The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is a predominantly libertarian conference consisting of overwhelmingly white male college students, many of whom attend for free or at heavily discounted rates. CPAC historically met in Washington, D.C., in February or March, with attendance increasing beyond 10,000. CPAC outgrew the largest hotels in D.C., and in 2014 through 2020 convened outside of D.C. in the massive Marriott Gaylord hotel in National Harbor, Maryland.
In 2020, “New Venture Fund, whose mission statement revolves around 'Race, Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion Commitment,' issued a cash grant of $183,250 to the ACU” (which runs CPAC). In March 2022, the head of CPAC, Matt Schlapp, urged "compassion" for the biological man Lia Thomas whose victories in NCAA women's swimming championships sparked outrage by conservatives and others.
Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio finished 1–2 in the straw poll for president at CPAC in 2016. Donald Trump, who dropped out of the event at the last minute, finished in a distant third place, but then won the Republican nomination and the presidency. Ron Paul won the straw poll among attendees for president in 2012, but Mitt Romney came in a close second. Romney then won the Republican nomination for president but lost in the general election.
|Most important issues facing the nation||Candidate for president|
|2010||Reducing size of Federal Government (52%)||Reducing Government Spending (33%)||The war on terrorism (18%), Lowering taxes (18%)||Ron Paul (31%)||Mitt Romney (22%)||Mitt Romney|
|2020||Immigration/Border all(46%)||Constitutional rights (41%)||Taxes/Budget/Spending (38%)||not held (incumbent Donald Trump presumptive)|
|2021 (1)||Election integrity (62%)||Constitutional rights (48%)||Immigration/Border wall (35%)||Donald Trump (55%)||Ron DeSantis (21%)||TBD|
|2021 (2)||Voter ID and election integrity||Constitutional rights||Immigration/border wall||Donald Trump (70%)||Ron DeSantis (21%)|
Ronald Reagan AwardEdit
Each year the special Ronald Reagan Award is given to a rising star in the conservative movement, and there have been some tremendous recipients in the 1990s and 2000s. In 2010, this award went to the Tea Parties.
- See also: O'Sullivan’s First Law
In recent years CPAC has been dominated by impostors who are not really conservative, and Donald Trump even canceled his appearance at CPAC in early March 2016 to avoid a Leftist-type walkout plot against him. In 2018, CPAC banned the pro-family conservative organization MassResistance for its opposition to pro-transgender policies being imposed in Massachusetts schools, and it simultaneously allowed the pro-homosexuality Log Cabin Republicans to attend. By caving into the homosexual agenda, CPAC has largely abandoned its tradition of being the largest annual gathering of conservatives. Also in 2018, CPAC caved to the gun control lobby by keeping the NRA's president's name off its speaking schedule and refusing to advertise his speech. CPAC also canceled a free speech panel after it tried forcing out one of the attendees due to controversial comments he made. The head of the American Conservative Union, which runs CPAC, was Al Cardenas from 2011 to 2014, who is an outspoken critic of Donald Trump and even called him "the great whiner" on the same day that Trump made a specular appearance at CPAC on February 28, 2021.
Students for Life is the largest annual conservative conference that has a balance between men and women in attendance. It sells out with its annual conference of 2000 in D.C., around the time of the March for Life. It also succeeds without the libertarian and big money dominance that increasingly plagues CPAC. But CPAC does remain a good counterweight to the neocons who dominate the Fox News Channel.
In 2010, the CPAC audience demonstrates its lack of social conservatism by ranking issues in the following importance:
- 85%: reducing government and government spending
- 10%: eliminating abortion
- 1%: stopping same-sex "marriage"
There was, however, virtually unanimous opposition among attendees to the policies of the Obama Administration.
Since 2015, CPAC has been increasingly shifting to the Left on immigration, or, at least, deemphasizing the issue. CPAC president Matt Schlapp is a lobbyist for a firm that promotes importing foreign workers.
In 2020, humorist and former The Rebel Media journalist Gavin McInnes and InfoWars correspondent Owen Shroyer were kicked out of CPAC for no specific reasons. Although Shroyer blamed TPUSA founder Charlie Kirk for being kicked out, most likely due to an earlier awkward interaction between the two, there is no evidence that he was behind that incident.
In 2021, despite the event being located in Florida, which does not mandate mask-wearing, CPAC forced attendees to wear masks because of COVID-19, and were met with jeers from the crowd of mostly young adults for implementing and enforcing this authoritarian measure. A prominent conservative influencer was even forced to leave for refusing to wear one. Others were ejected for similar reasons. The mask rules led to another controversy, that of the accused use of the Nazi Odal Rune as a stage format. The design firm who created the stage Design Foundry took responsibility for the design of the stage and stated that social distancing requirements led to its stage layout.
- CPAC: Conservatives Plot Course for Election Integrity Push (en-US) (2021-03-03).
- Trump Wins CPAC Straw Poll for 2024 Presidential Nominee (en-US) (2021-02-28).
- Hamilton, Katherine (2021-07-11). Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis Lead CPAC Straw Poll (en).
- Multiple references:
- Conservative Group Banned from Conservative Conference. America's Survival. February 13, 2018. Retrieved February 15, 2018.
- Berry, Susan (February 14, 2018). MassResistance Pro-Family Group Banned at CPAC. Breitbart News. Retrieved February 15, 2018.
- Moore, Art (February 14, 2018). CPAC bans pro-family group for 'tone' toward 'gays'. WND. Retrieved February 15, 2018.
- Mainwaring, Doug (February 15, 2018). Top U.S. conservative conference bans pro-family group, approves pro-LGBT. LifeSiteNews. Retrieved February 15, 2018.
- Delk, Josh (February 20, 2018). CPAC keeps NRA leader's name off schedule. The Hill. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
- Shaw, Adam (February 21, 2018). NRA boss keeps details of CPAC speech concealed, as gun control fight heats up. Fox News. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
- Multiple references:
- Pollak, Joel B. (February 21, 2018). Free Speech Panel at CPAC Canceled by Pamela Geller After Gateway Pundit Jim Hoft Banned. Breitbart News. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
- Geller, Pamela (February 21, 2018). Geller: CPAC Joins the Leftist Social Media Giants in Censoring Conservatives. Breitbart News. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
- Lima, Cristiano (February 21, 2018). Speaker pulled from panel alongside CPAC over Florida shooting controversy. Politico. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
- Sussis, Matthew (February 28, 2019). CPAC 2019 Offers Little for Immigration Restrictionists. CPAC. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
- Binder, John (March 1, 2019). Exclusive–Kris Kobach: CPAC Focusing on ‘Other Stuff’ While Immigration Is ‘Number One Issue’. Breitbart News. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
- Mickey Kaus. Twitter. February 28, 2019. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
- Design firm takes responsibility for CPAC stage controversy