Conservatives Regroup After 2012 Elections, Look Ahead

40th Conservative Political Action Conference Draws Thousands of Activists >
A towering stack of Obamacare regulations stands on the stage as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) approaches the podium to deliver his speech.

March 14-16, 2013--Billed as three days of "blockbuster speeches, policy discussions and networking opportunities – all celebrating the shared principles of smaller government, a strong national defense and traditional American values," the 40th Conservative Political Action Conference drew thousands of conservative activists from around the country to the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center near Washington, DC. The theme of this year's CPAC was "America’s Future: The Next Generation of Conservatives...New Challenges, Timeless Principles." 

Attendees sought to understand the outcome of the 2012 elections, where conservatives failed in their efforts to make President Obama a one-term president and gain control of the Senate.  Speakers and attendees apportioned blame to the Republican establishment, consultants, the mainstream media, Romney and his campaign, and other causes.  In general, however, the conference kept to a forward track, addressing current and future challenges in building the conservative movement. 
Obamacare was a frequent target; reversing the law remains a top priority for conservatives.

Among the speakers were many leaders mentioned as possible 2016 Republican presidential candidates, including Sens.Rand Paul (KY) and Marco Rubio (FL), Rep. Paul Ryan (WI), Govs. Bobby Jindal (LA), Rick Perry (TX) and Scott Walker (WI), former Gov. Jeb Bush (FL), former Sen. Rick Santorum (PA), and Dr. Benjamin Carson.  Donald Trump and former Gov. Sarah Palin also addressed the conference.  New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a top 2016 prospect, was not invited; according to one news account his recent positions on guns didn't sit well with conference organizers. 

In the much-watched straw poll, 2,930 registrants participated.  Sen. Rand Paul finished first at 25% followed by Sen. Marco Rubio at 23%, former Sen. Rick Santorum at 8% and Gov. Chris Christie at 7% (>). 

CPAC Scenes

Selected Speakers and Panels
March 14
ACU Chair Al Cardenas
Sen. Marco Rubio (FL)
Sen. Rand Paul (KY)
Gov. Rick Perry (TX)
Sen. Tim Scott (SC)
March 15
[Faith & Freedom Coalition Prayer Breakfast]
Donald Trump
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY)
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (NH)
Rep. Paul Ryan (WI)
Panel "CSI Washington, DC: November 2012 Autopsy"
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (introduced by Gov. Nikki Haley)
Panel "The Pro-Life Fight: 40 Years After Roe v. Wade"
Rep. Steve Scalise (LA)
Gov. Bobby Jindal (LA)
March 16
Gov. Scott Walker (WI)
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (introduced by Callista Gingrich)
Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN)
Former Alabama Rep. Artur Davis
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz)
Phyllis Schlafly, founder of Eagle Forum

Exhibits and Around and About
in somewhat alphabetical order:  General Views  |  Committee to Draft Judge Andrew Napolitano for President in 2016  |  Conservative Action Fund  |  Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity  | The Heartland Institute  |  Let Freedom Ring  |  Media Research Center Numbers USA  |  NRA News  |  One America News Network  |  Patriot Voices [Rick Santorum]  |  Reclaim America PAC [Marco Rubio]  |  Red Alert Politics  |  Regnery [author Wayne Allyn Root]  |  Republican National Committee  |  Resourceful Earth  |  The Rusty Humphries Show  |  Stand with Rand  |  Tea Party Patriots  | 
Alan West   |  WTF? [book by C. Edmund Wright]  |  Young Americans for Liberty  |  Handing out flyers promoting Chris Christie  |  Book signings: Jeb Bush, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum  |  Voting in the straw poll.

Democracy in Action Coverage of Past CPACs:
2012  |  2011  |  2010  |  2009  |  2008  |  2007  |  2006  |  2005