Mitt Romney, under suspicion by many conservatives because of his past as a center-right governor and political candidate, tried to make himself clear Friday:
"I know conservatism because I have lived conservatism."
The former Massachusetts governor got a good response from the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference, a three day convention of activists.
Here's how Romney explained his conservatism:
"I was raised in a home shaped by and rooted in conservative values. My mother’s father – my grandfather – came to America from England. As a teenager, he was alone in a new country, but he risked it all for a chance at religious liberty and economic opportunity.
"You’ve probably heard how proud I am of my father. He was born to American parents living in Mexico. When he was five, they moved back to the United States. His dad was a builder who went bust more than once. My Dad grew up poor and never had a chance to finish his college degree. But he believed in a country where the circumstances of one’s birth were not a barrier to achievement. And with hard work, he became the head of a car company and the Governor of the great state of Michigan.
"The values that allowed my parents to achieve their dreams are the same values they instilled in my siblings and me. Those aren’t values I just talk about; they are values that I live every day. My 42-year marriage to my wife, Ann; the life we’ve built with our five sons; and the faith that sustains us – these conservative constants have shaped my life.
"In business, if you’re not fiscally conservative, you’re bankrupt. I spent 25 years balancing budgets, eliminating waste, and keeping as far away from government as was humanly possible. I did things conservatism is designed for – I started new businesses and turned around broken ones. And I am not ashamed to say that I was very successful at it."