Romney to make appearance at crucial conservative conference

Posted at 2:59 PM, Feb 20, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-20 17:01:37-05
By Paul Steinhauser

CNN Political Editor

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Mitt Romney is returning to the political spotlight.

Two Republican sources confirm to CNN that the 2012 GOP presidential nominee will speak next month at the Conservative Political Action Conference. The event, known as CPAC, is one of the oldest and largest annual gatherings of conservative leaders and activists from across the country.

“This is an opportunity for him to express his appreciation to supporters and friends,” said a senior Romney aide.

After losing last November’s presidential election, the former Massachusetts governor and two-time White House candidate has remained mostly out of the range of cameras and reporters.

CPAC is considered a popular cattle call for Republicans considering bids for the White House. At last year’s conference, held during the GOP primaries as Romney was battling for the nomination, he called himself a “severely conservative Republican,” a comment that drew much attention, and criticism.

At least six Republicans who may be contemplating runs for the White House in 2016 will be speaking at CPAC: Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who was last year’s GOP vice presidential nominee, Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who as a 2012 Republican presidential candidate battled Romney deep into the primary calendar, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin.

CPAC, which turns 40 this year, will be held for the first time at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center just outside Washington, in Prince George’s County, Maryland. For years the conference was held at the Marriott Wardman Park hotel in the nation’s capital. CPAC will be held March 14-16.

National Review was first to report word of Romney’s speaking role at CPAC.

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