Sen. Rubio cannot have it both ways: he cannot hope to be the inspirational leader of conservatives and at the same time hide at the very moments when activists who comprise the heart and soul of the movement assemble and organize. For 43 years CPAC has been that critical moment, and this year’s conference will be the biggest yet.
Ronald Reagan came to CPAC 13 times; he launched his national political career from CPAC and our theme this year comes from President Reagan’s first public address after his 1980 election. That theme is “Our Time is Now.” Reagan’s words ring even truer today than when Reagan first said them. If we do not carry the country in 2016, America will be a different nation. But if conservatives are not central to the effort, we will fail before we even begin.
We also appreciate those candidates and former candidates who have made CPAC 2016 a priority: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson, Scott Walker and Carly Fiorina (our former Foundation Chair.) They honor Reagan’s legacy and they honor the thousands of conservative activists who will spend significant resources to travel to CPAC to learn, be inspired, and eventually vote in our straw poll for the person they want to carry the Reagan torch.