Conservative Political Action Conference
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Conservative Political Action Conference

Conservative Political Action Conference
CPAC 2019.png
CPAC 2019 logo
DatesFebruary/March (dates vary)
Location(s)National Harbor, Maryland, U.S.
Inaugurated1973; 46 years ago (1973)
Most recentFebruary 27-March 2, 2019
Organized byAmerican Conservative Union

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC; SEE-pak) is an annual political conference attended by conservative activists and elected officials from across the United States. CPAC is hosted by the American Conservative Union (ACU).[1]

In 2011, ACU took CPAC on the road with its first Regional CPAC in Orlando, Florida. Since then ACU has hosted regional CPACs in Chicago, Denver, St. Louis, and San Diego. Political front runners take the stage at this convention.[]

The 2019 CPAC took place at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center from February 27 to March 2, 2019.[2][better source needed]


Number of CPAC attendees over time
President Ronald Reagan speaking at the 1985 CPAC
President George W. Bush speaking at the 2008 CPAC
President Donald Trump speaking at the 2018 CPAC

The conference was founded in 1974 by the American Conservative Union and Young Americans for Freedom as a small gathering of dedicated conservatives.[3][4][5] Ronald Reagan gave the inaugural keynote speech at CPAC in 1974.[6] Like the conference's speakers today, the presidential hopeful used it to share his vision for the country--"A Shining City Upon A Hill," words borrowed from John Winthrop.[7]


In 2014, CPAC extended an invitation to the American Atheists, which was immediately withdrawn on the same day due to controversial statements.[8]

Richard Spencer, a figurehead of the Alt-Right and a white supremacist, entered the lobby of the Gaylord National Hotel on February 23, 2017 in an attempt to access CPAC. Organizers of the conference ejected him from the hotel as soon as his presence was discovered, citing his "repugnant [views which] ... have absolutely nothing to do with conservatism or what we do here" as cause for rejecting his admission to CPAC.[9] ACU's Executive Director Dan Schneider castigated Spencer and the alt-right in a main-stage speech, calling them "garden-variety, left-wing fascists," and saying that the alt-right "despises everything [conservatives] believe in."[10][11] Media members across the political spectrum, led by progressive journalists and opinion columnists, salvoed the intrusion as yet another attempt by hateful groups, like the alt-right, to conceal their bigotry within a legitimate philosophy. Opinion columns in The New York Times, and articles in Mother Jones and Rolling Stone voiced concern about the 2017 interview of ex-Trump Adviser Steve Bannon and ex-Trump Chief of Staff Reince Preibus with ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp, advocating for the American Right to reject the tenets of the alt-right (e.g. homophobia, xenophobia, sexism, racism, etc.).[12][13][14]

Fringe groups at CPAC

The 2010 CPAC featured co-sponsorship for the first time from the John Birch Society and GOProud, a gay conservative group. GoProud is credited in the media for initiating talks with ACU to invite Donald Trump to speak at CPAC 2011.[15] The 2011 CPAC speech Trump gave is credited for helping kick-start his political career within the Republican Party.[16][17][18]Christopher R. Barron, co-founder of GOProud who would later not only endorse Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, but also launch LGBT for Trump, said he "would love to see Mr. Trump run for president."

For the 2012 CPAC conference, the ACU board voted to not invite GOProud or the John Birch Society to the 2012 conference.[19]

The 2015 CPAC featured Jamila Bey who became the first atheist activist to address CPAC's annual meeting.[20] The 2016 CPAC featured co-sponsorship for the first time from the Log Cabin Republicans.[21]

Milo Yiannopoulos invitation

In December 2016, CPAC extended an invitation to conservative blogger Milo Yiannopoulos to speak at the event, despite his history of controversial views on feminism, racial minorities, and transgender issues. The invitation was canceled when the Reagan Battalion re-posted a video of 2016 and 2015 YouTube videos[22] in which Yiannopoulos is heard making comments defending sexual relationships between adult men and 13-year-old boys, citing his own sexual experiences at that age with a Catholic priest.[23]

Annual straw poll

Straw poll results at the 2015 CPAC

The annual CPAC straw poll vote traditionally serves as a barometer for the feelings of the conservative movement. During the conference, attendees are encouraged to fill out a survey that asks questions on a variety of issues. The questions regarding the most popular possible presidential candidates are the most widely reported. One component of CPAC is evaluating conservative candidates for president, and the straw poll serves generally to quantify conservative opinion.

Year Straw poll winner % of votes Second place % of votes
1976 Ronald Reagan[24][25] n/a George Wallace n/a
1980 Ronald Reagan n/a n/a n/a
1984 Ronald Reagan n/a n/a n/a
1986 Jack Kemp[26][27] n/a George H. W. Bush n/a
1987 Jack Kemp[28] 68 Pat Buchanan 9
1993 Jack Kemp[29] n/a n/a n/a
1995 Phil Gramm[30] 40 Bob Dole 12
1998 Steve Forbes[31] 23 George W. Bush 10
1999 Gary Bauer[32][33] 28 George W. Bush 24
2000 George W. Bush[34] 42 Alan Keyes 23
2005 Rudy Giuliani[35] 19 Condoleezza Rice 18
2006 George Allen[36] 22 John McCain 20
2007 Mitt Romney[36] 21 Rudy Giuliani 17
2008 Mitt Romney[36] 35 John McCain 34
2009 Mitt Romney[36][37] 20 Bobby Jindal 14
2010 Ron Paul[36][38] 31 Mitt Romney 22
2011 Ron Paul[39] 30 Mitt Romney 23
2012 Mitt Romney[40] 38 Rick Santorum 31
2013 Rand Paul[41] 25 Marco Rubio 23
2014 Rand Paul[42] 31 Ted Cruz 11
2015 Rand Paul 26 Scott Walker 21
2016 Ted Cruz 40 Marco Rubio 30

Overall, Mitt Romney holds the record of winning more CPAC straw polls than any other individual, with four. Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp and Rand Paul follow with three consecutive wins each, followed by Ron Paul with two wins. Of these five, the Pauls are the only two to win more than one straw poll, yet never appear on a Republican presidential ticket in any election (although Ron Paul did receive one Electoral College vote in 2016).[43]


Since 2007, the Jeane Kirkpatrick Academic Freedom Award has been presented at CPAC in memory of Jeane Kirkpatrick. The award is sponsored by the Bradley Foundation, and its first recipient was Matt Sanchez.[44][45] In 2010, the Ronald Reagan Award was given to the Tea Party movement, which marked the first time it was ever given to a group instead of an individual.[46]

Foreign CPACs


Australia's first CPAC is due to be held in August 2019, with guest speakers including former prime minister Tony Abbott, Brexit campaign leader Nigel Farage, former Breitbart editor-in-chief Raheem Kassam and NSW One Nation leader Mark Latham. Liberal Senator Amanda Stoker and Craig Kelly MP will also be at the event. There have been calls for Kassam to be banned from coming into the country before the event.[47][48]

The US backers of the right wing Australian conference say the CPAC event won't be a one-off.[49]


The first CPAC in Brazil took place between 11-12 October 2019, in the city of São Paulo, attended by leading conservative names from U.S. like ACU chairman Matt Schlapp and his wife Mercedes Schlapp, Utah senator Mike Lee, Fox News especialist Walid Phares, and Brazilian names like Federal deputy and the President Jair Bolsonaro's son Eduardo Bolsonaro, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ernesto Araújo, and the Prince Imperial of Brazil Bertrand Maria José de Orléans e Bragança and others.[50][51]

The ACU Foundation has announced that the event will take place annually in Brazil from 2019.[52][53]

See also


  1. ^ "CPAC 2015 Straw Poll: Rand Paul wins again - but Scott Walker is surging". The Washington Times. February 28, 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  2. ^ "CPAC 2020". CPAC 2020. Retrieved 2019.
  3. ^ Diamond, Sara (1995) [1995]. Roads to Dominion: Right-Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States (2 ed.). New York, NY: The Guilford Press. pp. 128, 138, 146, 198, 210, 212, 285, 289, 327. ISBN 0-89862-862-8.
  4. ^ Wilcox, Derk Arend (2000). The Right Guide: A Guide to Conservative, Free-Market, and Right-of-Center Organizations. United States of America: Economics America, Inc. p. 43. ISBN 978-0-914169-06-2.
  5. ^ "CPAC Over 30 Years: Conservatives Have Come a Long Way". Human Events. February 3, 2003.
  6. ^ "Why Ronald Reagan Is Such a Big Deal at CPAC". Time.
  7. ^ " - Your favorite newspapers and magazines".
  8. ^ "Atheists Invited, Then Uninvited, to CPAC". Political Outcast. February 26, 2014. Retrieved 2017.
  9. ^ "White Nationalist Richard Spencer Kicked Out Of CPAC".
  10. ^ "A Top Conservative Said the Alt-Right Are Actually 'Left-Wing Fascists'". Time. Retrieved 2018.
  11. ^ Weigel, David; Wagner, John (February 23, 2017). "Alt-right leader expelled from CPAC after organizer denounces 'fascist group'". Retrieved 2018 – via
  12. ^ "Conservatives can't figure out whether to embrace or denounce the alt-right". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2017.
  13. ^ "CPAC's Flirtation With the Alt-Right Is Turning Awkward". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2017.
  14. ^ Williamson, Elizabeth (February 24, 2017). "Big Tent or Circus Tent? A Conservative Identity Crisis in the Trump Era". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017.
  15. ^ CNN, Chris Moody and Alexander Rosen. "Gays for Trump? Activist plans new effort". CNN.
  16. ^ "GOProud Leads 'Trump In 2012' Movement At CPAC - Towleroad". February 10, 2011. Retrieved 2017.
  17. ^ "Gay GOProud Founder Chris Barron Launches Loathsome 'LGBT for Trump' Campaign: WATCH - Towleroad". June 15, 2016. Retrieved 2017.
  18. ^ Correspondent, Chris Moody, CNN Senior Digital. "How gay conservatives helped launch Donald Trump". CNN. Retrieved 2017.
  19. ^ "GOProud and Birchers ousted as CPAC co-sponsors (David Horowitz survives vote)". The Daily Caller. Retrieved 2014.[deprecated source]
  20. ^ "In a first, atheist activist addresses conservative conference". The Washington Post. December 14, 2012. Retrieved 2015.
  21. ^ "'Smooth sailing' for gay Republicans at CPAC". March 4, 2016. Retrieved 2017.
  22. ^ Ohlheiser, Abby; Ohlheiser, Abby (February 21, 2017). "The 96 hours that brought down Milo Yiannopoulos" – via The Washington Post.
  23. ^ Hartmann, Margaret. "CPAC Blasted for Milo Yiannopoulos Invite After Pedophilia Remarks Resurface". New York Magazine. Retrieved 2017.
  24. ^ "The Bulletin - Google News Archive Search".
  25. ^ "Conservatives abandon talk of a third party, throw their support behind Reagan". The Associated Press. February 16, 1976. Retrieved 2010.
  26. ^ "Gadsden Times - Google News Archive Search".
  27. ^ Gailey, Phil (February 1, 1986). "G.O.P. Strategists Clash Over a Presidential Poll". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331
  28. ^ "Schenectady Gazette - Google News Archive Search".
  29. ^ "Republican Right Wing Gathers To Bash Clinton, Look to 1996 Conservatives meet in record numbers to find that there is life - and echoes of past unity - after the presidency". The Christian Science Monitor. February 22, 1993. ISSN 0882-7729.
  30. ^ "Archive Search Results".
  31. ^ "Archive Search Results".
  32. ^ Neal, Terry M. (January 31, 1999). "Bauer Planning Steps for Presidential Bid". Washington DC: Washington Post Company. p. A2. Retrieved 2010.
  33. ^ "Conservative activist Bauer runs for president". Life Advocate. Retrieved 2015.
  34. ^ "Bush wins conservative poll; Forbes supporters impressed; Governor wins 42 percent, Keyes second at 23 percent". Washington Post Company. January 23, 2000. Retrieved 2010.
  35. ^ "Bracing for the worst". The Washington Times. February 23, 2005. Retrieved 2015.
  36. ^ a b c d e Danielle Kurtzleben (February 11, 2011). "CPAC Straw Poll Not Predictive of Eventual Nominee". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 2013.
  37. ^ Sam Stein (March 31, 2009). "Romney Wins CPAC Poll, Palin Tied For Third". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2013.
  38. ^ Brenda Shepard; Mark Murray (February 21, 2010). "Ron Paul wins CPAC straw poll". NBC News. Retrieved 2013.
  39. ^ Michael Falcone (February 12, 2011). "Ron Paul Wins 2011 CPAC Straw Poll, Sarah Palin Finishes a Distant 9th Place". ABC News. Retrieved 2013.
  40. ^ Josh Lederman (February 12, 2012). "Santorum suggests Romney rigged CPAC straw poll victory". The Hill. Retrieved 2013.
  41. ^ Stephen Dinan; David Sherfinski (March 16, 2013). "Rand Paul wins The Washington Times-CPAC 2013 Straw Poll". Washington Times. Retrieved 2013.
  42. ^ James Hohmann (March 8, 2014). "A Rand Paul rout in CPAC straw poll". Politico. Retrieved 2014.
  43. ^ Patrick Svitek (January 9, 2017). "Rogue Texas elector explains decision to back Ron Paul". The Texas Tribune.
  44. ^ Glauber, Bill (February 24, 2017). "Suspended professor John McAdams to receive award at CPAC". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 2017.
  45. ^ Blumenthal, Max (September 1, 2009). Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party. PublicAffairs. p. 191. ISBN 9780786750443.
  46. ^ "The Unbearable Whiteness of CPAC". Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights. March 21, 2014.
  47. ^ "Labor wants right-wing 'bigot' banned from Australia ahead of conservative conference". SBS News. Retrieved 2019.
  48. ^ Doran, political reporter Matthew (July 31, 2019). "Right-wing provocateur who wanted female politician's legs 'taped shut' on his way to Australia". ABC News. Retrieved 2019.
  49. ^ "US backers of rightwing Australian conference say CPAC event won't be one-off | Australia news | The Guardian". Retrieved 2019.
  50. ^ "Official website". CPAC Brazil (in Portuguese).
  51. ^ "ACU Foundation Events". ACU Foundation. Retrieved 2019.
  52. ^ Jair Bolsonaro [@jairbolsonaro] (August 14, 2019). "-É com grande satisfação que após meses de trabalho anunciamos que o maior evento conservador do mundo, CPAC, será realizado pela 1ª vez no Brasil. Em breve divulgaremos grandes nomes da direita mundial que se farão presentes em São Paulo nos dias 11 e 12/OUT. Sigam: @cpacbrasil" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  53. ^ "Eduardo Bolsonaro tenta trazer ao Brasil maior evento conservador do mundo" (in Portuguese). Poder 360. May 18, 2019.

External links

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