Donald Trump isn't at CPAC this year. He is CPAC.
The GOP front-runner may have dropped out of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, but in many ways the convention foreshadowed the rise of Trump — or someone similar — more than anyone realized until now, NBC News reported.
The billionaire is not popular personally with the crowd here. The audience is disproportionately young and libertarian — Trump was booed last year after proposing to fight ISIS with ground forces — and many attendees this year said they plan to vote third party if he is nominated.
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In retrospect, though, the convention hosted by the American Conservative Union (ACU) has been a canary in the coal mine for weaknesses in conservatism that are now tearing the movement apart amid Trump's impending candidacy.
Consider one of its most infamous moments. In 2007, Mitt Romney fired up the crowd for upcoming speaker Ann Coulter, who then used her speech to call Democratic Sen. John Edwards a "f—got."