NATIONAL HARBOUR, Md., February 26, 2017 — After two raucous days, the third and final day of CPAC was quiet. This was the 50th anniversary of CPAC, but it ended on a note of serious policy discussion, not political cheerleading.
Vice President Mike Pence had the attendees on full tilt Thursday night, and President Donald Trump ramped up the adrenaline even further on Friday. Saturday was the crash after a sugar high.
That was to be expected. In 2016, CPAC ended with a presidential straw poll that had attendees choosing between 17 declared candidates and others who opted out. Past years have seen fiery closing addresses by everyone from Glenn Beck to Rush Limbaugh. This year, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke brought the event to a close. Clarke is mulling a Senate run. While he is well liked and respected by the attendees, the intensity of Saturday was less than folks at CPAC normally expect.
Radio Row was a ghost town, and many in the mainstream media ditched the conference once Trump left.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was part of a panel, but many attendees opted to socialize at the bar instead.
Los Angeles political activist Andrea Rivera explained her activism techniques to a gathering of about 300 people. When Trump spoke, between 10,000 and 15,000 people crammed into the Gaylord National Resort’s main ballroom.
One group that stayed true to its mission was the Young Jewish Conservatives. Their Shabbos lunch featured a brilliant presentation by Rabbi Daniel Lapin of the American Alliance for Jews and Christians. He gave a lecture that managed to distinguish equity financing from debt financing and how that relates to the (Old Testament) Torah. Stopping by to show support to the group was North Carolina Congressman Mark Walker.
One special guest of the YJCs was Niger Innis, the head of the Congress for Racial Equality. The son of the late Roy Innis is one of the most respected black conservatives in the United States. He showed up out of solidarity, and urged Jewish conservatives to reach out to Hispanic conservatives, black conservatives, and any other minority conservative groups who feel marginalized in their own communities.
Once CPAC was over, the last task was to find a party to celebrate conservatism well into the night. In past years, the “Unsustainable Bar Tab Party” was a place to combine conservatism with pizza, adult beverages, and a jacuzzi. This year there would be no such shindig. However, the Annual “Reaganpalooza” party did take place. Dog the Bounty Hunter was the special guest, although most of the attendees were more focused on the video game room and the beer pong table.
Despite the relative calm on CPAC’s final day, the political waters were still being roiled. Democrats announced Tom Perez as the new head of the Democratic National Committee. Sanders Democrats favored Rep. Keith Ellison, but his toxic history of anti-Semitic comments was too much for even some Democrats to stomach.
Perez, President Obama’s former secretary of labor, was the choice of establishment Democrats, backed by both Obama and Hillary Clinton. Whether their rejection of Ellison was for principled or pragmatic reasons is for them to deny.
In one piece of thrilling news, President Trump decided to boycott the upcoming White House Correspondents Dinner. With the Academy Awards expected to deliver plenty of obnoxious, anti-conservative bigotry, the WHCD would be redundant.
For the many members of normal America who were looking for a post-CPAC gathering, about 100,000 mostly conservative Americans were expected to attend the Daytona 500.