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The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is an annual three-day conference hosted by the American Conservative Union (ACU). This event tends to attract a great deal of attention in the conservative community, with attendees coming from all over the United States to connect with other conservatives, attend workshops, and listen to speeches from prominent American conservatives. During election years, the events tend to attract attention from the wider American world as well, since the conference often hosts potential presidential candidates, and it can be an indicator of a candidate's potential success.
The first CPAC was held in 1973, and since then, the conference has grown to include over 6,000 attendees, ranging from elected officials to individual conservative activists. When it is held during a Republican presidential administration, it is common for the president of the United States to attend, along with numerous officials from the administration. Prominent conservative politicians and commentators also attend, and they are commonly asked to give speeches at the event.
During the conference, attendees can listen to political speeches and panels, and attend various workshops where issues of concern to the conservative community are discussed. It is also common for the event to host book signings, award ceremonies, and screenings of films of interest. Conservative organizations like the National Rifle Association are often heavily represented as well, sponsoring the conference and providing gift bags to guests.
Although many people associate CPAC with the Republican party in particular, it is open to anyone who wishes to attend, and conservatives from other parties, such as the Libertarian party, are often present, along with intrigued members of groups that are traditionally thought of as more liberal, like the Democrats. Attendees generally have an intense interest in American policies and in the direction of the nation, and they hope to help shape national policies by networking with other conservatives and meeting elected officials.
The location of the conference varies from year to year, and it is generally announced well in advance to allow people to make travel and hotel arrangements. It is often held near Washington, DC, since this region is very active politically, and the conference organizers want to make it easy for elected officials and policy makers to attend. Tickets are available from the ACU or through the CPAC staff directly, with options including day passes and VIP packages, which include banquets, membership in the ACU, and private events with American conservative leaders.