Unfortunately my group could not get to the event until about 3:45 PM, but I did get to browse around some of the happenings at CPAC in relation to the Independent and third party world.
The Conservative Party USA, not to be confused with the myriad of other political parties at the state and national level with the label ‘conservative, has a booth this year. I spoke with one of their organizers- when I asked if they were founding a fully functioning party with this effort, she informed me that they did not feel the Republican Party was an effective mechanism to advance conservatism and that they sought a new vehicle for such a process. They are emphasizing a Project Mayberry, which seeks to focus on local offices first. She also indicated a willingness to work with other third parties. The group will host a “Conservative Summit” tomorrow at 1:00 PM in the Jefferson Room.
Also manning a booth was the Libertarian Party. Wes Benedict, the LP Executive Director, was present. Emphasizing its conservative appeal, the booth featured a “Republican Wall of Shame” emphasizing perceived sins of prominent GOP politicos and asked passers-by to take the “World’s Smallest Political Quiz.”
Although they now work within the major parties, two prominent politicians commonly associated with the Libertarian had turned out numerous supporters: Representative Ron Paul and former Governor Gary Johnson. The former was a presidential candidate for the LP in 1988 and is a lifetime dues-paying member of the party; the latter was on the party rolls for a few years and was courted to run on the LP ballot line in 2000 and 2004. Both voted for Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin in the 2008 presidential election.
It was clear that those associated with these two candidates, primarily members of Campaign For Liberty, had a large number of activists at the conference. Do not be surprised to see Ron Paul win a solid victory straw poll on Saturday and Gary Johnson to poll a respectable showing as a 2nd choice candidate.
Sometimes there was even fireworks between two candidates who have been associated with third parties. When Donald Trump, who considered a Reform Party bid for President in 2000, took the stage, he attacked Paul as ‘unelectable’, sparking relative silence from the long-time congressman.
To readers at CPAC: What minor party or Independent activity do you see in the background at this event?