefits or suffer the consequences of our own decisions.”
Like Allen West, who passed us in the hall and greeted Love with a brisk “Mayor” and nod of the head, Love seems to be the embodiment of the motto, “Take away excuses and all that’s left are results.”
As a mayor, wife, mother, runner, she’s gotten those results. Under her mayoral administration, for example, Saratoga Springs, Utah, received the highest Standard & Poors municipal rating available to a city of its class, at a time when many cities were being downgraded. Now, she wants to deliver on a national level as a congresswoman for Utah.
“We’ve got to change the way we deliver the message,” she said to me. “We need to start getting to people and saying, ‘Listen, you’re not going to get out of this life you’re dissatisfied with through government dependency.’ The more money that we funnel in and take from someone else — eventually it’s going to run out. What then? So, what we’re going to do is we’re going to give you opportunity to create and produce for yourself.”
Because of the example of her parents, she knows it’s possible.
“I’m a product of parents who came with $10 in their pockets when they legally immigrated to the United States, became citizens, never took a handout and were able to put three kids through school,” she explains. “And you know what they were grateful for? They were grateful for opportunities. [My dad] was so happy to work and be able to keep a little of what he had.”
Two sentences from Love reveal a better understanding of what it will take to create jobs than any politician who promises to create jobs through government.
“When we allow the private sector to create jobs, then they get more money in their pockets, the products are cheaper — and there are more jobs that open up,” Love said. “The policies that have been led by the left have done nothing but hurt the poor.”
She knows it’s gonna take entitlement reform to ensure the longterm fiscal sustainability of our nation, too.
“We’re certainly not going to pull the rug out from the people who are there because frankly they don’t have the option of going back to work,” she said. “But I’d like to be able to see my children be able to put money into a retirement of their choosing. That’s what I’d like to see.”
She still faces a caucus and a primary before her message will go up a liberal opponent — but, as her name recognition increases, her support continues to grow. Her campaign staff told me they’re optimistic she could so sweep the caucus that the primary will become unnecessary.
“I need as much support as possible to make this work,” Love said. “If we’re going to change the way our country is run today, then we’ve all got to get involved.”
If CPAC has reinforced one thing for me, it’s this: The presidential election is important, but retaining the House and taking back the Senate is essential. Let’s keep the spotlight on conservative candidates across the country!