- The Washington Times - Monday, February 19, 2018

Marion Maréchal-Le Pen’s invitation to speak at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference has yet again exposed fault lines on the right — the latest skirmish in the battle for conservatism’s soul in the age of Trump.

Matt Schlapp, chair of the American Conservative Union, which puts on the preeminent conservative political conference every year, fended off criticism from conservative thinkers — chiefly National Review’s Jonah Goldberg — on Monday night over the decision to extend an invitation to the former National Front MP.

Responding to a remark from the Reagan Battalion, Mr. Schlapp described Ms. Maréchal-Le Pen, granddaughter of FN founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, as a “classical liberal” and “conservative.” He said she should not be confused with her aunt, Marine Le Pen, who heads the right-wing populist party.

Mr. Goldberg said Ms. Maréchal-Le Pen’s conservative credentials are news to him.

Ms. Maréchal-Le Pen, 28, became the youngest member of parliament in modern French history when she was elected to a seat in France’s southeast region in 2012.

Proclaimed a “rising star” by former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, Ms. Maréchal-Le Pen stepped away from politics last year citing a desire to spend more time with her daughter.

She is more socially conservative than her aunt, publicly clashing with her on abortion rights, and is also seen as a throwback to her grandfather’s more outspoken nationalism.

Monday night’s Twitter exchange appeared to take a personal turn when Mr. Schlapp brought Mr. Goldberg’s wife, a speechwriter for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, into the conversation.

Mr. Goldberg called the remark “bad form.”

Mr. Schlapp insisted that Ms. Maréchal-Le Pen has rejected her family’s politics.

CPAC kicks off Wednesday night at the National Harbor in Oxen Hill, Maryland. Ms. Maréchal-Le Pen will address the conference on Thursday afternoon, right after remarks by Vice President Mike Pence.

For the second year in a row, President Trump will make an appearance at the flagship conservative gathering, addressing conference-goers on Friday morning.

Other notable speakers include Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Fox News host Sean Hannity.

• Bradford Richardson can be reached at brichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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