A year makes quite a difference. During the run-up to 2016′s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), many activists on the right urged the American Conservative Union, which organizes the annual event, to rescind its invitation to Donald Trump. Allowing Trump to speak “will do lasting and huge (yuge!) damage to the reputations of CPAC, ACU, individual ACU board members, the conservative movement, and indeed the GOP and America,” warned Republican strategist Liz Mair, who worked with the anti-Trump political action committee Make America Awesome. The candidate ultimately cancelled his long planned speech, pointing to campaign events in Kansas and Florida as an excuse. There’s a good chance he also wanted to avoid answering questions after his talk, not to mention the embarrassment of having hundreds of conservative activists stage a walkout.
Winning a presidential election certainly changes things. “By tomorrow this will be TPAC,” Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway quipped yesterday. Trump was enthusiastically applauded at CPAC this morning .