Former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio has been named keynote speaker for the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
Rubio, a U.S. Senate candidate from Florida, is in a battle for the Republican nomination with Gov. Charlie Crist for the seat Sen. Mel Martinez vacated this fall.
“We chose Rubio because he is an upcoming leader,” CPAC Director Lisa De Pasquale told Politico. “He is someone that a lot of people are excited about. His name keeps getting brought up and we decided that he would be a good keynote for 2010.”
"It's hard to overstate the importance of a CPAC appearance for a conservative politician,” De Pasquale said of the gathering of conservative activists. “The annual conference of young conservatives draws thousands of right-wing activists and media outlets, offering the keynote speaker a national platform to address the future of the Republican Party's conservative base."
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Rubio is slightly behind Crist in a tightening race, according to the latest Rasmussen poll.
Although Rubio appeals to the party’s hard-line conservatives, Crist, who gained the endorsement of the National Republican Senatorial Committee in May, has the support of numerous moderate Republicans in Washington.
“Marco Rubio is honored by the invitation and opportunity,” said his communications director, Alex Burgos said. “He looks forward to sharing his vision of why mainstream conservative Republicans are needed in Washington more than ever.”
The CPAC appearance should help Rubio’s fundraising efforts, Burgos said, as well as enhance his prominence among young conservatives in the country.
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., was keynote speaker this year, while former President George W. Bush keynoted in 2008.
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