CPAC 2013 was an event that dissected the loss in November. Where to go from here was a major theme. Many speakers questioned the Republican effort and particularly Mitt Romney, though they welcomed Mitt respectfully.
A Tea Party break-out session that I attended discussed the media's attempt to say that the movement is dead. The overwhelming response was that Presidential politics had sucked the air out of the room. The various groups stated that their alive and well and will be actively seeking candidates to run in 2014.
CPAC was encouraging in the numbers of young men and women attending. Many were wearing or carrying signs touting their favorites. Rand Paul won the straw poll. Was Rand Paul chosen because of his recent filibuster on the Senate floor? I came home with a Rubio/Scott tee shirt. Rubio was name second in the straw poll.
Ben Carson ( of Prayer Breakfast fame) gave an inspiring speech and discussed how under appreciated academic success is in this country. Texas Senator Cruz was truly a hit with the attendees as he spoke with a TelePrompTer. He introduced Sarah Palin who electrified the audience with her populist speech. She jabbed Obama by comparing him to the ponzi-schemer Bernie Madoff. Palin also took on Karl Rove and the professional class of repubs.
The conservative themes of limited government,liberty and free markets were everywhere in evidence. 2nd Amendment rights, also, were supported by speakers like Wayne LaPierre.The efforts to get out the conservative message to drive a successful 2014 campaign were the target of CPAC 2013.