Conservative Political Action Conference takes place every February. Started in 1973, the political conference has become quite influential in Republican circles, namely for its polling that virtually determines which Republican is the most popular and which Republican has the best chance of advancing his or her career in politics.
Aspiring politicians, from Ronald Reagan to Mitt Romney, have attended CPAC in the past, further increasing their national exposure and presence and eventually winning the Republican nomination for president. With many potential Republican governors, representatives and senators vying for the nomination for 2016, CPAC 2015 will be an important occasion in the political arena.
CPAC also brings together influential conservative voices in the entertainment industry, particularly in the news business. Conservative radio hosts Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck have both held prominent speaking roles at the conference in recent years, with Limbaugh’s comments at the 2009 conference making headlines.
Most of what Limbaugh had to say was against the then newly elected President Barack Obama saying, “He (Obama) wants people in fear, angst and crisis, fearing the worst each and every day, because that clears the deck for President Obama and his pals to come in with the answers, which are abject failures, historically shown and demonstrated. Doesn’t matter. They’ll have control of it when it’s all over. And that’s what they want,” said Limbaugh to rousing approval from the Republican crowd.
This year, Fox News host Sean Hannity and conservative radio host Laura Ingraham are some members of the media who will be addressing the conference.
With the 2016 presidential campaign beginning earlier than ever, Republican contenders will need to use the high profile position of speaking at CPAC to create enthusiasm for their candidacy and legitimacy for the media to focus on their story, rather than another candidate's or just ignore altogether.
One candidate looking for that legitimacy this year is Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon who has never been elected to political office, but is popular with Republican voters.
Speaking at CPAC on Feb. 26, Carson said, “We need to reach out to people who think that maybe being dependent is reasonable as long as they feel safe. And it isn’t. The great societies of the 60s figured that if we just threw money at the problem we could fix it. Everything these programs tried to fix have gotten worse.”
Other high-profile figures attending CPAC include former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, perhaps the current frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is looking to bounce back from recent negative poll numbers; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, whose lack of a college degree has put him front and center on many news programs; Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who won the last two CPAC polls; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, whose well-known filibusters and policies against the Obama administration have resonated with many Tea Party voters; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, known for his moderate views on U.S. immigration policy; former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, notoriously known for forgetting his talking points in a 2012 Republican presidential debate; and Carly Fiorina, the lone female contender so far in the race and former Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in California. Like Carson, Fiorina is relatively new to the political landscape, as she built her career and wealth as the CEO of Hewlett-Packard.