CPAC and the GOP’s war with itself

Why this year's conservative convention could expose some serious fissures under the party's surface

Topics: CPAC, Republican Party,

CPAC and the GOP's war with itselfFILE - In this Feb. 2, 2011 file photo, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is interviewed in New York. The tea party movement is mixing a strange political brew in famously independent New Hampshire, complicating the first-in-the-nation primary strategy for the growing number of potential Republican presidential hopefuls. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)(Credit: AP)

More than 10,000 right-leaning activists are primed to descend on Washington for the Conservative Political Action Conference, a three-day event that begins Thursday morning. The annual affair offers a high-profile glimpse into the workings of America’s conservative movement. Its speakers offer paeans to small government, fiscal responsibility and Judeo-Christian values.

In years past, presidential hopefuls have been overshadowed by exotic headliners like Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney  and 13-year-old Jonathan Krohn. This year’s CPAC is a different story, however, as it represents the true opening salvo of the 2012 Republican election push. Presumptive candidates such as Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and Mitch Daniels will all address the conservatives in attendance, hoping to distinguish themselves through their calls for an Obama-less future. (Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee, on the other hand, will notably skip the conference.)

You Might Also Like

Per the New York Times

In the wake of sweeping Republican victories in last year’s Congressional elections, where Tea Party supporters rewarded candidates who pledged to uphold fiscally conservative principles and punished those who failed their conservative purity tests, the early stage of the 2012 campaign is unfolding as something of a political free-for-all.

The event could offer key early insight into each candidate’s prospects, since activists tend to hold outsize influence in the the GOP’s nominating process. This is particularly true in the lead-off Iowa caucuses, where Mike Huckabee walked away with the Republican win in 2008. CPAC will conclude on Saturday with a presidential straw poll, an annual custom at the conference. Ron Paul was victorious in last year’s straw poll after Mitt Romney won the prior three. 

There will be some controversy this year, thanks  to the presence of GOProud, a group that represents gay conservatives. (If you remember, last year one speaker drew a chorus of boos for his condemnation of the group’s presence.) Prominent conservative organizations like the Family Research Council and the Heritage Foundation are boycotting in protest, and South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan have also refused to attend. 

Conservative Politics Daily columnist Matt Lewis summed it up this way: 

To be sure, some irrelevant groups and individuals have used this as an excuse for cheap publicity. That should not undermine the fact that there are legitimate questions regarding the future of CPAC — and the conservative movement — that clearly must be addressed.

The future of the Republican Party hangs in the balance. Game on.

Peter Finocchiaro is the deputy editor of Salon. Follow him on Twitter @PLFino.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

    Anders Andersson/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

    Howard Singleton/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

    Abrar Mohsin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 8

    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

    Madeline Crowley/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

    Ian Bird/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 10

    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>