- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 23, 2017

Helping kick off the Conservative Political Action Conference, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told grass-roots activists gathered in suburban Maryland on Thursday that they were part and parcel to President Trump’s historic campaign and victory.

“In the case of candidate Trump, and president-elect and nominee Trump, he went right to the grass roots and brought you along,” Ms. Conway said. “He made people feel from the beginning they were part of this movement.”

“We really owe it all to you,” she said. “I think it’s a combination of Donald Trump and Mike Pence as the best messengers, quality candidates, and really the grass roots. … I just wanted to come and personally thank you.”

The annual conference, held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, comes as the conservative movement is at a crossroads, even as Republicans control the White House and both Houses of Congress for the first time in more than a decade.

Conservatives are thrilled that Mr. Trump, who is scheduled to speak here Friday, helped usher in a Republican-controlled Washington after eight years of President Obama.

But many in the movement were skeptical of Mr. Trump early on in the Republican presidential primary contest, pointing to past comments on pro-choice beliefs and gun control, for example, as violations of conservative orthodoxy.

After bring a frequent CPAC guest in recent years, Mr. Trump skipped last year’s conference to campaign and finished a distant third in the event’s presidential straw poll behind Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

But Mr. Trump’s pledge to nominate conservative justices to the Supreme Court and his championing of pro-life and pro-gun rights principles during the campaign, among other things, helped foster a fairly unified conservative movement heading into Election Day.

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