Today marks day two of the latest installment of the annual right wing confab, also known as the Conservative Political Action Conference. Friday morning’s CPAC lineup of speakers includes republican rock stars (Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI), up-and-comers (Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH), established party leaders (Sen. Mitch McConnell R-KY), enemies of the left (NRA VP Wayne LaPierre) and the downright entertaining (Donald Trump). But Thursday’s CPAC kick-off featured perhaps the most important figures when it comes to the GOP’s future: Senators Marco Rubio and Rand Paul. The two lawmakers present a contrast not only of style, but of substance, and represent different visions for the direction of the conservative movement. They’re also on the party’s shortlist of potential 2016 front-runners. Senator Rubio did his best to focus on a message near and dear to the conference’s base, but the Cuban-American avoided discussing the key issue of immigration. Senator Paul, who stole a news cycle last week for his filibuster on the White House’s drone program, hit back at some of the critics of his 12-hour marathon, saying some elements of the GOP are “stale and moss-covered.” Some are arguing that Paul stole Rubio’s thunder by presenting a more youthful, libertarian and anti-defense message, but the real takeaway may be that both Senators exemplify the the future of the party. One thing that this year’s CPAC is not is a platform for moderate or establishment figures. Much has been made of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s CPAC snub, but another republican heavyweight and potential presidential frontrunner, Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was left off the CPAC straw poll ballot. So is CPAC an early indicator of where the conservative movement is going as we head toward 2014 and 2016? And is its symbol a Rubio or a Paul? The answers may just be a little ‘yes,’ a little ‘no’ and a little of both. We’ll discuss that and more when we see you at noon ET on msnbc.
Jonathan Capehart, The Washington Post/msnbc Contributor (@capehartj)
Frank Foer, Editor, The New Republic (@franklinfoer)
Carrie Budoff Brown, White House Reporter, Politico (@cbudoffbrown)
Ben Smith, Editor-in-Chief, BuzzFeed (@buzzfeedben)
Michael Steele, Fmr. RNC Chairman/msnbc Political Analyst (@steele_michael) [DC NC]
Scott Prouty, 47% Videographer [3A]