CPAC Speakers Lineup: Who Needs Winners?


The folks at the American Conservative Union did not get the memo about the GOP’s painful election loss of 2012 — so the group forgot that you win elections through addition, not subtraction.

Thus, the conservative’s conservative organization did not invite New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie or Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to its annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which starts Thursday. McDonnell has riled the right by agreeing to a tax hike, and Christie was too chummy with the president during Hurricane Sandy. To CPAC, the fact that these two men managed to win statewide office is just piffle.

For its 2012 confab, CPAC un-invited GOProud, the conservative gay rights group that had been a co-sponsor of the 2011 and 2010 CPACs. Though GOProud is still on the outs, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a CPAC co-sponsor, will host a panel affiliated with CPAC, “A Rainbow on the Right: Growing the Coalition, Bringing Tolerance Out of the Closet.” Panelist Jimmy LaSalvia, GOProud’s executive director, will talk about how conservatives can broaden their base.

CEI’s Christine Hall said her think tank is hosting the event because it’s “not in the business of turning away allies.”

CPAC, however, did invite Donald Trump, the real estate developer who is famous for being rich and famous. In 2011, Trump infamously challenged President Barack Obama to release his birth certificate to prove that Obama was born in the United States. Being a birther put Trump’s face and comb-over all over cable news.

CPAC also invited Dick Morris and Newt Gingrich — two conservative bombasts with a talent for marrying unwavering self-promotion with certain self-destruction.

I called ACU Chairman Al Cardenas to ask him why CPAC didn’t invite Christie and McDonnell, who have won elections, but did invite Trump, who never even has run, to speak this year. Cardenas was too busy to chat, although a spokesperson sent me a long quote that lauded CPAC’s list of 250-plus speakers and lamented the group’s inability to invite more. It concluded: “This year we have invited leaders who are focused on furthering conservative ideals, and we even invited a select number of those with whom we disagree. We at the American Conservative Union have an almost fifty year history of fighting for our shared conservative values and we look forward to the next fifty.”

Good luck with that. Many Republicans look back at the 2012 primary and wince at the revolving montage of under-qualified presidential hopefuls. Mitt Romney was the best of the bunch, yet an incumbent presiding over an ailing economy was able to trounce him.

So what does the conservative Woodstock do? Send in the clowns. Snub the working stiffs who win elections to make room for the yahoos who sabotage them.

Many Republicans believe that Obama won because his team was able to turn out what Rush Limbaugh refers to as “low-information voters.”

How can Republicans beat that? By turning out our own low-information voters, that’s how. It could be that CPAC is trying to lead the way by showcasing low-information speakers. Too bad that tactic didn’t turn out so well in 2012.

Email Debra J. Saunders at: [email protected].

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