Progressive activist Van Jones stunned the audience at CPAC Thursday when he admitted that the "conservative movement" had accomplished more than the left did on a policy matter very near and dear to his beliefs.
"Here's the deal," he told the audience, "the conservative movement in this country, unfortunately for my point of view, is now the leader on this issue of [criminal justice] reform in that you look at Mississippi, a rock rib totally conservative, former jailer is a governor there, Governor Bryant.
"Governor Bryant has cut the prison population and crime at the same time," he continued. "[Former Governor Nathan] Deal in Georgia cut the prison population and crime at the same time. [Former Texas Governor] Rick Perry cut the prison population, prison expenditures, and crime at the same time.
"Ohio, South Carolina," Jones added. "What you're seeing now are Republican governors being tough on the dollars, tough on crime, and shrinking prison populations and showing the rest of the country that it can be done.
"My problem is I now have a conservative movement that, for libertarian reasons, for Christian conservative reasons, and for fiscally conservative reasons, is actually doing a great job on what is supposed to be my issue!" he joked. "You are stealing my issue!"
At this point the audience applauded and beckoned him to join the Republican party.
"I'm going to stay in my party! I'm going to stay in my party!" he responded.
"But what I wanna say, take some dadgum credit for being smart!" he added. "Take some dadgum credit for getting it right!"
Republicans passed the First Step Act in December 2018 to ease mandatory minimum sentences. The bill also provided for programs intended to lower the recidivism rate for prisoners.
President Donald Trump had a warm moment during his State of the Union speech where he welcomed a man who had been released under the criminal justice reform act.
"Matthew is the very first person to be released from prison under the First Step Act. Thank you Matthew," he said to Matthew Charles in the audience.
"Welcome home," Trump said to great applause.
Fox News' political analyst Brit Hume posted the video of Jones' comments to his Twitter account, responding simply, "This is striking."
Here's the video of the CPAC segment:
CPAC 2019 - A Conversation on Criminal Justice Reform w/ Van Jones & Matt Schlapp www.youtube.com