“The environment that’s been created now is so hostile to anyone that has a different view. And particularly those of us who have taken principled stands against Donald Trump as conservatives,” said Tara Setmayer, a Republican communications director on Capitol Hill in the pre-Trump era.
Setmayer said she attended 15 CPACs, starting when she was a college student in 1993, and stopped after 2015. And in the age of Trump, going now was out of the question. “I don’t think I would feel safe going to speak, or even walking through CPAC given my position against stuff.”…
A former CPAC organizer admitted that this symbiosis with the White House was a likely draw for attendees. “I can’t imagine that it hasn’t garnered attendees that may have attended before and never got to experience a sitting president and First Family, as well as a sitting VP and almost every cabinet secretary representative or cabinet level official,” said this organizer.
Admittedly, CPAC’s exiles now have other options to network with their political ilk. This weekend alone, two other conservative groups are holding events in Washington in direct competition with CPAC. The Summit on Principled Conservatism, held by young Trump critic Heath Mayo and focusing on the “meaning of conservatism, its future, and its core principles”, set up shop at the National Press Club.