The American Conservative Union (ACU) announced today that it will bring its regional Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) to Florida this fall.
This is the first time in the 47-year history of the conference that a version of the convention it will be held outside of Washington, D.C. “CPAC FL” will be held in Orlando on September 23 the day after the Fox News’ GOP Presidential debate.
“It was about time that we take the conservative message on the road and go to the states,” said CPAC director, Chris Malagisi.
CPAC FL will not replace the high-profile conservative gathering that takes place in Washington, D.C. each year. Rather, it will serve as an additional resource for grassroots activists.
ACU Communications Director Kristy Campbell said the idea of a regional conference was a part of Chairman Al Cardenas vision for the organization when he was elected in February. Cardenas succeeded David Keene, who had been chairman of the ACU since 1984.
Campbell said the ACU selected Florida for the conference because it will be a key battleground state in 2012. Obama won the state in 2008 with 51 percent of the vote to Sen. John McCain’s 48 percent.
She said the decision to hold the conference in Florida was not related to negative attention Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) had been receiving in the media.
“Part of the flack he is taking there is for advancing an agenda that we support,” she said. “He’s getting flack for cutting spending and getting really aggressive with things like pensions.”
Malagisi said the conference would focus on national, regional state and local issues and the ACU would not only national groups to sponsor the conference, but local groups as well. He said the Heartland Institute is the main sponsor of the event, but invitations had been extended to CPAC’s other traditional sponsors as well.
The group has also sent invitations to each of the presidential candidates to speak at the conference but has not yet received any confirmations. Malagisi emphasized that the conference is not being held in conjunction with FOX.
“It’s a completely separate event. There’s a lot of stuff going on that weekend,” he said.
He said the thinking was that conservatives in town for other events, such as the debate, would naturally want to stop by CPAC-FL, too.
The ACU previously announced this week that it would be expanding it’s conservative ratings from only the national level to the state level in five states, including Florida, in preparation for the 2012 elections.