Conservative Political Action Conference
|Conservative Political Action Conference|
CPAC 2019 logo
|Dates||February/March (dates vary)|
|Location(s)||National Harbor, Maryland, U.S.|
|Most recent||February 27–March 2, 2019|
|Organized by||American Conservative Union|
The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC; // SEE-pak) is an annual political conference attended by conservative activists and elected officials from across the United States and beyond. CPAC is hosted by the American Conservative Union (ACU).
In 2011, ACU took CPAC on the road with its first Regional CPAC in Orlando, Florida. Since then ACU has hosted regional CPACs in Chicago, Denver, St. Louis, and San Diego. Political front runners take the stage at this convention.
The conference was founded in 1974 by the American Conservative Union and Young Americans for Freedom as a small gathering of dedicated conservatives. Ronald Reagan gave the inaugural keynote speech at CPAC in 1974. Like the conference's speakers today, the presidential hopeful used it to share his vision for the country—"A Shining City Upon A Hill," words borrowed from John Winthrop.
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In 2014, CPAC extended an invitation to the American Atheists, which was immediately withdrawn on the same day due to controversial statements by AA's president David Silverman, who declared his group was going to "enlighten conservatives" and that "the Christian right should be threatened by us."
Richard Spencer, a figurehead of the Alt-Right and a white supremacist, entered the lobby of the Gaylord National Hotel on February 23, 2017 in an attempt to access CPAC. Organizers of the conference ejected him from the hotel as soon as his presence was discovered, citing his "repugnant [views which] ... have absolutely nothing to do with conservatism or what we do here" as cause for rejecting his admission to CPAC. ACU's Executive Director Dan Schneider castigated Spencer and the alt-right in a main-stage speech, calling them "garden-variety, left-wing fascists," and saying that the alt-right "despises everything [conservatives] believe in." Media members across the political spectrum, led by progressive journalists and opinion columnists, salvoed the intrusion as yet another attempt by hateful groups, like the alt-right, to conceal their bigotry within a legitimate philosophy. Opinion columns in The New York Times, and articles in Mother Jones and Rolling Stone voiced concern about the 2017 interview of ex-Trump Adviser Steve Bannon and ex-Trump Chief of Staff Reince Priebus with ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp, advocating for the American Right to reject the tenets of the alt-right (e.g. homophobia, xenophobia, sexism, racism, etc.).
Fringe groups at CPAC
The 2010 CPAC featured co-sponsorship for the first time from the John Birch Society and GOProud, a gay conservative group. GoProud is credited in the media for initiating talks with ACU to invite Donald Trump to speak at CPAC 2011. The 2011 CPAC speech Trump gave is credited for helping kick-start his political career within the Republican Party. Christopher R. Barron, co-founder of GOProud who would later not only endorse Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, but also launch LGBT for Trump, said he "would love to see Mr. Trump run for president."
The 2015 CPAC featured Jamila Bey who became the first atheist activist to address CPAC's annual meeting. The 2016 CPAC featured co-sponsorship for the first time from the Log Cabin Republicans.
Milo Yiannopoulos invitation
In December 2016, CPAC extended an invitation to conservative blogger Milo Yiannopoulos to speak at the event, despite his history of controversial views on feminism, racial minorities, and transgender issues. The invitation was canceled when the Reagan Battalion re-posted a video of 2016 and 2015 YouTube videos in which Yiannopoulos is heard making comments defending sexual relationships between adult men and 13-year-old boys, citing his own sexual experiences at that age with a Catholic priest.
2020 COVID-19 exposures
On Saturday, March 7, 2020, ACU confirmed that an attendee at the 2020 CPAC later tested positive for Coronavirus disease 2019. Senator Ted Cruz, Representatives Matt Gaetz, Paul Gosar, Doug Collins, and Mark Meadows had direct contact with the unnamed carrier, and announced their self-quarantine.
Annual straw poll
The annual CPAC straw poll vote traditionally serves as a barometer for the feelings of the conservative movement. During the conference, attendees are encouraged to fill out a survey that asks questions on a variety of issues. The questions regarding the most popular possible presidential candidates are the most widely reported. One component of CPAC is evaluating conservative candidates for president, and the straw poll serves generally to quantify conservative opinion.
|Year||Straw poll winner||% of votes||Second place||% of votes||Eventual Republican nominee|
|1974–5||Polling irregular?||Gerald Ford (1976)|
|1976||Ronald Reagan||n/a||George Wallace||n/a|
|1977–79||Polling irregular?||Ronald Reagan (1980)|
|1981–83||Not held (Ronald Reagan's nomination presumptive)||Ronald Reagan (1984)|
|1985||Not held||George H. W. Bush (1988)|
|1986||Jack Kemp||n/a||George H. W. Bush||n/a|
|1987||Jack Kemp||68||Pat Buchanan||9|
|1989–91||Not held (George H. W. Bush's nomination presumptive)||George H. W. Bush (1992)|
|1993||Jack Kemp||n/a||n/a||n/a||Bob Dole (1996)|
|1995||Phil Gramm||40||Bob Dole||12|
|1996||Bob Dole||26||Pat Buchanan||24|
|1997||Not held||George W. Bush (2000)|
|1998||Steve Forbes||23||George W. Bush||10|
|1999||Gary Bauer||28||George W. Bush||24|
|2000||George W. Bush||42||Alan Keyes||23|
|2001–04||Not held (George W. Bush's nomination presumptive)||George W. Bush (2004)|
|2005||Rudy Giuliani||19||Condoleezza Rice||18||John McCain (2008)|
|2006||George Allen||22||John McCain||20|
|2007||Mitt Romney||21||Rudy Giuliani||17|
|2008||Mitt Romney||35||John McCain||34|
|2009||Mitt Romney||20||Bobby Jindal||14||Mitt Romney (2012)|
|2010||Ron Paul||31||Mitt Romney||22|
|2011||Ron Paul||30||Mitt Romney||23|
|2012||Mitt Romney||38||Rick Santorum||31|
|2013||Rand Paul||25||Marco Rubio||23||Donald Trump (2016)|
|2014||Rand Paul||31||Ted Cruz||11|
|2015||Rand Paul||26||Scott Walker||21|
|2016||Ted Cruz||40||Marco Rubio||30|
|2017–18||Not held (Donald Trump's nomination presumptive)|
|2019||Donald Trump||82||Mitt Romney||6|
Overall, Mitt Romney holds the record of winning more CPAC straw polls than any other individual, with four. Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp and Rand Paul follow with three consecutive wins each, followed by Ron Paul with two wins. Of these five, the Pauls are the only two to win more than one straw poll, yet never appear on a Republican presidential ticket in any election (although Ron Paul did receive one Electoral College vote in 2016). Despite his former popularity, Romney was uninvited from CPAC in 2020 for his vote to remove the president impeachment trial of Donald Trump.
Since 2007, the Jeane Kirkpatrick Academic Freedom Award has been presented at CPAC in memory of Jeane Kirkpatrick. The award is sponsored by the Bradley Foundation, and its first recipient was Matt Sanchez. In 2010, the Ronald Reagan Award was given to the Tea Party movement, which marked the first time it was ever given to a group instead of an individual.
Australia's first CPAC was held in August 2019, with guest speakers including former prime minister Tony Abbott, Brexit campaign leader Nigel Farage, former Breitbart editor-in-chief Raheem Kassam and NSW One Nation leader Mark Latham. Liberal Senator Amanda Stoker and Craig Kelly MP were at the event. There have been calls for Kassam to be banned from coming into the country before the event.
The US backers of the right-wing Australian conference say the CPAC event won't be a one-off.
The first CPAC in Brazil took place between 11–12 October 2019, in the city of São Paulo, attended by leading conservative names from U.S. like ACU chairman Matt Schlapp and his wife Mercedes Schlapp, Utah senator Mike Lee, Fox News especialist Walid Phares, and Brazilian names like Federal deputy and the President Jair Bolsonaro's son Eduardo Bolsonaro, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ernesto Araújo, and the Prince Imperial of Brazil Bertrand Maria José de Orléans e Bragança and others.
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- "A Top Conservative Said the Alt-Right Are Actually 'Left-Wing Fascists'". Time. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
- Weigel, David; Wagner, John (February 23, 2017). "Alt-right leader expelled from CPAC after organizer denounces 'fascist group'". Retrieved January 7, 2018 – via www.WashingtonPost.com.
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- Ohlheiser, Abby; Ohlheiser, Abby (February 21, 2017). "The 96 hours that brought down Milo Yiannopoulos" – via The Washington Post.
- Hartmann, Margaret. "CPAC Blasted for Milo Yiannopoulos Invite After Pedophilia Remarks Resurface". New York Magazine. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
- "Senator Cruz Self Quarantines After Contact With Coronavirus Carrier". www.nytimes.com.
- Al-Arshani, Sarah. "Incoming White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is self-quarantining until Wednesday after attending CPAC". Business Insider. Retrieved April 2, 2020.
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- Gonyea, Don. "What Is CPAC? A Room That Didn't Always Love Trump, But Owes Him A Lot". npr.org. National Public Radio (NPR). Retrieved March 14, 2020.
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- http://www.washingtontimes.com, The Washington Times. "Romney wins The Washington Times/CPAC Straw Poll in 2012". The Washington Times. Retrieved February 2, 2020.
- "Bracing for the worst". The Washington Times. February 23, 2005. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
- Danielle Kurtzleben (February 11, 2011). "CPAC Straw Poll Not Predictive of Eventual Nominee". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved March 17, 2013.
- Sam Stein (March 31, 2009). "Romney Wins CPAC Poll, Palin Tied For Third". Huffington Post. Retrieved March 17, 2013.
- Shepard, Brenda; Murray, Mark (February 21, 2010). "Ron Paul wins CPAC straw poll". NBC News. Retrieved March 17, 2013.
- Falcone, Michael (February 12, 2011). "Ron Paul Wins 2011 CPAC Straw Poll, Sarah Palin Finishes a Distant 9th Place". ABC News. Retrieved March 17, 2013.
- Lederman, Josh (February 12, 2012). "Santorum suggests Romney rigged CPAC straw poll victory". The Hill. Retrieved March 17, 2013.
- Sherfinski, David; Dinan, Stephen (March 16, 2013). "Rand Paul wins The Washington Times-CPAC 2013 Straw Poll". Washington Times. Retrieved March 17, 2013.
- Hohmann, James (March 8, 2014). "A Rand Paul rout in CPAC straw poll". Politico. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
- Gonyea, Don. "What Is CPAC? A Room That Didn't Always Love Trump, But Owes Him A Lot". listen.sdpb.org. Retrieved February 2, 2020.
- Sherfinski, David; Dinan, Stephen (March 2, 2019). "CPAC straw poll: Biden biggest threat to Trump".
- CPAC 2019 Straw Poll, retrieved February 2, 2020
- Patrick Svitek (January 9, 2017). "Rogue Texas elector explains decision to back Ron Paul". The Texas Tribune.
- Choi, Matthew (January 31, 2020). "Romney not welcome at CPAC after impeachment witness vote". Politico. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
- Glauber, Bill (February 24, 2017). "Suspended professor John McAdams to receive award at CPAC". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
- Blumenthal, Max (September 1, 2009). Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party. PublicAffairs. p. 191. ISBN 9780786750443.
- "The Unbearable Whiteness of CPAC". Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights. March 21, 2014.
- "Labor wants right-wing 'bigot' banned from Australia ahead of conservative conference". SBS News. Retrieved September 10, 2019.
- Doran, political reporter Matthew (July 31, 2019). "Right-wing provocateur who wanted female politician's legs 'taped shut' on his way to Australia". ABC News. Retrieved September 10, 2019.
- "US backers of rightwing Australian conference say CPAC event won't be one-off | Australia news | The Guardian". Retrieved September 10, 2019.
- "Official website". CPAC Brazil (in Portuguese).
- "ACU Foundation Events". ACU Foundation. Retrieved August 14, 2019.
- Jair Bolsonaro [@jairbolsonaro] (August 14, 2019). "-É com grande satisfação que após meses de trabalho anunciamos que o maior evento conservador do mundo, CPAC, será realizado pela 1ª vez no Brasil. Em breve divulgaremos grandes nomes da direita mundial que se farão presentes em São Paulo nos dias 11 e 12/OUT. Sigam: @cpacbrasil" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "Eduardo Bolsonaro tenta trazer ao Brasil maior evento conservador do mundo" (in Portuguese). Poder 360. May 18, 2019.
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