Conservatives on Offense  >
37th Annual Conservative Political Action Conference,  February 18-20, 2010
February 18-20, 2010--The 37th Conservative Political Action Conference, the largest ever, drawing some 10,000 people according to organizers, was held this year at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. (The first CPAC, held in 1973, drew 125 people). Buoyed by wins in the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races and by Scott Brown's win in the Massachusetts U.S. Senate race, conservatives are on the offense.

Attendees heard from dozens of speakers, learned about the activities of various conservative groups in the exhibit space, and networked in the halls. Highlights included the keynote speech by Florida U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio, a surprise appearance by former Vice President Dick Cheney, and the closing speech by Glenn Beck. Half a dozen presidential prospects attended the conference: former Speaker Newt Gingrich, Rep. Mike Pence, Rep. Ron Paul, former Gov. Mitt Romney and former Sen. Rick Santorum all addressed the conference, while former Gov. Gary Johnson spoke at sponsored event. Additionally, a number of candidates for state offices in the upcoming mid-term elections made low key efforts to spread the word about their candidacies during the conference, for example by handing out flyers or brochures. Top issues for attendees of the conference, according to a straw poll, are reducing the size of the federal government and reducing government spending.

A considerable libertarian presence, orchestrated by the Campaign for Liberty, marked this year's CPAC. Indeed there was some minor griping in the halls that this was a conservative, not a libertarian conference. The tea party movement, which is not quite one year old, also had a presence, for example in a panel titled "Saving Freedom One Patriot at a Time." [interview]
Towards the end of the conference, results of the straw poll were released. Of 2,395 registrants responding (a record, compare to 1,757 last year), almost half were students (48%). Ninety-eight percent disapproved of the job that Barack Obama is doing as president, while 62% approved of the job Republicans are doing in Congress. Looking towards the 2012 presidential campaign, respondents were asked "who would you vote for as the next Republican nominee for President?" Rep. Ron Paul was the surprise winner, and former Gov. Mitt Romney finished second. Former Gov. Sarah Palin, who has garnered far more attention than any other presidential propect, but did not appear citing scheduling conflicts, finished a distant third. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee likewise did not appear this year. The results:
TX Congressman Ron Paul
Former MA Governor Mitt Romney
Former AK Governor Sarah Palin
MN Governor Tim Pawlenty
IN Congressman Mike Pence
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich
Former AR Governor Mike Huckabee
IN Governor Mitch Daniels
Former PA Senator Rick Santorum
SD Senator John Thune
MS Governor Haley Barbour
However, 53% of respondents said they "wish the GOP had a better field of potential candidates."  Interestingly there was a significant gender imbalance among respondents. Sixty-four percent were male and 30% female; 6% gave no response.

More Photos
February 18
Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) [introduced by
Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA)]
Presidential Banquet
   Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) Freedom First reception
   Rep. Ron Paul Campaign for Liberty event

February 19
Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) +
Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) +
Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX)
  Former Gov Gary Johnson at Campaign for Liberty event
February 20

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich
Exhibit Hall

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