Politics

CPAC: A Visitors Guide

This year's Trumpfest will be different from years past.

Image Credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

I am reliably informed that more than several readers of this space are first time visitors to CPAC, being held this year in Orlando and kicking off Thursday. I’ve attended the conference more than once since the 90s, up to and including last year when it was held at National Harbor, not too far away from my Annapolis perch.

But I decided not to attend this year’s festivities because I’m no longer in the prevailing groove and this year will be a cult of personality jamboree. Previous conferences focused on networking, drinking, and whatnot. Personally, that’s my cup of tea. This year I doubt the fun zone will be as prominent. Thus, I’ll pass.

But for those of you still under the sway of the former president, or who just want to have fun and listen to fellow conservatives yammer, we bring you a handy dandy visitors guide based on several attendances over decades. But first, the scenario.

FNC: “The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) kicks off Thursday, featuring a slew of Republicans who are eyed as potential 2024 presidential contenders and who will seek to make their appeals to the base — but none will command as much attention as former President Donald Trump. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, along with Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Ted Cruz, R-Texas and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., will all be in attendance in Orlando, Fla. Their speeches will be closely watched for any early signs they might run in 2024. But any potential 2024 run for those possible contenders may have to compete with Trump, who has flirted with the possibility of running again to retake the White House in 2024 after losing in November to now-President Biden.” Okay, what do you do there?

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1) Ignore the swarms of kids- They are too earnest and can’t drink, two of the worst qualities in any human being, much less any political type.

2) Avoid the speakers- Yes, I know that’s one of the main reasons you came. But they’ll only be feeding you pablum and the glazed eyed reactions of some of the audience should put you off speakers after your first speech by whoever. Yeah, the former president will be there Sunday. Watch it from a bar and spare yourself showers of attendee saliva.

3) Find a bar- Should have put this first, as the normal and sane people will be found there. Most others at the conference? Treat them like the plague.

4) Don’t go all fanboy on elected officials- They will smile and sign your whatever. But, told to me by former clients and sources, they actually loathe you for taking away time devoted to getting press back in their home hovels.

5) Media row- Find the line of live media feeds and watch the spin flow. The sheer horse manure put out here is highly amusing.

6) Spend some time at the conference exhibits- Easily the most interesting part of CPAC, there you’ll find tables and booths from various types of conservative groups, some cool, others fascinating, several outright loony. From conservative matchmakers to think tanks, you’ll find them there and occasionally pick up some good swag. There it is. Have fun and try not to take it too seriously. After all, it’s mostly merely a gabfest. Yawn.

David Kamioner
meet the author

David Kamioner is a veteran of U.S. Army Intelligence and an honors graduate of the University of Maryland's European Division. He also served with the Pershing Nuclear Brigade and the First Infantry Division. Subsequent to that he worked for two decades as a political consultant, was part of the American Red Cross Hurricane Katrina disaster relief effort in Louisiana, ran a homeless shelter for veterans in Philadelphia, and taught as a college instructor. He serves as a Contributing Editor for LifeZette.

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