MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. — Back-to-back appearances on the main stage for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich during Saturday's keynote lunch speeches at the Michigan Republican Leadership Conference provided contrast for how the two presidential hopefuls are approaching their races to the White House.
Speaking first during the packed Saturday lunch on the island, Cruz told the crowd of about 1,000 that "if you see a candidate that Washington embraces, run and hide."
What followed was an audacious agenda the senator laid out for his very first day in office, including taking direct aim at President Obama by rescinding "every single illegal and unconstitutional executive action" taken during his administration.
The GOP candidate said a Cruz administration would ensure the "persecution of religious liberty ends today," while also calling for a Department of Justice investigation into Planned Parenthood.
Among a laundry list of other items, from moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and abolishing the Department of Education, Cruz also saying he would immediately tear up the "disastrous" nuclear deal with Iran.
Speaking to reporters on the steps of the Grand Hotel following his speech, Cruz reiterated the importance he believes Michigan will play in helping elect the next president.
“We’re seeing in Michigan and across the country, that old Reagan coalition coming together," he told reporters. "It is my intention to campaign hard in the state of Michigan. We’re going to win Michigan, in the general election and we’re going to win it in the same way Ronald Reagan won nationally.”
Kasich took the stage shortly after Cruz, offering up an arguably more subdued approach before making what appeared to be a veiled jab at Cruz, declaring foreign policy cannot be driven by knee-jerk reactions.
"It's not just tearing up agreements because it gets you a round of applause," he told the crowd.
Kasich, who previously served in Congress for 18 years, told the crowd of Michigan Republicans he's proved himself in Washington D.C. to be a fiscally responsible conservative, where he's been considered a "chief architect" in balancing the federal budget before he left Congress in 2001.
"The premise behind a balanced budget is this: We do not have a right to pass debt onto our children," he said.
Rebuilding U.S. relationships abroad will also be a priority for the Ohio governor, but even more important, Kasich said is rebuilding bipartisan relationships here at home.
"Those are the relationships between Republicans and Democrats who have somehow forgotten that they’re there to serve America and not their political party," he said.
Saturday marked Kasich's fifth visit to Michigan during his campaign.
On Friday former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush gave the night's keynote address. Sen. Rand Paul and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina provided the keynote speeches during Saturday's dinner.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the sixth candidate who was slated to speak during the conference, cancelled his appearance early Saturday morning citing a grounded charter flight due to inclement weather.
The Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference is a biennial event. This year, a record 2,200 people registered to attend.