By David Brody
The Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., has a new feel this year, primarily because of the Tea Party movement spreading across the U.S.
The annual event, which kicked off Feb. 18, gives conservatives a chance to come together and discuss ideas on how to win future elections.
It didn’t take long for this year’s CPAC to get humming. Marco Rubio, an up-and-coming conservative prominent in the Tea Party movement, was the event’s first speaker.
Rubio is running for the Florida Senate, taking on the more moderate and popular Republican Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.
Rubio was 30 points down in the polls, but has now pulled ahead. And despite Crist’s attempt to question Rubio’s conservative credentials, Tea Partiers see him as the genuine conservative real deal.
Rubio is part of the “new guard” at CPAC — younger, grassroots-type conservatives trying to make their mark on the Republican party. The “old guard” is still around, but the players are changing.
“Rock stars” at the conservative concert are people like South Carolina Sen. Jim Demint, who’s been extremely influential. His Senate Conservatives Fund is contributing money to conservative Republican candidates across the country who are taking on moderate Republican challengers.