Cuccinelli to open CPAC conference

March 5, 2013

RICHMOND — Virginia gubernatorial hopeful Ken Cuccinelli II is scheduled to be the opening speaker at the annual CPAC conference next week, as the man he hopes to replace was not invited this year.

The conservative attorney general, who has grabbed headlines and drawn support for challenging the federal health care law, climate change and pushing for tougher laws for abortion clinics, is among nearly 40 people listed on the Conservative Political Action Conference Web site as featured speakers.

Cuccinelli is set to speak at 9 a.m. on the first day of the three-day conference that begins on March 14 in Washington.

Left off the list is outgoing Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, who spoke at CPAC last year. McDonnell spokesman Jeff Caldwell confirmed that the governor was not invited to be a speaker at the conference this year, but will be the keynote speaker at the Faith and Freedom Coalition Prayer Breakfast — being held in coordination with CPAC — on March 15.

Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at CPAC. The conference, an annual gathering of some high-profile conservatives in the country, is being held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor.

Other speakers include 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), House Budget Committee Chairman and 2012 GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, former governors Jeb Bush of Florida and Sarah Palin of Alaska, and National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.

N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, who is up for reelection in November, is not part of this year’s list of invitees.

This year’s conference theme is “America’s Future: The Next Generation of Conservatives.”

March 14 could be a busy day in Virginia politics: It is also the day Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling is set to announce whether he will return to the state’s gubernatorial contest as an independent candidate.

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