CPAC: Conservatives gather at 'major center of gravity'
February 9th, 2012
10:21 AM ET
6 years ago

CPAC: Conservatives gather at 'major center of gravity'

Washington (CNN) - Flash back four years ago.

Mitt Romney dropped his bid for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination in his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference. The former Massachusetts governor, at the time one of the conservative alternatives to eventual GOP nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona, went on to win CPAC's much-watched presidential straw poll, the second of this three straight victories at the annual gathering of conservative leaders.

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Fast forward back to present day: Romney, now the front-runner in his second bid for the nomination, is getting ready to once again speak at CPAC, but this time, just days after stinging losses in three contests.

This time around, Romney is whom some conservatives are still seeking an alternative to.

This is the 39th edition of what is considered the largest and most influential gathering of conservative leaders and activists from across the country. Romney, as well as former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, will address the audience on Friday. The other major Republican presidential candidate, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, is skipping the conference to campaign in Maine, which is holding its caucuses this week, but his son, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, will speak at CPAC Thursday.

"Conservatives are the base of the movement and the right," Al Cardenas, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, the group that puts on CPAC, said Thursday on CNN's "Starting Point."

"A small handful of annual events have become a major center of gravity for conservatives. Of those, CPAC is perhaps the most high-profile and pivotal – especially in a presidential election year. There's much talk in the press about whether conservatives are fractured in their support for a particular issue or candidate – but conferences like CPAC can have a significant unifying effect," said Levi Russell, director of public affairs for Americans for Prosperity, a fiscally conservative political advocacy group that supports businesses and fights government regulations.

This year's edition of CPAC features what can be considered an all-star lineup of conservatives: former Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, former GOP presidential candidate and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who recently dropped her bid for the nomination, Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Congressmen Paul Ryan, Jim Jordan, Steve King, and Allen West, and governors Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Rick Scott of Florida and Scott Walker of Wisconsin.

CPAC will close Saturday with the results of the much-watched GOP presidential straw poll and Palin's speech. Romney's three straight victories from 2007-2009 have been followed by a trifecta of wins by Paul.

Thanks to Santorum's victories Tuesday in the Colorado and Minnesota caucuses and in a non-binding primary in Missouri, the race for the GOP nomination appears unsettled, with front-runner Romney having a hard time locking down support from conservatives and tea party activists.

"It will be interesting. We haven't had a real contested presidential race here at CPAC in two decades," adds Cardenas.

And that's why all eyes will be on CPAC this weekend.

"If CPAC was important in the battle for the Republican nomination, that importance has only intensified since Tuesday's results, said Doug Heye, a GOP strategist and former communications director for the Republican National Committee. "This is the best chance for the four remaining candidates to make the case to a wide swath of conservative voters - and activists - why they are the best choice to defeat Barack Obama."

Filed under: 2012 • CPAC 2012 • Republicans
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. The Real Tom Paine

    They actually have Walker and Scott on their list of speakers? My god, they are out of touch with reality. Walker will lose his job no matter how much out-of-state money he raises, and Scott will be destroyed by the electorate of Florida when he is up for re-election. CPAC is nothing more than a program for the clinically insane conservatives to develop their psychosis further. Can't wait to see the clips so I can laugh.

    February 9, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  2. The GOP opens mouth and inserts foot

    Major center of gravity? That means the GOP is a black hole sucking the life out of the planet and the universe in general.

    February 9, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  3. dreamer96

    The Republicans are scared to death, that after Obama ..America will not vote for old, corrupt, conservative, suppressors of all women, and minorities, white men again....even if they wave the bible in one hand, and a gun in the other hand..

    February 9, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  4. ThinkAgain

    Major center of gravity for an incredibly warped universe. These gatherings are strategy meetings for the ultra-rich to persuade the so-called Christian Republican base to vote for them, in exchange for promises to let them turn our country into a theocracy.

    Reminds me of Saudi Arabia, with the Saudi royal family owning and controlling everything and religious police keeping the general populace in line.

    All these oil types (Bush, Koch, etc.) are tight with the Saudis; is it any wonder they all share the same world view of religious subjugation and lack of freedom?

    February 9, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  5. The Real Tom Paine

    Yes, major center of gravity: how better to describe the weight of the egos and ingorance converging on one spot? I'm assuming they are also giving the usual junta of FOX " media stars" unfettered access to their co-workers in Uncle Rupert's hacking empire.

    February 9, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  6. Jilli

    Boy, all that hate and ignorance all housed in one spot. Amazing. That's not a baseless statement. Just look at the speakers list and the subjects of discussion. Here's info on just one...

    Following speeches from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Rep. Michele Bachmann, CPAC is hosting the panel "The Failure of Multiculturalism: How the pursuit of diversity is weakening the American Identity" with Peter Brimelow, the founder and head of

    VDARE is a White Nationalist website, run by Brimelow, which frequently publishes the works of anti-Semitic and racist writers and is named after Virginia Dare, who is believed to be the first child of English parents born in the Americas. Brimelow, an immigrant from Great Britain, expresses his fear of the loss of America's white majority, blames non-white immigrants for social and economic problems and urges the Republican Party to give up on minority voters and focus on winning the white vote. He also said that a New York City subway is the same as an Immigration and Naturalization Service waiting room, "an underworld that is not just teeming but also almost entirely colored."

    And republicans wonder why they're ranks are dwindling.

    February 9, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  7. Lynda/Minnesota

    "CPAC will close Saturday with the results of the much-watched GOP presidential straw poll and Palin's speech."

    Watched by whom, I wonder?

    February 9, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  8. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Almost TWICE as many people in this country identify themselves as conservatives versus liberals. The liberals have done their best to transform (aka destroy) this country. It is now up to the conservatives to save it from the same fate as Greece.

    February 9, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  9. Dave

    Yeah, CPAC is a "major center of gravity" all right. The gravity there is so strong, intellegent people can actually see their IQ's dimishing the closer they get to it.

    February 9, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  10. carly

    more like the major center of stupidity and obstruction.

    February 9, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  11. Mikey

    Do conservatives believe in gravity?

    February 9, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  12. sonny chapman

    A good bet Jesus of Nazareth wouldn't be there. Well, he did mingle with all walks of life. And he was pretty good at eluding the Pharisees. At least until he let Judas turn him in.

    February 9, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  13. Larry in Houston

    I'm laughing so hard at these posts on here, that I've spilled my coffee, and burned my hand. However, I Will Agree w/ Just about all of them.

    February 9, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  14. stevorino1

    Republicans sound like a bunch of spoiled brat rich kids wanting to have EVERYTHING they see in their pile or they will scream and make potty.

    February 9, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  15. Dominican mama 4 Obama



    Ummmm, whatever
    Lynda I laughed so hard at your response that tears rolled down my face at work!!

    February 9, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  16. vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    I am willing to bet if you ask 10 different people on the right what conservatism is you get 10 different answers. They really don't know. All they know is conserative GOOD everything else BAD.

    February 9, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Truth and Nothing But the Truth wrote:

    It is now up to the conservatives to save it from the same fate as Greece.
    Want to know what Greece's biggest problems are? Listen closely, it should sound familiar.

    They got into the mess they are in because conservatives implemented policies of deficit spending, claiming that eventual jobs growth would more than make up the difference. After years of waiting for the jobs growth to eventually pay off the tax cuts, the global financial crisis hit.

    Once the financial crisis hit, government revenue dropped, and annual deficits mushroomed. Conservatives called for draconian spending cuts and austerity measures. Liberals warned the efforts would backfire, creating more debt because of the revenue cuts that would result. Conservatives made their spending cuts, deficits and debt increased, and it is getting worse because conservatives are calling for even more of the same.

    How dumb can you become?

    February 9, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  18. The Real Tom Paine

    The Greek economy is reeling because it relies to an enormous extent on tourism, truth, unlike our economy. Your worhtless attempts to compare us to Greece ignore the obvious fact that our economy is far more multi-faceted than Greece. If you want a more apt comparison, compare Greece with TX or NV, which rely on huge infusions of both tourism and federal dollars to keep their states apporaching something solvent. Try to find a better comparison to make your doomsday predictions.

    February 9, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  19. Lynda/Minnesota

    Lynda I laughed so hard at your response that tears rolled down my face at work!!

    Good to see we are on the same page ... (et al) ! (I laughed when I read your comment too.)

    February 9, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  20. Larry L

    @Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    "Almost TWICE as many people in this country identify themselves as conservatives versus liberals."
    I believe you have for once said something accurate – but as usual you've missed the point. People identify themselves as "conservative" because they need to identify with a group of bigoted, xenophobic, homophobic, fearful white people. Progressive people are willing and able to examine each issue and make a decision – without the blessing (and sound bites) of the right-wing hate radio hosts or Fox News. The term "liberal" has been very successfully demonized by the rigfht-wing and very few progressive people want to be placed in a narrowly-defined group. Identification as either conservative or liberal indicates a mind closed to changes and unwilling to compromise. I find it interesting that some Republicans of the past would now be labeled wildly "liberal" – Abraham Lincoln comes to mind... and Dwight Eisenhauer... Even Ronald Reagan was famously quoted as expecting the wealthy to pay a higher percentage of their earnings in taxes... that crazy "liberal"... You may keep Richard Nixon and "W".

    February 9, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  21. Thomas

    I hope Ex Gov. Palin gives a much needed power point lecture and demonstration on the correct way to wear a condom and the importance of birth control .

    That would be a great way to close this years CPAC convention .

    February 9, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  22. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Rudy, your intentional deception about Greece are so easily proven. Google "Andreas Papandreou" and you'll find the SOCIALIST that started Greece to where it is today. Greece's "Obama" is you will....

    February 9, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  23. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    The Real Tom Paine - The Greek economy is reeling because it relies to an enormous extent on tourism
    The Greek economy is reeling under the weight of its massive debt and socialist programs that have people retiring in their FIFTIES! Here we are talking about RAISING it a few years and these socialists are deep into retirement, soaking up the sun and wine for decades in their early retirement.

    February 9, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  24. Four and The Door

    Larry L
    ... Even Ronald Reagan was famously quoted as expecting the wealthy to pay a higher percentage of their earnings in taxes...
    Today our country is pretty much completely supported by the high taxes of the high income earners. They pay much more in every way than middle class and certainly the lower earners who generally pay nothing.

    February 9, 2012 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  25. Rudy NYC

    @Truth – I pointed out what caused the problems. Just like the Postal Service was fine until the Republicans fixed it during their lame duck session in 2006.

    February 9, 2012 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
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