At the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), nearly every potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate will test potential campaign themes with conservative activists who will be scouting which candidates they will want to support.
The three-day conference, which takes place Thursday-Saturday at the Gaylord National Hotel in National Harbor, Maryland, promises to train activists with the tools they will need to help conservatives win elections at the state and national levels.
In a 2016 presidential race without a clear frontrunner as in years past, conservative activists like the ones who will attend CPAC will be even more important. And the potential GOP ’16 candidates surely know that. The event’s theme is “Conservative Action Starts Here,” and one can argue that CPAC unofficially kicks off the 2016 GOP primary cycle at the national level. Here is a guide to some of the highlights.
Potential presidential candidates scheduled to speak include: Dr. Ben Carson, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.
Nobody galvanizes the conservative base more than former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who has electrified previous CPAC audiences by assailing the bipartisan permanent political class and their brand of crony capitalism. She is scheduled to address CPAC at 5:40 PM on Thursday.
Conservative activists who are looking to make an impact may have a lot to learn from and be heartened by Nigel Farage. The leader of the upstart and grassroots United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) will address CPAC at 6:40 PM, with an introduction by Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow. UKIP, capitalizing on the discontent of voters across the pond have with two parties that they believe do not stand for much, has continued to make gains. Its success symbolizes how successful a political movement can be if it gains the trust of working-class conservatives and offers lessons to the Republican establishment about the importance of those voters heading into the 2016 campaign.
Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) will also speak while conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly will hold a book signing. There will be a panel on “Crushing the Crony Culture,” and CPAC organizers will organize an “Activism Boot Camp.” The three-day conference will take place as Congress debates whether to fund the Department of Homeland Security before Friday’s funding deadline and President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty. But CPAC will offer the conference’s lone event on the immigration debate on Thursday. The discussion, “Immigration: Can Conservatives Reach a Consensus?,” will feature two pro-amnesty panelists, Alfonso Aguilar of the American Principles Project and Mario Lopez of the Hispanic Leadership Fund, along with Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC).
Breitbart News readers will want to attend a screening of Occupy Unmasked, which features the late Andrew Breitbart and Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon directed, at 2:30 PM on Thursday in Chesapeake 4-6.
Potential presidential candidates who will speak include: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), former Texas Governor Rick Perry, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Donald Trump, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton. Indiana Governor Mike Pence, another potential 2016 candidate, will deliver the keynote address at the Reagan Dinner. Bush and Pence’s predecessor–former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels–have keynoted the Reagan dinner in previous years.
Bush, who is reluctant to throw red meat at conservatives, will not give a speech and participate in a question and answer session with Fox News host Sean Hannity. Speakers will have the option to take questions from the audience and from viewers on Twitter.
Another highlight on Friday will be the presentation of the Andrew Breitbart Defender of the First Amendment Award to Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson. Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon and Citizens United head Dave Bossie will make the presentation. Mark Levin won the inaugural award last year.
And at 4:40 PM in the Potomac Ballroom, Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow will moderate a panel on “A Strong America: Protecting Opportunity for All.” Panelists will include Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint, former Ronald Reagan Defense Department official K.T. McFarland, and American Enterprise Institute head Arthur Brooks.
Conservative icon, scholar and talk radio host Mark Levin will address the conference at 8:30 AM, ensuring that the CPAC crowd will wake up early after a night of parties and be in their seats for what will surely be a riveting address that will be directly aimed at the hearts of conservative activists at the conference and across the nation.
ForAmerica’s Brent Bozell, RNC Chair Reince Priebus, Fox News’s Sean Hannity, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are scheduled to speak. There will be panels on criminal justice reform, standing up to rogue nations, and “immigration and citizenship.” The results of the CPAC presidential straw poll will also be announced at the end of the day.
Breitbart News Saturday, which airs weekly on Sirius XM Patriot Channel 125, will commemorate its one-year anniversary by broadcasting live from radio row.
CPAC Events of Interest to Breitbart News Readers:
- Occupy Unmasked Screening: Thursday, 2:30 PM, Chesapeake 4-6
- UKIP’s Nigel Farage addresses CPAC main stage with introduction from Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow: Thursday, 6:40 PM
Andrew Breitbart Defender of the First Amendment Award Presented to Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson: Friday, 12:40 PM, Potomac Ballroom
Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow moderates “A Strong America” panel: Friday, 4:40 PM, Potomac Ballroom
Breitbart News Saturday on Radio Row: The weekly show, which Marlow and Bannon co-host on Sirius XM Patriot Channel 125, will commemorate its one-year anniversary by broadcasting live from radio row with guests galore. Feel free to stop and greet the Breitbart News crew.
Breitbart News will have comprehensive coverage of the event across its platforms.