CPAC – the Conservative Political Action Conference – runs at the beginning of every year – and it’s always an interesting event, to say the least.
It’s often attended by Republicans, right-wing commentators, prominent media personalities and other right-wing activists. The event began in 1974, but has really picked up steam in the last decade, even more so after Trump’s election. This year, it’s in - person at The Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Florida. Speakers include former U.S. President Donald Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and Sean Hannity
On that note here are the top 10 of the most outrageous things which have ever happened at CPAC.
1. Member of ‘Happy Science’ cult talks at CPAC 2021
Hiroaki “Jay” Aeba, a prominent Japanese conservative, will be speaking at CPAC 2021 – he first spoke at the event in 2011. Aeba is the chairman of the Japanese Conservative Union, a right-wing political organization, and he helped found CPAC Japan, which has been running for the last four years in Tokyo. Seems above board - but Aeba is also a prominent member of the ‘Happy Science’ cult, a Japanese cult who claims to be the incarnation of multiple gods.
2. Trump Jr makes #MeToo a CPAC joke, CPAC 2019
In 2019, Donald Trump Jr took part in a panel at CPAC, with other prominent right-wing commentators, including Charlie Kirk, who founded Turning Point, a right wing organisation catering to students and young people. Don Trump JR then suggested that Jerry Falwell Jr, one of the other panellists, should have been called “Trump,” (she was named Reagan). He then bizarrely said “hashtag me too,” which is almost unsurprising for Don Jr.
3. Diamond and Silk notice the last four letters of Democrats spells ‘rats,’ CPAC 2020
Who could forget Diamond and Silk, two entertainers or right-wing commentators (it’s unclear what exactly they do), who have been Trump stalwarts since Day One. They’re frequent guests on Fox News and InfoWars, and in 2020, they made a bizarre speech at CPAC where they pointed out that the last four letters of “Democrats” spelled “rats”, which is technically true but not really that noteworthy. They also pointed out that the last four letters of Republican spell out I can, which also just doesn’t feel that special.
4. Trump admits that he isn’t ‘concerned at all’ about Covid-19, CPAC 2020
5. Trump kisses a flagpole and mocks Greta Thunberg, CPAC 2020
In 2020, Trump kissed a flagpole and mocked Greta Thunberg during his speech, during which he also called prominent Republican senator Mitt Romney ‘ a low life’. He also complimented Joe Biden’s wife, while insulting now president Joe Biden, and then delved back into insulting the media. Pretty standard stuff for Trump, but it was still pretty bizarre to watch it altogether.
7. Ann Coulter upsets everyone, CPAC 2007 and 2008
Ann Coulter, the right-wing media personality, made several offensive remarks during her appearances at CPAC in 2008, but potentially one of the strangest was saying that “the best thing that had ever happened to the campaign of Barack ‘Hussein’ Obama was when he was born half black’. The year before, she also called another media personality a homophobic slur.
8. Republican governor says he would rather go Waterboarding than listen to 70 political speeches, CPAC 2013.
While CPAC has been running for several years, media coverage of the event really started to pick up after Trump was elected. But previous years also had their fair share of controversy – see Salon’s roundup of the most offensive remarks made on stage at CPAC 2013. The most outrageous of which might have come from Bobby Jindal, the former governor of Louisiana, who said that he would rather be waterboarded – a controversial and common torture technique - than listen to 70 political speeches at CPAC, an event that he had chosen to both go to and actively participate in.
9. Nigel Farage and Marion Marechal-Le-Pen appear, CPAC 2018
Nigel Farage of UKIP and Marion Marechal-Le-Pen both spoke at CPAC in 2018 – Marechal-Le-Pen warned attendees of the dangers of ‘transhumanism’, which is commonly used to refer to a movement of people who want to live forever with the aid of technology and science, but obviously wasn’t what Le Pen was referring to. Farage took the opportunity to attack George Soros and praised Viktor Orban, the far-right prime minister of Hungary, for ‘having the courage to stand up to him’.
10. Organisers booed for asking attendees to wear masks, CPAC 2021
On the first day of CPAC 2021, when organisers told conference-goers to wear masks – as they should at a primarily indoor event, they were booed off the stage. This is despite the fact that it is against the law to not wear a mask indoors in Florida at the moment, particularly in a gathering of the size of CPAC.