- Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann (Photo: Associated Press)
The 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference has received plenty of ink for its courting of an unexpected demographic: Gay Republican organization GOProud will co-sponsor CPAC for the first time this year. Meanwhile, women are now so firmly entrenched in the CPAC machine that it's only news when they don't show up.
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann kicked off the 38th annual showcase of right-wing America with a speech that focused primarily on fiscal policy but also delivered a shout-out to "the future American laborers that aren't even born." This weekend, CPAC attendees will hear speeches from South Dakota Rep. Kristi Noem, Eagle Forum leader Phyllis Schlafly, conservative columnist S.E. Cupp, and Michelle Duggar, the TLC matriarch who's birthed 19 ("and counting") kids. Entertainers include conservative comic Victoria Jackson, Tea Party country performer Lisa Mei, and Native American singer Sherry Marquelle. All-female panelists will discuss "The awakening of the conservative woman" and "The pro-life movement: Plans and goals." With Sarah Palin's conspicuous absence this year, conservatism's rising female stars will get the opportunity to capture the party's attention. The conference will end with a panel called "Changing the conversation: Winning with minorities, women, and independents."
I'll be submitting dispatches on gender and sexuality issues of CPAC all weekend. Follow my tweets here, or via this handy widget, below: