Brief history of CPAC that continues to maintain influence over US Conservatives
Former US President Donald Trump will address the Conservative Political Action Conference, better known as CPAC, on Sunday. This will be Trump’s first major post presidential appearance in which he is expected to criticize his successor, President Joe Biden. Other than Trump who has been a frequent CPAC speaker, Republican icons including nine sitting senators; two governors; 36 members of the US House— including House minority leader Kevin McCarthy — and various high-profile conservative media personalities and activists attended the CPAC this year. Trump has been keeping a relatively low profile since he retired from the White House to Palm Beach, Florida, in January. He only appeared last week to conduct a series of phone-in interviews to commemorate the death of conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh.
Founded in 1974, CPAC which is an annual event that brings conservative politicians, public intellectuals, pundits, and issue activists together in Washington, DC to discuss strategies for achieving their goals through the electoral and policy process is being held this year in Orlando, Florida. The conference consists of topical breakout sessions and major speeches from conservative leaders and sponsored parties. CPAC also conducts an annual “straw poll,” which surveys attendees on a range of issues, including who they’d prefer as the Republican nominee for president,
In the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, the then California governor Ronald Reagan gave the keynote address at CPAC. This helped in electing Reagan as the president. Since then, the event has become a meeting ground for various strains of the conservative movement.
In addition to Reagan, the platform also helped George W. Bush in gaining wider popularity amongst conservative circles.
The tea party movement of the Republican party also made itself known at the CPAC in 2010 after which the populist wave took over the party and eventually resulted in Trump being elected to the White House.
Trump was a CPAC speaker even before announcing his presidential run in the summer of 2015. He attended the conference in 2013, 2014 and 2015. In 2016, CPAC was divided between traditional conservatives and Trump supporters and the straw poll conducted chose Ted Cruz as the preferred nominee for the post of the President.
Trump won the 2016 nomination and the presidential election, surprising CPAC. But the fondness between the conference and Trump continues, and is not expected to end anytime soon!