CPAC 2024: Highlights and Recap

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I have returned from Washington, D.C. where I covered The 2024 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC 2024). Exhausted, but thankful, always, to have an opportunity to be on the pulse of politics and culture.

This was my first trip to D.C. in two years, and strangely, the last trip I took in 2022 was to… D.C. At that time, I covered a rally on the Supreme Court steps organized by the California Business Industrial Alliance (CABIA)—great fun and informative. If you are a paid subscriber, you can find those articles in the archives, and on RedState.

It must say, it was great to return to the Swamp! As usual I was jet lagged and confused. I thought I was going to miss a podcast hit with my friend Jim Peters for his After Dark program out of Minneapolis, but realized when I got to my hotel that I had gained an hour! (Derp). This is one of the reasons why I never fly in on the day of an event if I can help it. Jim Peters After Dark is an extension from my time with my CONK! News pals Jim Peters and Jeff “Hank Reardon” Meyer. It’s always a rousing conversation, and was a good way to ground me back to reality! Paid subscribers, you’ll be receiving some excerpts from my time with Jim and Jeff this week.

Officially we were in Maryland at the Gaylord Resort and Hotel, and I received my badge, landed at the media area, and got to work! Take a look at this short overview video:

Arrived and checked in. This is the mothership for the next few days.

The plan was to do daily missives and post them here, but between time with my RedState colleagues—including a ceremony where two of my colleagues laid a wreath at The Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington Cemetery—and some pivotal coverage on CPAC and on the site, plans changed, but you still get the benefit.

Fellow RedState writer Ward Clark flew in from Alaska to cover the fun.

Wreath in place. We observed the changing of the guard.

Graves at Arlington Cemetery, a very somber, sacred and awe-inspiring place.

CPAC was thin in comparison to other years, and the energy was less than bustling. American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schapp and his wife Senior Fellow Mercedes Schlapp are struggling for relevance. Between Charlie Kirk’s TPUSA, the Black Conservative Federation, and other truly grassroots and locally-based conservative conferences, they are no longer the only game in politics—and that’s a good thing. They are seeking to pivot by rebranding as CPAC International, and the conference featured representatives from CPAC conferences in Hungary, Israel, Japan, Australia, and Brazil. They also did a Wednesday launch with a CPAC International Summit, with dignitaries, politicians, activists, and party leaders from across the globe.

Less than stellar attendance on Day 1 of CPAC

FL Rep. Byron Donalds opened the conference. Ed Henry of Newsmax interviews him.

I published an overview of the conference here: CPAC 2024: Byron Donalds and Lara Trump Kick Off This Year’s Event: ‘Where Globalism Goes to Die’

By Day 3 Saturday, things had picked up significantly, in no small part thanks to former President and GOP frontrunner Donald J. Trump. All attendees and media were required to be on the conference floor by 10:00 a.m. Thanks to the bizarre rules of LEOs (not the Secret Service) in D.C., I had to toss a very nice metal water bottle; but, such is the nature of things.

Despite what the legacy media says, ladies were out in full force for Trump.

Here’s my missive from the start of Day 3, including some of the cast of characters that make up the CPAC attendees, including someone who brought their emotional support cat.

Singer Natasha Owens sang the National Anthem to open Day 1 and dressed to impress.

The Red, White, and Blue abounds, especially at CPAC.

The packed final day started with a presentation by #WalkAway founder Brandon Straka. His story is a reflection of just how terrible the state of things in our culture and government has become, but how brave and resilient people who will not back down can turn things around.

Straka’s CPAC presentation can be found here: CPAC 2024: Brandon Straka of #WalkAway Affirms What Did Not Kill Him Only Made Him More Dangerous

The main room began to fill up rapidly as Trump’s speech drew closer. Cynical readers on RedState were trying to conflate the numbers of the conference overall with the numbers of people who came to hear Trump speak. Before the former president even arrived, it was a standing-room only crowd. Those standing were positioned behind the media area so as not to block our view. The media area was also packed to the brim. Love him, or hate him, Trump still drives the news and always draws a crowd. Before Trump came on the stage, I was able to interact with a few more RedState colleagues, like Neil W. McCabe, and a few foreign correspondents, which was kind of cool.

CPAC Main Hall before Trump’s speech. It got even more crowded

My RedState colleague Neil W. McCabe dropped by the media area to say hello.

I acted as RedState’s designated Trump whisperer for his speech. Here’s the highlights: CPAC 2024: Trump Speaks to a Standing Room Only Crowd, Mocks Biden, Fake News Media

The conference ended with a few more presentations and speeches, then it was off for some final hangout time with #TeamRedState. We are strewn across the United States (and a few of us are international), so these conferences give us an opportunity to meet in real life, as opposed to virtually. It really does make a difference! Afterwards, I went back at my hotel, took off the war paint, and got into some baggy clothes. Yeah, I’m a girl who likes to be comfy. I had an early and long ride back home on Sunday, so I did one more hit for the CPAC coverage, updated my social media (part of the work), and then went to bed for a 6 a.m. rising.

Florida Rep. Byron Donalds opened CPAC on Thursday, and he is a standard bearer for conservatism and the GOP. My take on why I believe he’s at the top of the list for Trump’s VP. CPAC 2024: Will Byron Donalds Be Trump’s VP Pick?

My dear RedState colleague and Deputy Managing Editor Susie Moore actually drove from her Midwest home to D.C., so she let me hitch a ride back as far as Indiana, then my sweet hubby picked me up and we headed back to Alabama. Times are tough, and airfare is expensive, so I was grateful that both were willing to do this.

I had a blast, worked really hard, and made new connections and new friends. In my book, that’s a successful junket. There are things in the works for me to return to D.C. soon, so stay tuned for that and more of what’s In My Orbit!



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