Over the next few days, conservatives from across the country are gathering in Maryland for the
Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) — a major annual right-wing summit hosted by the American Conservative Union (ACU). The conference will feature speeches from a host of high-profile White House staffers and conservative leaders, including President Donald Trump himself.
NPR has described CPAC as “equal parts political rally, conservative boot camp, recruiting tool, trade show and merchandise mart, [and] Beltway celebrity watch party.” The event, which has been held since 1974, is the largest annual gathering of conservative politicians and activists in the country and has been attended by over 10,000 people in recent years.
Trump has spoken at CPAC before — to both supportive and sceptical reception. In 2011, his speech drew attention and foreshadowed the rhetoric of his presidential campaign.
“If I decided to run, I will not be raising taxes, we’ll be taking back hundreds of billions of dollars from other countries that are screwing us, we’ll be creating vast numbers of productive jobs, and we’ll rebuild our country so that we can be proud,” Trump told the crowd.
This year, coming just a month after Republicans officially took control in Washington, CPAC is predicted to be something of a celebration.
The gathering will feature a range of conservative thought — from CPAC executive director Dan Schneider’s talk “The Alt Right Ain’t Right at All,” to conversations with leaders of the alt-right movement, including White House chief strategist and former Breitbart chairman Steve Bannon and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus.
On Monday, controversial far-right journalist Milo Yiannopoulos was disinvited from speaking at the conference after a video emerged in which Yiannopoulos appeared to condone sexual relations between adults and young boys.
ACU chair Matt Schlapp called the video, which he described as “condoning pedophilia,” “offensive.”
This is not the first time the conference has attracted internal and external criticism for its choices in guests. CPAC has a long history of hosting controversial speakers, including Youth for Western Civilisation, a right-wing group that defended the Confederacy and South African apartheid, and alt-right leaders and white nationalists, including David Brimelow and John Derbyshire.
In 2012, a gay Republicans group, GOProud, which had co-sponsored CPAC the previous year, was denied an invitation to the event after being boycotted by sponsors who objected to the group’s mission.
Here is a list of some of the most high-profile speakers over the next few days
9:10 a.m. — White House counselor Kellyanne Conway
11:10 a.m. — Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and radio host Mark Levin
12:50 p.m. — Interview with Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos
1:05 p.m. — Conversation with White House strategist Steve Bannon, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp.
7:30 p.m. — Vice President Mike Pence
8:25 a.m. — Dr. Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant to Trump
10:20 a.m. — President Donald Trump
11:55 a.m. — Nigel Farage, British politician and Fox News contributor
12:55 p.m. — NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre
1:50 p.m. — Scott Pruitt, EPA Administrator
You can find the full list here.
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