WASHINGTON – “Barack Obama is the poster child for the arrogance of government,” former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney told a packed and appreciative CPAC audience today.

Romney began his address to the Conservative Political Action Conference on a light note, getting a laugh when he explained Obama was a “good community organizer” for his ability to energize conservatives against him.

Throughout his speech, Romney said his business experience and his experience in politics have established his credentials as a bona fide conservative, and then he committed to the principles of constitutional government.

“I have been on the front lines of conservatism,” he told the CPAC audience, “and I expect to be on the front lines once again.”

He insisted Republicans must draw a strong contrast to Democrats on important policy issues affecting all Americans if Republicans intend to recapture the White House in November.

“We have to tell the nation why we want to win this election,” Romney said. “The election is not about getting enough votes, it’s about saving America. This country we love is in jeopardy.”

Romney said the failure of the Obama administration was a failure of ideology, as he identified himself as a conservative committed to the principles of the nation’s founding documents.

“History will record the Obama administration as the last gasp of failed liberalism in the conservative era to come,” he said. “Barack Obama is wrong. We conservatives do not want just to cling to God and our guns. We also want to cling to the Constitution.”

He championed America as a nation of free people exercising free will who can pursue their lives under their own direction, without relying on government to solve every problem.

“The choice is whether we want government to be of and about Washington or of and by ‘We the People,'” he said. “We conservatives believe in a free people believing in free enterprise.”

He explained that to win in November, he planned to set out a new vision for America.

“Right now, the federal government borrows 42 cents of every dollar. It’s immoral, it’s wrong and under my administration as president, it will come to an end.”

He vowed to balance the federal budget without raising taxes or cutting the military.

“I will start with the easiest budget cut of all,” he said to a standing ovation. “I will cut Obamacare. And if you want the United States to be a declining military power, I’m not your man. You have that president today.”

He vowed to cut the size of federal government and to tie the compensation of government employees to the compensation of workers in the private economy.

“Federal workers should not get a better deal than the working Americans who are paying their salaries,” he pledged.

He committed to reforming Social Security not by adjusting the benefits of those currently retired, but by redesigning the benefits of future retirees.

And he explained that he would reform entitlement programs, including Medicare, by establishing a variety of private savings plans operating in the private economy.

“I spent 25 years balancing budgets, eliminating waste, and staying as far away from government as possible,” he insisted, proclaiming his pride in his business success.

“I cast over 800 vetoes and I erased a $3 billion budget shortfall,” he said of his time as governor of Massachusetts. “Now, I want to get my hands on Washington, D.C.”

Romney spoke about his 42-year marriage with his wife, Ann, and their raising five sons in a family dedicated to belief in God.

“My presidency will be a pro-life policy,” he said. “I will assure that organizations like Planned Parenthood get no more federal support. I will make sure the U.N. funds that support a one-child policy in China get no more United States funding.”

“On my watch, I did my best to prevent Massachusetts from becoming the Las Vegas of gay marriage,” he said, proclaiming his support of the Defense of Marriage Act.

“In Massachusetts, I defended the right of the Catholic Church to pursue their faith by protecting their right to place adopted children into families headed by one mom and one dad.”

His own faith is Mormon.

He contrasted himself from competitor Newt Gingrich, noting that he “has never worked a day in Washington.”

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