- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 2, 2008

President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney will make history next week when they address the 35th annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

It will be the first time in 35 years that both the president and vice president have addressed the conference in person in the same year.

It also marks the first time that Mr. Bush will make a personal appearance at CPAC since he became president. In the past, he has sent videotaped greetings.

Mr. Cheney already had agreed to speak when CPAC organizers were surprised by a call from the White House saying the president also would like a chance to appear.

The president’s relations with movement conservatives has been bumpy, as CPAC Chairman David A. Keene noted in an interview.

“We are pleased to welcome him,” Mr. Keene said. “Conservatives have a very mixed view of George W. Bush. He is personally popular with them, but many of them also are deeply disappointed with some of the results of his administration.”

The meeting is expected to draw about 6,000 conservative activists from university campuses and political action organizations, state legislatures and state government leaders across the country.

Mr. Cheney, who has addressed every CPAC since becoming vice president, will deliver his address at 11 a.m. Thursday, the first day of the three-day conference at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.

Mr. Cheney has always been a big draw and has won a warm reception from the group even though many in the center-right coalition that helps elect Republicans have their differences with the Bush-Cheney administration.

“Conservatives have blamed the leadership in the White House and in Congress for being asleep at the switch when spending and growth of government got out of hand,” said Mr. Keene, who is also chairman of the American Conservative Union, the chief sponsor of the meeting.

“But they like the fact that he won tax cuts and tried to do something about entitlement spending,” he said.

Ronald Reagan appeared at 17 CPACs, seven of them while he was president. The first President Bush did not address the conference during his four years in the White House but spoke there once as vice president.

Republican presidential candidates John McCain, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul also will speak at CPAC next week. Only Mike Huckabee had not responded to an invitation to speak at the conference.

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