CPAC’s pariahs feel welcome, so far

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) previously kept gay conservative group GOProud, the John Birch Society and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson’s Our America out of its annual conference, but not this year. And representatives from the groups tell The Daily Caller they’re doing just fine so far.

Gay conservative group GOProud’s participation in CPAC led socially conservative South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, the Family Research Council, the Media Research Center and other organizations to boycott this year’s event. But GOProud chairman Chris Barron said CPAC is “phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal” so far.

“The reception we’ve gotten has been overwhelmingly positive,” Barron told TheDC. “As you can see, people keep coming up to the booth and saying how happy they are that there is a truly conservative voice for gay people.”

The John Birch Society, on the other hand, was driven out of mainstream conservatism years ago for having what some considered to be views outside the mainstream, including the belief that President Dwight D. Eisenhower was a “dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy.”

John Birch Society President John McManus told TheDC that he feels welcome so far at the conference, but the folks at GOProud are getting more attention than his group in the circle of conservative pariahs. McManus, who republished his book “William F. Buckley, Jr.: Pied Piper for the Establishment” in paperback to sell at CPAC this weekend, said “there’s definitely people who don’t want us here, but too bad for them.”

Johnson’s group Our America got a booth at the event just yesterday. His organization supports marijuana legalization, gay rights and bringing all American troops home now.

“I believe we should be out of Iraq and Afghanistan tomorrow,” Johnson said. “I would be calling for a balanced budget tomorrow and that would mean a $1.5 trillion in spending cuts. So, when you start talking about cutting government by that amount of money, the discussion needs to start with Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and defense.”