Off to CPAC to see what’s up

I’ll be heading down to the Conservative Political Action Conference near Washington, DC for a one-day visit on Friday. While I’m down there, I look forward to hearing from (and maybe interviewing?) the authors of a new book on Kermit Gosnell and his crimes. That’s one book-signing I’ll stand in line for.

Yes, the President will be speaking, but as longtime readers know, that’s not something for which I’d travel to Washington. I’m going for the lower-profile events. I know from other CPACs that the most worthwhile material comes not from the big names but from the lesser-known speakers, from the conversations in the hallways, and from the breakout sessions.

The tweeting and Instagramming will commence as soon as I’m off the train Friday morning and will continue until I get back to South Station 24 hours later. Those so inclined are welcome to follow along at @leaven4theloaf.

Some notes from my trips to earlier CPACs: Ten Hours at CPAC (2015), Notes from CPAC 2014, Encountering New Faces and Old Friends (2013)

Taking a field trip to CPAC

Author Eric Metaxas signing books at CPAC '14. The CPAC on-site bookstore is a treat.
Author Eric Metaxas signing books at CPAC ’14. The CPAC on-site bookstore is a treat.

I’ll be heading down to Washington tomorrow for a much-too-short one-day stop at the Conservative Political Action Conference. That’s like trying to do Disney World in a day. As I’ve done during the past two CPACs, I’ll be listening for how candidates address (or ignore) the right to life. Americans United for Life and the Susan B. Anthony List will be offering presentations away from the main stage.

I’ll be tweeting and Instagramming (both @leaven4theloaf) plus posting to Facebook on Friday, with full posts to follow.  I hope you’ll join me online.



Posts from CPAC ’13: day 1, day 2, day 3, photo gallery, & Eric Metaxas’s excellent speech on religious liberty and the Obamacare contraceptive mandate

Posts from CPAC ’14: day 1, day 2, and my free advice for anyone planning to take a trip to CPAC


A resource for the pro-life toolbox

One of my better finds at the CPAC exhibit hall: a booklet called How to Speak Up for Life: Questions and Answers Driving the Debate. It’s sixteen pages of good information, including notes and references. I wish I’d picked up a handful instead of just one. You can view it yourself at

Thumbs up to the organizations that worked together to produce the brochure: Heritage Foundation, Alliance Defending Freedom, Americans United for Life, Concerned Women for America, Focus on the Family, March for Life, and the Charlotte Lozier Institute (educational arm of the Susan B. Anthony List).


CPAC’14 preliminary schedule shows little about the life issues

CPAC 2014 is less than two weeks away: probably the biggest gathering of conservatives (not all of them pro-life) you’re likely to find outside a party convention. My media credential is printed and ready to be packed. A preliminary list of topics for the main-stage and breakout sessions came out today.

Note the parenthetical phrase in the preceding paragraph.

At last year’s CPAC, I listened to Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life and Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List, and I watched an early screening of 3801 Lancasterand I heard mainstage speakers like Ben Carson and Eric Metaxas take on  “social issues” with gusto.

Well, at least Metaxas and Carson will be back this year.

This year’s schedule so far includes presentations and panels on Obamacare, the role of the executive branch vis-a-vis the legislative branch, the economy and immigration. I can attend sessions about marijuana legalization, privacy issues, criminal justice reform, Common Core, conservatism within the entertainment industry, entrepreneurism, and social media.

Life and religious liberty haven’t made the cut yet. There’s nothing listed about the HHS mandate, with a Supreme Court ruling on it due within a few months. This is an odd omission. “Expect additions and changes in the coming days,” says the schedule. Let’s hope so.

I do see a scheduled panel entitled “Why Conservatism is Right for Women: how conservatives should talk about life, prosperity, and national security.”  I devoutly hope no one from the RNC – at least, no one who was on the RNC in 2012 – will be on that panel to try to explain how conservatives should talk about life.

The truth remains that not every pro-lifer is conservative, and not every conservative is pro-life. Undoubtedly, some of CPAC’s mainstage speakers will seize the opportunity to put life and religious liberty up there where they belong. It’s interesting, though, to see what’s on the agenda so far.

Travel tips from a CPAC sophomore

Several life-issue bills I’ve been following are coming up for votes in Concord this week. Bit of a pressure cooker up there, in fact. I’m finding brief diversion in planning for my trip to Washington, D.C. for CPAC in a couple of weeks.

This will be my second CPAC. It’s political-blogger heaven, and I’m looking forward to it. If you’re planning to go for the first time, learn a few things from my limited experience.

1. Wear comfortable shoes. Last year, there were three tiers of programs going on at the same time, over three levels of the convention center. I felt sorry for the twenty-somethings in their pointy-toed high-heeled shoes. Granted, they looked smashing – a description with which I’ve never been burdened.

2. Do NOT count on the convention center’s Wi-Fi connection. That goes double if you’re blogging or otherwise reporting from the venue. The Tea Party Patriots plunked down a huge chunk of change to pay for Wi-Fi for everyone at CPAC 2013, which was a generous & thoughtful thing to do. It didn’t help me, because the convention center’s bandwidth was hopelessly overwhelmed by the thousands of people trying to use it. (Yes, thousands.) I’m packing mifi this year.

3. If you plan to meet up with someone at CPAC, be sure you have the person’s cell phone number. You’ll need it to text your cancelation message when you realize there’s too much going on.

4. Download the conference schedule before you get there, then realize you can’t possibly see and hear everyone on the list. Don’t spend all your time trying to hear the top-billed speakers. (Try to catch some of them, though. I must admit Rand Paul was fantastic last year, fresh off his filibuster.) Especially where the life issues are concerned, the interesting speakers and conversations will be in the side rooms.

5. Everything will cost more than you expect. Think Disney with fewer tropical-print shirts. Pounce on free lunch if you find it – Rick Santorum’s group hosted one last year. The conversation at the table was a bonus: I found myself seated with college students from four states, happy to take questions from me.

So I’ll be off to the big city in a couple of weeks, taking my Granite State show on the road, in search (as always) of political lifeforms of the prolife persuasion. Stay tuned.