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"Mount Vernon Statement" Aims to Renew Conservative Principles

More than 80 conservative leaders will gather near the home of President George Washington tomorrow to unveil a new declaration of the fundamental principles driving right-wing grassroots movements.

The Mount Vernon Statement will be signed at Collingwood Library, which was originally part of George Washington's River Farm, by a delegation led by Edwin Meese III, attorney general during the Reagan administration.

The Washington Post reports statement (which will be available here on Wednesday) is modeled after the 1960 Sharon Statement, a document signed at the home of William F. Buckley that spurred the modern conservative movement.

"The federal government today ignores the limits of the Constitution, which is increasingly dismissed as obsolete and irrelevant," reads a portion of the statement, Politico reports. "Some insist that America must change, cast off the old and put on the new. But where would this lead — forward or backward, up or down? Isn't this idea of change an empty promise or even a dangerous deception?"

The conservative groundswell among citizens that has manifested in the Tea Party movement is based in an interest in reviving "constitutional conservatism," the organizers contend, and the Mount Vernon Statement aims to reintroduce new activists to the nation's constitutional principles.

Tea Party activists "are reading the Constitution with a fresh interest and discovering that the type of limited government which the framers had in mind, and which is quite evident to anyone who reads the Constitution, is in 21st century terms profoundly conservative," Colin Hanna, president of the grassroots group Let Freedom Ring, told the Hotsheet.

Hanna will be among the Mount Vernon Statement signers tomorrow, who were brought together by the Conservative Action Project, a new group organizing opposition against Democratic leadership.

The signing was timed to coincide with the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which starts on Thursday. CPAC will feature a number of conservative politicians, some of whom are considered the stars of the Republican party, such as Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, Indiana Rep. Mike Pence and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. However, Hanna said that the Republican party "is the beneficiary by default of the conservative reawakening."

"I think what's happening is more philosophical than partisan," he said.

The GOP has made some efforts to embrace the Tea Party movement, but has generally kept the movement at arms-length. Today, however, Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele met with Tea Party leaders to discuss campaign tactics and conservative principles.

Hanna said that today's meeting could be a part of a "natural coming together, which doesn't constitute one group taking over another group, but rather is a new discovery of common ground."

"That's what the Mount Vernon Statement is designed to encourage," he said.

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