WASHINGTON--The American Conservative Union kicks off a three day conference on Thursday here, with the future of the conservative movement a major part of the conversation. Mitt Romney surfaces to deliver a keynote to the group. Much noted who was not invited: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. For schedules, speakers, click HERE.
From ABC's Rick Klein on CPAC: "There they will all be (mostly) in one place, several generations lost about the next race. Perhaps the only thing attendees at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference can agree on is the "conservative" label. Beyond that, question about who's not there (Chris Christie, Bob McDonnell, GOP gay-rights groups) are competing with questions about who is (lots of future stars, sure, though nobody figures to get more coverage than Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin). Attention and talk will turn to 2016, including the straw poll winner who almost certainly won't be the party nominee. But of more immediate concern to the gathered conservative flock is how attendees interact with their allies on Capitol Hill. The red meat is set to be served at the first time in the Obama presidency that Republicans are breaking bread with the president. The message coming from CPAC is highly unlikely to involve bargains with President Obama, grand or otherwise.
More from ABC's Political Unit: "CPAC PRIMER: Today marks the start of a three-day gathering of conservative leaders and activists from around the country. The Conservative Political Action Conference - CPAC, for short - is organized by the American Conservative Union and has become an annual focal point bringing together establishment figures, new leaders, grassroots types and, in particular, the younger generation of conservatives. It kicks off this morning at the Gaylord National Hotel in National Harbor, Md. just outside Washington, DC.
More from ABC's Political Unit: WHO'S GOING: A whole lot of big-name speakers like Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Paul Ryan Rand Paul and many more. Numerous other lawmakers from Capitol Hill will also address the gathering and attendees will also have a chance to hear from a host of unelected officials who have a prominent role on policy and other matters within the conservative orbit: the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre, American Crossroads head Steven Law, American Conservative Union chairman Al Cardenas, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist and Heritage Foundation president and former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint.