The Conservative Political Action Conference (“CPAC”) is the oldest and largest annual gathering of conservatives in the country. Led by the American Conservative Union, CPAC starts Thursday morning and I’ll be there blogging about it over at RedState and MSNBC.
Why does it matter? Let’s face it. To get through the Republican primary, a candidate has to have good standing with conservatives. CPAC is a good place to get in good with conservatives and 2005 is not too soon to be laying ground work. CPAC expects to have Senators George Allen (R-VA), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Norm Coleman (R-MN), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and John Sununu (R-NH) speak in addition to Vice President Cheney (yeah, we know, he says he is not running), Newt Gingrich (who might be running), Karl Rove (who will probably be running someone else), Zell Miller, and others.
As interesting as who is speaking is who is not speaking. Bill Frist, under fire for having left Washington to go to Asia while the electoral College votes were being counted, will not be speaking. Neither will Rudy Guliani, Jeb Bush, John McCain, Condi Rice, and others you would expect would want to speak if they were intent on running for President. I should add, however, that I do not know if any of the above were invited. Guliani and McCain might not fit in anyway, but the absence of Bill Frist from the list does raise eyebrows.
For three days this week, conservatives will subject themselves to the cold of Washington to be with their own, gloat over November’s electoral victories, and discuss what is next. To see the agenda for the event, you can check out CPAC’s website, here.