CPAC Attendee Finds Mostly Empty Hall for Minority Vote Outreach Panel

That big tent will have quite an echo.


John Hudak, managing editor of the Brooking Institution's FixGov blog, went to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), reportedly a convention of Republican conservatives looking to figure out how to win elections. This year's conference opened today. Hudak headed to a panel on minority voter outreach. This is what he saw:

Good thing they didn't do that "look under your seat" prize giveaway.
John Hudak

He later blogged about the experience:

The panel included Virginia Senate candidate Ed Gillespie and a panel of Republican political strategists: Jason Roe, Elroy Sailor, and Robert Woodson. The panel delivered a remarkably pointed review of GOP voter outreach (largely its failures) and explained, in very straightforward terms, how the party can (and must) do better. However, the most revealing part of the experience was not what happened on stage, but what happened off stage, and reflects the national electoral struggles Republicans are facing.

About ten minutes into the panel, I snapped a photo (shown above) of a largely empty ballroom. The lack of attendance for the panel is a huge loss and missed opportunity for participants. CPAC brings together some of the Republican Party's most passionate, engaged, and eager members. The people who attend the meetings run campaigns, volunteer for issue-based efforts and candidates' campaigns. They are leadership in an army of grassroots conservatism. The panel of Gillespie, Roe, Sailor and Woodson was there to address a basic question: how do we grow our ranks in areas where we traditionally underperform?

The advice was solid. Woodson explained that one problem is that "we don't have a ground game" particularly in minority neighborhoods. Sailor eloquently noted a key to Republican success: "We don't have to abandon our existing friends to make new ones." The message was simple. Republicans don't necessarily have to change their values. They have to change how they talk about the issues and who they talk to. That takeaway is not a tall order, but something doable, something digestible. And, most notably, there are people in the party who know how to do it.

I looked up CPAC's schedule and didn't see any particularly amazing counterprogramming to explain the lack of interest. Hudak noted that the room eventually did fill up, but only because the panel ran late and people started pouring in to hear Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, speak. He was a big hit, of course.

Over at Reason 24/7 we have links to coverage of all the major CPAC activity today.

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  1. “The Stupid Party? Gonna Stupid”

    The End

    1. Probably. Though I must say that scheduling can affect attendance, too. I was shifted to the last day with a conference presentation once (because another guy’s flight got cancelled), and it was me and ten guys. Very much worth flying me to Malaysia for a week, I’m sure.

      1. We’ll always have Malaysia, ProL…

        1. Were you one of the ten guys? Seems like they were all Asians and Africans, because they didn’t have to leave early to fly out.

          1. Oh, so you assume I’m not “Asian and African”.

            That’s racist, straight up! Way to play to stereotype – AND this story.

            *twirls on heel – departs*

            1. Actually, I was asking whether you were Asian or African. Understand, these are not hyphenated people–these were nationals of countries from each continent. I think there might’ve been a white guy–a New Zealander–too.

              1. From his name, he could be Yemeni.

                1. “This isn’t Yemeni! It’s Sulawesi! And the cup’s shaking! I don’t want my coffee shaking!”

  2. He was a bit hit, of course.

    What’s this about needing proofreaders?

  3. “Republicans don’t necessarily have to change their values. They have to change how they talk about the issues and who they talk to.”

    Say that to John or RC Dean, and you’d think I didn’t care about the Constitution anymore.…..nt_4351810

  4. This is unsurprising and pathetic. Libertarians and Greens both have a better chance of becoming a ‘major’ party among non-white non-old people.

    1. I know.

      And the biggest drag on our poll numbers is Democrats (wrongly) denouncing libertarians as being a bunch of racists like the Republicans, too.

      These people just cannot conceive of the possibility that what other people think of as appealing, isn’t what they think of as appealing.

      The message behind both of the following pitches basically have the same political message. They’re just pitched to different people.

      It’s all group identity and aesthetics!

      Some people would rather give up their gun rights–if keeping them required us to run ads that are appealing to hipsters. I’m just not one of those people.

    2. To be fair, certain libertarians (usually members of the LRC crowd) do shit that makes libertarians look bad on this issue and allows leftists to conflate libertarians and conservatives.

  5. If it was a packed house, it would’ve been mostly white males – because that’s who goes to these things – and then the spin would have been “this is conservative’s idea of diversity”. The same line of attack when Rand Paul tried to do something similar in Detroit recently.

    Or maybe conservative/libertarian activists like to look at people as individuals and not play identity politics, not only because it is futile but because it is condescending and illogical.

    1. There’s a big difference between not playing identity politics – and talking endlessly about not playing identity politics while ensconced in an all-white room.

      Face it – ‘Vote for me because I don’t play identity politics’ is about as compelling a vote-getter as ‘Vote for me because I’m not a chipmunk’.

    2. Or maybe conservative/libertarian activists like to look at people as individuals and not play identity politics, not only because it is futile but because it is condescending and illogical.

      Libertarian activists do. Statist conservatives love identity politics; they just idolize different identities from those that statist liberals idolize.

  6. Eh, this may speak to either discouragement or resignation more than lack of interest. ‘improve your ground game’ and ‘market yourself better’ sound like things that the GOP has tried at one time or another during the 90

    1. “I’m just gonna take it one day at a time, and – Lord willing – things will work out. I just wanna give it my best shot.”

  7. Conservatives have a bug up their ass about ‘pandering’. That and many of them are actually closet racists (LA RAZA GONNA TAKE MUH KIDZ).

  8. Yeah, way to provide easy fodder for the comedians and progtards

  9. Also at CPAC

    1. Hey, can I get a life-sized Rand Paul for my office? How much do I need to donate?

      1. That would kick ass. Especially if the life-size Rand Paul had a cupholder in one hand. So you could set your beer there…


        1. In college, we had a full-sized Bartles and James cardboard standup. We had a friend who was with Maris (yes, that Maris) Distributing, so we got all sorts of freebies.

  10. Oh boy, CPAC time. I predict some dumbass says something racial and MSNBC talks about it for a month.

    1. Plus, people will start searching “cpac m4m” on the local Craigslist and posting the results.

      1. It is at the Gaylord National Resort.

    1. What did you answer for question #3?

          1. Slow clap. Fast clap if you didn’t use the preview button.

  11. Black conservative community organizer lambastes liberals for condition of Detroit, gets Raw Story commentators to show their true colors

    pategp ? 4 minutes ago
    Let me revise the title of the article: Black, Uncle Tom, Koch-sucking conservatives like Mr. Woodson make things even worse for the rest of us. They give cover to other conservatives who can point to them and say” see we must telling you the truth and the right way to do things. Otherwise, why would people like Mr. Woodson agree with us?” What I would like to see is Mr. Woodson head down to Texas, Arizona, the Dakotas, etc. and go out to militia country and tell those folks he finds there what great friends of his they are.

    Skipdallas ? 13 minutes ago
    These pathetic Uncle Tom conservative idiots will never understand what clueless tools they really are.

    oseSduf ? 19 minutes ago
    Where in the hell are all these black Nazis coming from?

    Cogswell ? an hour ago
    I believe Mr. Woodson is self loathing personified.

    They just don’t care if they reveal their racism, do they?

    1. It’s telling how quick they go to that trough and also how much they don’t really want to address, let alone solve, real problems for blacks.

    2. I believe Mr. Woodson is self loathing personified.

      Only self-loathing people would dare question the received wisdom. (I’ve gotten that, too.)

    3. I believe Mr. Woodson is self loathing personified.

      I have a word for this. It starts with a “p” and is like what they do with movies in theaters.

      1. Popcorn!

      2. I like it better with the whole word in bold. You made me think after 3pm, and I don’t like it one bit.

  12. How should libertarians reach out to the Irish?

    Or the Chinese?

    Or the Jews?

    1. “…but we don’t want the Irish!”

    2. First one is easy, booze and potatoes.

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