Location, Location, Location
Citing the continued growth of the conference in its 40th year, CPAC moved outside of the District of Columbia holding the gathering at the enormous Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor in Maryland. The site, removed from the bustle of the capital but close enough for chauffeured politicians to reach without too much difficulty, was tricky for the hoi polloi to access as one might need to take a combination of bus, metro (there isn’t a stop in National Harbor) and/or boat (!) to reach modern commercial/residential development.
To supplement the mass transit deficiencies, CPAC ran shuttles from Union Station, George Washington University and Reagan National Airport to spare attendees the $40-50 in cab fare (each way) to the conference location.
A Panorama of Attendees and Speakers
Though liberal provocateurs and their willing accomplices in the established media are trying to make CPAC look like a klan meeting due to an isolated incident in a breakout session in a side room, diversity could be seen all over the main hall and speaker’s rostrum.
CPAC featured a number of black conservative political leaders including Saratoga Springs mayor and former congressional candidate Mia Love, South Carolina US Senator Tim Scott and ex-Congressman Allen West and Arthur Davis.
One of the most eagerly anticipated speakers was Dr. Ben Carson, the Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon who became an overnight favorite of conservatives after his comments at the National Prayer Breakfast.
Dr. Carson delivered an address that covered the importance of God in society, expanding education opportunities for impoverished youth, his own background and economics. The pioneering surgeon was enthusiastically received by the packed convention hall and his remarks drew multiple standing ovations.
Indian-American governors Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley and Hispanic US Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio also had prominent speaking roles at CPAC.
Mitt Says Thanks
Former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney dropped by CPAC to offer generic thanks to those who helped with his campaign.
While not a favorite of the conservative base (or many of the speakers at the conference), Romney generally fared well in the annual straw polls, even defeating John McCain in the 2008 attendee survey after pulling out of the race.
Romney delivered his speech before a packed house and was greeted enthusiastically.
Though at times sounding like a tourist when reflecting on his bid to replace the president and not dwelling on any of his mistakes or errors as a candidate, Romney pledged to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with conservative activists in the quest to restore Republican control of the White House.
Sarah Fires Up the Base
You didn’t see her at the 2012 Republican National Convention (the 2008 vice-presidential nominee got “Christie’d”), but Sarah Palin didn’t disappoint at this year’s CPAC.
The former Alaska governor let the White House, Romney, the GOP establishment and even New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have it with both barrels.
The highlight of her address for the audience came when she became a bit parched and reached for a beverage tucked beneath the podium: a Big Gulp cup with Diet Dr. Pepper, a reference to the New York City mayor’s obsession with curbing junk food consumption/regulating people’s behavior.
Folks should not begrudge Palin a degree of resentment towards certain high-profile Republicans, as they have treated her like a pariah since the 2008 election. A few were undermining her credibility while she was on the ticket through unflattering and in some cases false leaks.
Though the Democrats like to “femagogue” about the Republican Party’s “War on Women”, Palin may very well be the only woman the GOP establishment has gone to war with.
After watching her fire up the crowd of conservative activists, I wondered why Palin was not invited to participate in the convention, especially since she connected better with the base than the nominee did.
How many other high-profile Republicans would literally give a “shout out” to the College Republicans?
While Palin won’t be the Republican presidential nominee, she also shouldn’t be hidden along with the Ark of the Covenant in a warehouse either.
Line of the Conference
“The popular media narrative is that this country has shifted away from conservative ideals, as evidenced by the last two presidential elections. That’s what they say. That might be true if Republicans had actually nominated conservative candidates in 2008 and 2012.” –Texas Governor Rick Perry on John McCain and Mitt Romney’s unsuccessful presidential bids. Romney and Perry often clashed during the 2012 presidential debates.