The influential American Conservative Union will announce later this morning that former GOP presidential hopefuls Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain will reunite at the organization’s star-studded Conservative Political Action Conference in Chicago next month in a “show of unity,” Newsmax.TV has learned.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has been frequently mentioned as a possible vice presidential running mate for presumptive GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, both have also accepted invitations to speak at the one-day event on June 8, according to sources close to the event.
Al Cardenas, chairman of the ACU, which hosts CPAC, tells Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview that one of the highlights of the event will be a straw poll to determine the best candidate to be on the Republican ticket in November as former Gov. Romney’s running mate.
“We’ll have former presidential candidates there to have a show of unity,” Cardenas added on Wednesday. “Hopefully Mitt Romney can come. An invitation has been tendered. Those things don’t usually get vetted until a couple of weeks away from the event, and so it’s kind of early to hear from him.”
See the exclusive excerpt from Newsmax' interview with Al Cardenas below:
With the timing of the event only two months before the GOP nominating convention in August, the straw poll of vice presidential picks is likely to take on added significance. An earlier regional CPAC event in Florida drew some 4,000 attendees, according to Cardenas.
The ACU has hosted CPAC since 1974, drawing some 10,000 mostly conservative attendees and another 2,000 media at the organization’s recent national conference in Washington, D.C.
“The idea of getting out of the beltway is to start working with those great think tanks — conservative think tanks around the country — and with those tea party groups that have done so much to move the conservative agenda forward,” Cardenas explained.
The Heartland Institute and Right Nation are regional organizations that have teamed up with ACU to support the Chicago event, according to Cardenas.
“So what you do in the process of organizing an event like this is you’re motivating great organizations to be part of the movement and to be active in a project,” he said. “And hopefully everyone comes together at the event, leaves energized with a better sense of purpose, and that’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Newsmax.TV has also confirmed that the following speakers have accepted invitations for the event:
• American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks
• Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin
• Ohio Gov. John Kasich
• Rep. Steve King of Iowa
• Indiana State Treasurer and Candidate for U.S. Senate Richard Mourdock
• Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois
• Former U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg and Missouri congressional candidate Ann Wagner
• Vice President for Leadership for America Operations of The Heritage Foundation Genevieve Wood
• The ACU’s Cardenas.
The various sessions planned for the event provide a glimpse into what organizers consider to be important themes that will resonate among conservative Midwest voters in the November election.
The sessions will include:
• Waking Goliath: The Midwest Stands Up to Union Special Interests
• Keeping the Faith: Winning the Left’s War on Traditional Values and Religious Freedom
• President Obama’s Fast and Furious Disregard for the Rule of Law
• Reagan Doctrine v. Obama Doctrine: Comparing the Foreign Policy Agendas of Illinois’ Native Sons
• Jobs in Jeopardy: The Future of Capitalism in the Midwest
• The CPAC All Star Panel: A Look at the 2012 Political Landscape
• Repeal and Replace: The Ongoing Fight for Health Care Freedom in America
• Out of Gas: President Obama’s Failed Energy and Overregulation Agenda
• Choice and Innovation in Education: A Reform Agenda for Schools
• Defending Self-Defense: The Liberals’ Shadow War on Second Amendment Rights
The ACU is planning one more regional event later this year in an area that will cover Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, according to Cardenas.
In addition to sending a message to the Obama campaign, the Chicago location as well as the the other regional sites were selected for their importance to help mobilize “grassroots conservatives” across the nation to “defeat the liberal agenda” in November.
“We believe that we need to have a presence in those places that will actually determine the election this cycle. And Chicago as you know is the largest city in that area, but we’re attracting folks from Ohio, from Michigan, from Illinois, from Indiana,” Cardenas explained. “The whole idea here is to get the Midwest focused, and geared, and excited about moving forward.”
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