The Washington Times - February 17, 2010, 07:44AM

Hosted by the American Conservative Union Foundation (ACU), the annual three-day Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) gears up on Thursday at Washington, D.C.’s, Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. Organizers do not seem concerned whatsoever about turnout this week. Last year’s CPAC brought forth reportedly 9,000 attendees from all over the country, which was a record number for the yearly event, and CPAC staffers are expecting more this year.

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“I think one of the reasons our registrations are up 20 percent this year is that new people were brought into the conservative movement, as Obama came into the White House,” said CPAC’s Director Lisa DePasquale to The Washington Times.

That could very well be the case. Last CPAC, conservatives had just been run over by Barack Obama mania. They needed time to regroup and re-strategize. After going on a rant about the government forcing taxpayers to bail out failed mortgages, CNBC’s Rick Santelli called for a “Chicago tea party” a little over a week before last year’s CPAC.  Not only did a tea party rally with CPAC attendees protesting big government policies happen in Washington, but other tea party rallies popped up all over the nation thereafter and throughout the year. Soon tea party participants were helping candidates defeat Democrats in the most unlikely areas of the country.

“That one [tea party rally] was organized the Thursday of CPAC. It was organized, because many people were going to be in town. We have several of the tea party organizers speaking on panels[this year],” Ms. Depasquale says.

This Thursday, CPAC attendees will walk into the Marriot Wardman Park Hotel with likely more confidence than last year. With President Obama’s poll numbers far below what they were a little before last year’s CPAC, two GOP governor pick ups in both New Jersey and Virginia, and the Republicans’ new weapon to mount a sustainable filibuster in the Senate—Sen. Scott Brown (R – MA), the excitement at CPAC for a conservative comeback in the 2010 mid-term elections will likely be catered to by the various CPAC co-sponsors.

“We have a lot more co-sponsor events this year.  The main CPAC program is what’s going on in the general session and is just one part of the whole CPAC experience,” said Ms. Depasquale.

As usual, attendees will also have the opportunity to attend speeches by some of their favorite conservatives. This year’s CPAC speakers include: Dick Armey, John Ashcroft, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R – MN), Ann Coulter, Mitt Romney, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Amb. John Bolton, Sen. Jim DeMint (R – S.C.), and Newt Gingrich. 

Along with 100 registered bloggers at CPAC, there will also be an XPAC lounge. The XPAC lounge is primarily aimed at those under 30, particularly college students. Games, food, and beverages will be on hand for young conservatives. CPAC opens at 9:45 AM on Thursday with remarks from the American Conservative Union’s David Keene.