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At CPAC, conservatives eye candidates and dates

At the largest annual gathering of conservatives, many are looking for a future spouse.
From left, Jeff Ford, Erin Moore and Mary Foster of Ferris State University talk to each other while they wait for Donald Trump to speak at CPAC in National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 27, 2015. (Photo by Melissa Golden/Redux for MSNBC)
From left, Jeff Ford, Erin Moore and Mary Foster of Ferris State University talk to each other while they wait for Donald Trump to speak at CPAC in National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 27, 2015.

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — Most came to the conservative political gathering here to meet presidential hopefuls. But some younger attendees are also looking for a different kind of candidate.

“It’s a place where you can find a great candidate — for a husband,” said 19-year-old Erin Moore, a college student from Michigan’s Ferris State University.

Moore and her friends are in the Washington, D.C., area for the weekend, attending the Conservative Political Action Conference — a massive gathering of conservatives that is notable in part for drawing a lot of young people. The chance of meeting a potential spouse is a real pull, and Moore recalled meeting someone terrific on the first night. “When we were talking about views … I’d say, ‘I just think this way’ and he’d be like, ‘yeah, totally!’” she said. “We were compatible.”

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She is not the only one who feels that way. Members of the opposite sex share similar views. “If you are gonna go into politics, it’s a place to find a good wife, a first lady,” adds Jeff Ford, a friend of Moore’s from Ferris. “They’d support me and be active.”

To be sure, get enough young people — politically minded or not — in a room and the setting will likely be rife with romance and flush with furtive glances, but conservatives interviewed said they enjoyed the opportunity to meet like-minded people of the same age range.

Moore and her friends — Ford, 19, Mary Foster, 21, and Lauren Thomas, 19 — all say CPAC is an excellent environment to meet a date who might one day even become a lifelong spouse. Sitting in a small ballroom waiting for a meet and greet with Donald Trump, the friends shared stories of apathetic exes and political feuds with dates. 

Foster recalls a guy she’d been talking to, but didn’t date because of politics.

“He basically thought I was small-minded because I believed in God and didn’t see the same views as him,” she recalls. “Why would you want to continue on with someone if you don’t have the same views?”

Ford and Moore had both dated people who just weren't interested in politics.

“If you’re at CPAC, you care,” Moore says.

Foster said that she’s going into the medical field, but she would love to be married to a politician — making CPAC fertile dating territory.

“I honestly plan on marrying a guy that’s into politics or maybe even runs for something,” she said. “I plan on working in his campaigns … I really do wanna be a trophy wife, raise our family.”

Nearly a dozen other conservatives msnbc spoke with at an open-bar event on the first night of the conference agreed that the four-day confab presented a good dating pool.

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“Yeah, it’s all conservatives, none of those crazy liberals,” one University of South Carolina student told msnbc Thursday evening. He and two friends agreed they could foresee meeting a girl here.

“If you’re part of the conservative movement, you’re already here. You might hit it off,” said Summer Ratcliff.

Back at the Trump event, the girls are discussing whether they should use the dating app Tinder to find interested boys. “Maybe at parties, but a future husband would not be on Tinder,” Foster decides.

One friend, Jessica Wilhelm, 20, has a boyfriend back home — he’s an Independent so they don’t talk politics much. She’s been silent for most of the interview due to her relationship status, but even she can see the  possibilities. 

So, if she didn’t have a boyfriend?  

“Absolutely. I’d be wifed up in 20 minutes.”