CPAC: A trip down memory lane
March 6th, 2014
07:59 AM ET
9 months ago

CPAC: A trip down memory lane

It’s March. It’s madness. So it must be time for… CPAC.

The annual conference of conservative activists has long been a coveted event for conservative activists, politicians and ladder-climbers.

Potential presidential candidates go to get noticed. Aspiring politicians go to make connections. And young college Republicans go for the party. (Yes, we are generalizing. Not everyone falls into these categories. Calm down.)


It often comes with some controversy. Offensive statements, personal exclusion and political maneuvering – things that come with any large group or gathering – generate headlines.

Here are some of the news- and noteworthy components of CPAC:

Atheists welcome. Or not: This year’s conference hasn’t even started and CPAC, which is run by the American Conservative Union, allowed the American Atheists organization to host a  booth at this year’s conference. But after a story in CNN that quoted its president as saying “the Christian right should be angry that we are going in to enlighten conservatives,” the ACU disinvited the Atheists.

Chris Christie dissed: Last year about this time, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was the next hottest thing in the Republican Party. I mean, he hadn’t closed down any bridges yet.

But he was not invited to speak at CPAC because he wasn’t conservative enough.

“That’s a suicidal death wish,” Rep, Peter King, R-New York, said at the time.

In retrospect, who was it a death wish for? CPAC is going strong and Christie’s numbers are tanking post-Bridgegate.

But this year, Christie was invited and will speak. His scandals have actually increased his support among some conservatives.

Gays Invited. Then not: A pattern seems to be emerging. In a breakthrough moment for gays and conservatives, the Republican lesbian and gay group, GOProud was invited to CPAC in 2011. But after receiving criticism from some apparently influential conservatives, GOPround has not been invited back since.

Jimmy LaSalvia, co-founder of GOProud, told CNN that “there were folks… that wanted us barred from CPAC simply because we're gay. And they took advantage of the leadership change at the organization and were successful in keeping us out this year.”

‘Severely conservative’: During his 2012 presidential run, when Romney was trying to convince conservatives that he was one of them, he made the cringe-worthy remark that plagued the remainder of his presidential campaign as Republicans thought he was trying way to hard and Democrats laughed under their breath.

Romney described himself as "a severely conservative Republican governor" on the ground of social issues.

Sarah Palin: After setting the conservative political world on fire with her emergence as John McCain’s running mate in 2008, Sarah Palin refused an invitation to speak at CPAC in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Finally in 2012, she agreed and was the closing speaker.

She told President Barack Obama that conservatives are “through” with him.

The infamous straw poll: Every year, CPAC participants vote on who they want to be the next President. Usually there are at least a dozen names on the ballot, sometimes more in the years furthest away from a presidential election.

Last year, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul won, following in the footsteps of his father, three-time presidential candidate, Rep. Ron Paul.

Other notable winners include future Presidents – Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, the only two in its nearly 40 year history who went on to the oval office.

With four wins, Mitt Romney has won the most times, followed by Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp.


Filed under: CPAC • Mitt Romney • Sarah Palin
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Hector Slagg

    Holy Ignorance!,
    Being Conservative is a common sense position not a Political position. To look at the Liberal position all you have to look at is the National Debt, now over 17 Trillion, and growing. The conservatives know the bill will come due and the common person will pay the bill, like it or not. If you look closely you will see the last big Liberal Idea, Obama Care is slowly slipping below the waves. As The Obama Administration is doing delay after delay. There are many "Upsets" still over the horizon. I see Staples is shuttering about 225 Stores in the News today. BUT, you can take all the Cheap Shots you want to, it won't change the outcome!

    March 6, 2014 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I can't type today. Fat fingers and sneaking at work per usual....Pardon.

    March 6, 2014 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  3. wendel

    to the music of send in the clowns republicans once again showed the world they are the party of 50 years ago. Palin really? Mitt the 47% and old Randy ? Christy has bite the dust so who next ????

    March 6, 2014 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  4. Wake up People!

    Actually anonymous, if we gave states so many rights, I'd probably be enslaved right now. Also Rand is on record as saying if he had been around he wouldn't have voted for civil rights. That is ALL I need to know about him. Lynda is right on point.

    March 6, 2014 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  5. Lynda/Minnesota

    Anonymous
    @Lynda,
    I'm curious as to why you say Rand Paul panders.
    -------------------–

    I say it because it is what I believe to be the truth. When Rand Paul works WITHIN his party to change the Republican platform beyond his rhetoric, I will then rethink his "positions" beyond that of simple rhetorical pandering for votes.

    In other words, when he walks the walk and not simply talk the talk, I'll be open to re-evaluating Rand Paul's ... er, positions.

    Then again, I am not a Libertarian pretending to be a Republican (or is it a Republican pretending to be a Libertarian).

    Whatever.

    March 6, 2014 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Lynda, let me clarify my post just a tad.
    THIS year Rand Paul knows what to say, where to speak and what side of an issue to take and stand up for.
    I have a clear recollection of 2012 Rand Paul.
    You have been keeping track of him a lot longer than I have so I will bow to your wisdom.
    However: To Ceasar what is of Ceasar my friend.
    Rand is actually making sense. Now, as to whether or not we should believe the hype, that's another issue. But he is putting his actions where his mouth is Lynda. That does not make him viable. But he is standing out in a postive way.
    Just saying babe...

    March 6, 2014 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  7. Rudy NYC

    "....He feels that gay marriage is a state's rights issue and if a state wants to legalize it they have every right to do that which falls in line with a liberal's belief in civil liberties. ..."
    -----------------------------–
    Wrong. States do not "legalize" gay marriage. States have been passing laws to make it illegal. Right? Such laws are unconstitutional in more ways than one. Your narrow view of a your stereoptypical world is astonishingly naive.

    March 6, 2014 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    Anonymous
    @Lynda,
    I'm curious as to why you say Rand Paul panders.
    --------------------

    In a word? Intuition.

    March 6, 2014 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  9. Obama Approval Rating = 38% and falling fast

    It’s March. It’s madness. So it must be time for… CPAC.
    -–

    A rather biased statement CNN.

    March 6, 2014 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  10. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Dominican mama

    Just saying babe...
    ----------

    I understand and respect your opinion, absolutely. Truth be told, of the two, I prefer Ted Cruz. With Cruz one knows where one stands. I don't trust Rand Paul.

    March 6, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  11. Wake up People!

    Once again Lynda..... Get out of my head!! I don't trust either of them but at least you know what you're getting with Cruz. I do believe Rand is just "telling them what they want to hear".

    I was always told if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

    March 6, 2014 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    Hector Slagg wrote

    Holy Ignorance!,
    Being Conservative is a common sense position not a Political position. To look at the Liberal position all you have to look at is the National Debt, now over 17 Trillion, and growing. .... ....
    -------------------------
    Where's the money going, Hector? Don't forget Bush started with a $300 billion annual surplus and handed of a $1.5 trillion annual deficit. Where's the borrowed money going? It was going mostly to Bush's tax cuts, wars, and Part D. None of that stuff existed before he came into office.

    Don't forget that Bush was warned that his policies would create trillion dollar deficits within a decade by his own advisor.

    March 6, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  13. Ol' Yeller

    @Hector
    "Being Conservative is a common sense position not a Political position. To look at the Liberal position all you have to look at is the National Debt, now over 17 Trillion, and growing."
    I usually don't bother wasting my time replying to one of your nonsensical posts, but I I couldn't let this pass (for all the good it will do). Let me just make this point, Mr. Conservative.... for 200 + years this country operated in the black. Then King/Gawd Conservative regan came along and changed the tax code to benefit the rich and in 8 years we went from the black to 4 trillion in debt. This continued until Clinton got us back in black (anyone who thought AC/DC gets bonus points) and then along came dubya and his two wars (he left off the books) and more tax cuts for the rich and his bailout of the banks (not to mention the worldwide economic downturn)....
    So if you somehow are trying to convince us that this 17 trillion in debt (much of it interest from bush's debts) occured the day after Obama became President, then you better present some real facts to back that up and not just some inane comments about the amount of the debt.
    But, please... tell us more about your superior 'common sense'....

    March 6, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  14. TheObserver

    Itinerary for the Day at the CPAC:

    8:00 Meet and Greet Breakfast

    9:00 – 12:00 Discuss why the violence in Ukraine is Barack Obama's fault

    12:00 – 1:00 Lunch

    12:00 – 8:00 – Discuss why Benghazi was Barack Obamas fault.
    Testimonials – How has Obamacare failed you?
    Discuss why Vladimir Putin is better than Barack Obama.
    Discuss why Republicans would have NEVER made the decisions Barack made.
    Racial slur symposium (In honor of George Wallace) – It's been almost 2 full terms for Barack. Are there any racial slurs we can call him that we haven't used yet?

    8:00 – Closing
    Special guest appearance from Rush Limbaugh and Don Imus. They will be discussing why white Anglo-Saxon Christian people are just plain better than everyone else. Don't miss it!

    Am I in the ballpark?

    March 6, 2014 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
1 2