11 speeches to watch at CPAC

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is up and running, as is our live blog of the proceedings.


U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) makes remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Oxon Hill, Maryland, March 6, 2014. Thousands of conservative activists, Republicans and Tea Party Patriots gather to hear politicians, presidential hopefuls, and business leaders speak, lobby and network for a conservative agenda, looking to Congressional gains in 2014 and a Republican president in 2016. REUTERS/Mike Theiler (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)

The annual gathering of conservatives is always interesting, bringing out the most conservative elements inside (and outside) the Republican Party, along with leading potential 2016 presidential candidates.

Below is a quick schedule of what you should watch for:

THURSDAY

9 a.m.: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) -- Perhaps the most anticipated speaker of CPAC starts things off.

11 a.m.: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) -- After being snubbed last year and not invited, a Christie who is struggling with Bridgegate is suddenly persona grata (is that a phrase?).

Noon: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) -- One of the biggest questions about this potential 2016 candidate is whether he can stir conservatives' emotions. CPAC is a good test of that.

12:15 p.m.: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) -- The Florida senator is resurgent after losing some conservatives with his comprehensive immigration reform push. We'll see how he's received and whether he mentions/defends that effort, which many in the crowd surely oppose.

2:45 p.m.: Donald Trump -- The Donald shouldn't be considered a potential presidential candidate, really. But his nascent status as a conservative hero says plenty about the movement he will address Thursday.

FRIDAY

9 a.m.: Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) -- The outgoing governor has clear designs on avenging his disastrous 2012 presidential bid in 2016.

10:23 a.m.: Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R) -- He has also made little secret of his potential presidential run. He struggles with some fiscal conservatives, but he's a favorite of social conservatives.

2:25 p.m.: Former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) -- The 2012 GOP presidential runner-up is, like Perry, eyeing another run, and for the most part, this is his crowd.

2:51 p.m.: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) -- The Fix's 2016 GOP front-runner takes the stage to share his unique platform for the GOP.

SATURDAY

1 p.m.: Ben Carson -- The former Johns Hopkins pediatric neurosurgeon was one of the biggest CPAC stars last year, and alluded to a potential 2016 presidential bid. He's had some stumbles since then, including comparing gay marriage to pedophilia. As a dark horse, though, he's worth keeping tabs on.

5:30 p.m.: CPAC Straw Poll -- This means less than many would like to think, but it's still interesting stuff and the trademark ending of the annual conference. Past winners include Ron Paul and Mitt Romney.

5:45 p.m.: Sarah Palin -- The former GOP vice presidential candidate has been known to bring props -- a Big Gulp, among them. She closes the 2014 conference this year.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix, the Post’s top political blog.
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