The Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, D.C. was home to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Feb. 9, 10 and 11. CPAC is occupied by mainly Republican voters and gives members of the Republican party a chance to speak to a group of their peers. CPAC has become so big in the Republican Party’s eyes that the panel of speakers has stretched out rather far.
Three of the four Republican presidential nominees spoke at CPAC. Other honored guests included Sarah Palin, Kirk Cameron, Marco Rubio, Ann Coulter and former Republican nominee Herman Cain. Various other senators and governors who have played a large role in the Republican Party over the past few years were also invited to the event. Many discussed their disappointment and frustrations regarding the actions of the Obama administration.
Ryan Carson, a first-year communications major, was present at CPAC. When asked what the conference environment was like, he said that it was charged and energetic.
“People were upset with the current state of the economy and the current president. It was basically a pep rally for the primaries,” Carson said. He went on to say that it was much different from when he watches candidates on TV because the candidates fed off of the energy of the crowd, and it was cool to be a part of that energy.
Carson said that it was such a memorable experience that he would definitely love to go back next year. He had a great time and got to see some very important people, including senators, congressmen and presidential candidates.
Due to the high volume of people and the extremely long lines at the conference this year, CPAC 2013 will be held at the Gaylord National Hotel & Convention Center, the largest combined hotel and conference center on the entire East Coast. The hotel is also conveniently located on the shore of the Potomac River in Maryland.
A big part of CPAC includes having the attendees participate in a straw poll. When the votes were tallied, Mitt Romney was declared the winner. While the victory does not really mean anything on paper, it is a major symbolic and moral victory for Romney. Romney came in first place with 38 percent of the votes, while former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania came in second with 31 percent. Newt Gingrich had 15 percent of the vote. Ron Paul came in fourth, receiving 12 percent of the votes, after winning the 2010 and 2011 straw polls in a convincing fashion.
A reason for Paul’s lack of votes this year, according to Huffington Post writer Elise Foley, is that neither Paul, nor any of his campaign members, showed up to CPAC and therefore did not get to excite the crowd like the other candidates did before the straw polls opened.
The straw poll was not the only thing that made a splash at CPAC this year. Occupy protesters attempted to crash the event, and one occupier even told a reporter at the Daily Caller that they were being paid “sixty bucks a head” to protest outside of the conference in Washington, D.C. Most of the protesters also did not know why they were protesting or even what they were protesting in the first place.
According to the staff at College Fix, “One protester told [The Daily Caller] that all the ‘Occupy’ activists were being paid to protest, and that his union, Sheet Metal Workers Local 100, approached him about the money-making opportunity.” The protestor went on to say that he does not like Local 100, but did not want to pass up an easy sixty dollars.
CPAC is seen as a chance for all of the Republican candidates to be able to speak to their peers without the pressure of having people in the audience oppose their ideals. The candidates use this chance to gain support in hopes of becoming the next Republican presidential candidate and possibly the next President of the United States of America. Based on the events at CPAC, it looks like America is in for a fun and event-filled 2012 presidential campaign from both parties.