Republicans didn't have any trouble finding ammunition to fire at the Obama administration or at liberal Democrats during the three-day Conservative Political Action Conference held late last week in Washington D.C.

Whether it's Benghazi, Obamacare, the jackboot tactics of the IRS or the government's snooping on Americans, much of Team Obama's second term has been in damage control, trying to stem the tide of scandals. Much to Democrats' dismay, the main investigations have just gotten started so the negative news coverage won't be ending anytime soon.

For those seeking to be the next Ronald Reagan of the Republican party, there's no better place to gain exposure than at the Conservative Political Action Conference. It's also important to anyone considering abid for the White House. Last week's lineup included high-profile young guns like Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as well as established GOP stars Rand Paul of Kentucky and former Alaska Gov. Sara Palin.

There were other lesser known members of the party, like Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Mike Lee of Utah, who earned enthusiastic applause at the conference. Johnson said the party needed to adopt some of the same healthy distrust in our government that the founders intended in order to remind the voters about limited government.

"What this audience cared about was their distrust of our national government, and Paul and Rubio and Johnson too got such big rounds of applause when they mentioned it," said Jim Martin, chairman of the 60 Plus Association, a conservative alternative to AARP.

Even party newcomers like Mia Love, who rose to national prominence last year after being given a prime time speaking slot at the Republican National Convention, and Ben Carson, the pediatric surgeon at Johns Hopkins, who criticized Obamacare and taxes with President Obama sitting only a few feet away at last year's National Prayer Breakfast, fired up the conservative base.

When Carson explains how a person in power would go about destroying a nation, it didn't take a genius to know who he was talking about.

"I would create division among the people, encourage a culture of ridicule for basic morality and the principles that made and sustained the country, undermine the financial stability of the nation, and weaken and destroy the military. It appears coincidentally that those are the very things that are happening right now," Carson said.

The Conservative Political Action group rededicated its mission after Obama took over the White House and vowed to fundamentally transform America. In 2010, the ceremonial signing of a one-page document that sought to unify conservatives was held at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate. Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina talked about the importance of the document to bind all conservatives.

"America became the world's greatest nation because of the freedom of our people to take risks and succeed without the heavy hand of government dragging them down," DeMint said. "This didn't happen by accident. Our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution to limit our federal government's ability to interfere with our lives.

"Unfortunately, many of our elected leaders have forgotten this. They see no limits and create new government programs to address every problem. This has led to crushing debt and crippling taxes that threaten to pass on to our children and grandchildren a nation that is weaker than the one we inherited. We must act boldly if we're going to save freedom."

Three years later, as the nation is looking for strong leadership and direction, DeMint's words still resound as loud as ever. Yesterday being Father's Day, it would be great if more men would be as concerned about the kind of country that their children and grandchildren will be inheriting from this generation.

By Jim Zbick

jzbick@tnonline.com