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Potential 2016 Contenders Dominate CPAC Lineup

Rand will return to CPAC to speak on Friday. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Rand will return to CPAC to speak on Friday. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Five Republicans who could share a presidential primary debate stage next year will all deliver speeches by lunchtime at today’s start of the Conservative Political Action Conference.  

Potential 2016 White House contenders, elected officials and conservative darlings are lining up over the next few days to address thousands of conservative activists descending on the nation’s capital for the annual retreat.  

The three-day program kicks off with a speech by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a freshman who’s built substantial support within the conservative movement since his upset victory in 2012. Other possible presidential candidates following him on the main ballroom stage throughout the morning include (in order of appearance) House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. Friday’s agenda includes speeches by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., three more possible White House aspirants. Each of them are among the 26 Republicans listed in this year’s presidential straw poll, according to the Washington Times , the poll’s sponsor.  

Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., won’t be in attendance this year, Republican aides said. But the GOP’s Senate leaders, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas — who are both seeking re-election this cycle — are slated to speak.  

For the second year, the event is being held just outside the Beltway in National Harbor, Md. It’s no longer Metro accessible, but the well-attended conference has outgrown the confines of its former cozy hotel digs in Woodley Park.  

Beyond the speeches, the gathering includes book signings, meet-and-greets with conservative icons and dozens of information booths run by varying conservative-aligned organizations. Some of the panel discussions this year are titled, “What’s the deal with global warming?” and “Rocky Mountain High: Does legalized pot mean society’s going up in smoke?”  

The full CPAC schedule can be found here .

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