I’ll be taking Leaven slightly-outside the Beltway later this week, as I head to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland from Thursday through Saturday, March 14-15-16. There will be hundreds of reporters and bloggers there to follow every word from the rock stars at the main podium. I’m less interested in the rock stars, fascinating though they may be, than I am in the pro-lifers at the event. I am also interested in how politicians who spent all last year calling social issues a “distraction” talk about the pro-life movement now.
Why am I heading down there when I’m not getting paid? Because I honestly believe pro-lifers need to keep an ear to the ground and do their own reporting when politicians have a gathering like this. With all due respect to legacy media and conservative bloggers, news and commentary of interest to pro-life voters often gets lost in the shuffle. What I’ll be watching and listening for:
- Who mentions social issues in a speech, and who doesn’t? Who writes off or scolds pro-lifers, or uses that dreaded d-word (“Distraction”)?
- Do any of these potential candidates and policy wonks understand the religious liberty threat posed by Obamacare? Will any of them attack the HHS mandate, which by the way would be a winning issue for any candidate with the gumption to use it?
- What’s the buzz about New Hampshire’s First-In-The-Nation primary? Many of these speakers will be making the rounds of our Old Home Days in a couple of years, if not earlier. Do they appreciate our state’s role in the process? [Post-CPAC note: this wasn’t addressed at the sessions I attended.]
- There are three tiers of speakers and presentations at CPAC going on simultaneously, and some of the most interesting events are the less-heralded ones. That’s where the life-issue presentations are hidden, for the most part. I want to shine a light on them.
- What’s in the exhibit hall, away from the cameras and mics?
And so forth. While I’ll be working from a schedule, I expect to improvise. Major media will cover the A-list speakers, so if I miss Donald Trump in favor of a panel on Obamacare, I won’t worry.
Pro-life, conservative, and Republican are not the same thing, although there is significant overlap. I have a stake in each camp, as a pro-life independent (and recovering Republican) who is conservative in many but not all respects. That’s the perspective I’m bringing to the party this weekend. CPAC is sponsored by the American Conservative Union, its main speakers are high-profile Republicans, and once-and-future candidates for high office will strut their stuff in front of thousands of activists, pitching for votes. I expect to be in blogger heaven.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte is one of the featured speakers Friday morning. [An earlier version of this post mentioned state Rep. Marilinda Garcia as one of the emcees; an updated schedule does not show her name.]
My apologies in advance to my email subscribers; I don’t mean to spam you. I will liveblog each day, and I hope not every update will trigger a message to your inbox. In addition, I’ll have special-feature posts as coverage demands.