Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee ripped into the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) yesterday calling it increasingly “more Libertarian and less Republican over the last few years, one of the reasons why I didn’t go this year.” He responded this way after Fox News host Geraldo Rivera presented the CPAC straw poll voter results showing that the governor scored poorly at only four percent among CPAC straw poll voters.
At the goading of Mr. Rivera, Mr. Huckabee slammed CPAC as now irrelevant due to the tea party events all over the country. The former Arkansas governor and presidential GOP candidate said, “The tea party has taken all the oxygen out of the room, where CPAC was historically the event, the tea parties now are having their events all over the country and a lot more grassroots people are truly getting involved, because of the tea parties.”
He took his biggest shot at how CPAC finds co-sponsors and speakers for their panels, saying, “I think because the way it solicits sponsors, its almost become a pay for play. It’s kind of like who will pay money to be able to be a sponsor and to be able to get time on the program. That’s what hurt its credibility in the last couple of years.”
The American Conservative Union, the organization that hosts CPAC each year, has responded to Mr. Huckabee:
“We are perplexed by Governor Huckabee’s comments about CPAC given our long and cordial relationship with him and his family.
For those who don’t understand how CPAC operates, here is a thumbnail sketch: Our cosponsors meet several times during the year to suggest topics and speakers who they believe should be invited. Many of those invited are from groups that are neither co-sponsors nor financial supporters of the conference itself. This year, for example, groups that provided speakers but weren’t co-sponsors included among others Fox News, the American Enterprise Institute, and The Club for Growth, The Tea Party Patriots, Students for Life and dozens of others.
The Governor himself has spoken at several CPAC conferences in the past and he was invited to speak at CPAC 2010. On December 18th we were advised that his schedule wouldn’t permit his participation this year, but hoped we would have a ‘wonderful event’. The Governor’s daughter Sarah was able to attend CPAC, and participated in XPAC, the student lounge at CPAC sponsored by Xtreme Media (radio hosts Kevin McCullough and Stephen Baldwin). Organizers said she did a great job and the CPAC students loved her.
CPAC 2010 drew more than 10,000 conservative activists from around the country representing every part of the movement and including more than 5000 college students. We were proud that Sarah, who introduced her dad at last year’s conference, was part of the record-breaking crowd this year.
We hope next year she’ll be back and bring her dad!”
The ACU appears to be pretty forgiving of Governor Huckabee’s actions on the Fox News channel yesterday given the circumstances. One must wonder what happened when when his daughter, Sarah, caught up with him later on. However, talk about biting the hand that feeds you. CPAC organizers may be quick to turn the other cheek, but CPAC attendees may not be so forgiving next time around.