The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) kicked off its 40th anniversary gathering in Washington D.C. today with the theme "America's Future: The Next Generation of Conservatives"
The halls of the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center were teeming with college-age young conservatives bustling between the Potomac Ballroom to hear speakers like Marco Rubio and Rand Paul and workshops targeting young voters.
The exhibit halls feature groups like Young America's Foundation, Students for Liberty and Young Republicans offering internships and colleges with majors in politics. Meanwhile, workshops with titles like "The Future of the Movement: Winning with Generation X&Y" demonstrate the conservative new focus on the young voter.
When asked what he liked most about CPAC, former Representative Alan West replied "connecting with the youth, the next generation."
During his speech today, Senator Rand Paul stated "the GOP of old has grown stale and moss covered... the new GOP will have to embrace liberty in the economic and personal liberty spheres." Both of these comments illustrate a shift in the view of the Republican Party to focus on college aged voters who have traditionally been solidly behind Barack Obama.
There is a heavy Tea Party presence throughout the conference. With partners such as Tea Party Patriots, Teaparty.net and Tea Party Nation, there is little evidence supporting the liberal media's message that the Tea Party is dead here.
The speakers have the expected common theme of attacking Barack Obama's policies and record, and predictably, Obamacare, the deficit are top domestic policies and the attack in Benghazi and Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons top the list of the president's foreign blunders.
Texas Governor Rick Perry stressed federal overreach and control versus states' rights in his speech late in the afternoon to a packed house.
The messages change but the overall focus among the exhibitor, guests and speakers is there conviction that conservatism and the principles of smaller government will turn this country around.