Washington (CNN) – David Keene, the organizer of CPAC opened the three-day conference by addressing the appearance of potential presidential candidates before the conservative crowds.
"You will see, hear and I hope question many of the people who wake up in the morning and think they're going to be president," Keene said.
He then joked that the group won't hear from all of them because "we didn't have enough days to accommodate everyone who thinks they should be president."
Keene described the conference as "iconic art of the American political scene" and described what has happened in the last two years an "awakening," citing town halls about health care, the Tea Party movement and Republican gains in Congress in the last election.
"(This was an) awakening that became real even to some skeptics when a lot of the folks who had poo pooed this awakening lost their jobs in November," Keene said.