NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Participants at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference see a political movement with "ascendency" and "energy."
Jim Lakely, communications director for The Heartland Institute, told The Christian that he felt the conservative movement was "in the ascendency."
"The presidency of Barack Obama has shown the country what liberalism is, the kind of stuff that conservatives have been warning about for a long time," Lakely commented. "I think conservatives are coming together more now than they ever have in the past thanks to what we all are trying to oppose, the public policy changes. So getting away from government-controlled liberalism and getting back to free markets."
This year's CPAC, which kicked off Thursday, is being held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. The multiday conference, sponsored by the Washington, D.C.-based American Conservative Union, features prominent public speakers, conservative activists, and various groups and organizations of the American Right.
Lakely's organization has been active in CPAC for years due to their president, Joe Bast, being on the ACU's board. Having been to CPACs in the past that were held at Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in the District of Columbia, Lakely told CP that the Gaylord Convention Center was "a big change" and a "very good facility."
Due to its growth, CPAC organizers moved their annual event back in 2012 given the need to accommodate more guests compared to past years.
"I know there was controversy about moving it over here," said Lakely, adding that "you get used to being in a certain place."
"I actually think it fits CPAC's mission very well. There's a lot of room for growth here and I think it's a very excellent place. The flow here is better just physically than the other place."
For Danya Tapolcai, local promotions director for the major Christian radio station Salem Communications, this is her first CPAC.
"It's great actually," said Tapolcai of the Washington, D.C.-based radio station, adding that at CPAC "the energy is good and it's a lot of fun."
"There's a lot of younger people … out here so you have mid-twenties to early thirties so that's a really good new way to go and I think it's a way that the Republican Party really needed to go directionally," said Tapolcai.
"They needed new life and new ideas and we need more ideas on how to get out of the debt that we're in and I think that this is a good generation to do it."
Frank Mitchell of Tennessee, a self-described "Reagan Lincoln Republican" and founder of the group A Shining City on a Hill, told CP that he hoped to advance a winning platform strategy for the GOP while at CPAC.
"This is Reagan's theme," said Mitchell regarding the Puritan vision of a "City upon a hill," a phrase taken from the New Testament, "Ronald Reagan's theme of his campaign and his political career, that's why we call ourselves the Reagan Lincoln Republicans."
Mitchell further described to CP what he felt the Republican Party should adopt in contrast to the Democratic Party's "social justice" and "statism."
"For the Christian, you want to do what's God's will for government and religion, but also in government or politics how you run your nation as a shining city on a hill with liberty and justice for all," said Mitchell.
"I hope to see it going in a shining city on a hill way because that's a winning vision and if we bring that vision back to the Republican Party it will get the same results that Reagan got which is victory in a landslide."
Mitchell had attended CPAC "as an attendee about 10 years ago" and commented to CP that this year "they are much more organized and set up to deal with a lot of people."
CPAC concludes Saturday.