'Fine with it': CPAC goers attribute lack of attendance to 'lengthy booze lines' and 'fatigue' from midterms
The level of attendance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this year was noticeably "low", Rolling Stone reports.
This comes as CPAC founder Matt Schlapp currently faces a lawsuit for allegations of sexual assault from a former male staffer, and more recently, accusations of fostering a "'toxic' culture," which led to "an 'exodus' of staffers."
Per Rolling Stone, CPAC vice chairman Steven J. Allen, who has faithfully attended the conference for decades, thinks "'fatigue' from the 2022 midterms," and "the proliferation of CPAC events in other states like Florida" could be the reason behind the lack of seat fillers.
"I'm fine with it, at least for me personally," Allen said. "I don’t see enough of a difference to be concerned at all."
READ MORE: Embattled CPAC founder Schlapp faces new accusations as staffer exodus accelerates
Rolling Stone reports:
Some high-profile conservative leaders like Mitch McConnell have shunned CPAC for years. But Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Trump's foremost competitor for the Republican nomination in 2024, is conspicuously absent. Fellow candidates Nikki Haley and Mike Pompeo spoke on Friday to a half-empty chamber, raising the alarming prospect Trump's own speech on Saturday might not be an overflow crowd.
Former Vice President Mike Pence — who recently said he's continuing to "pray" about whether he'll run for president in 2024 — also skipped the conference this year, according to NBC.
Per Rolling Stone, Sany Dash, "who manned the booth at the USA Trump Store, where rhinestone-covered purses shaped like guns and flags go for $200 to $500," complained attendance “not as the best as it has been in the past." She emphasized, "Definitely nowhere close to that.”
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Dash continued, "I love the fact that we’re supporting CPAC but unfortunately the attendance is just not there this year."
Michael Mikulewich, an attendee, believes low turnout could be the result of "the weather" in Maryland, "lengthy booze lines, and unwelcoming locals."
With the conference location in mind, the Florida and New York native also asserted conservatives likely don't want to "support Democratic states and cities."
Mikulewich said, "Texas, beautiful. Orlando was beautiful. Here, it's raining and depressing. There's one bartender but 350 people. So if that doesn’t give you a message as to what Washington is telling you, D.C. is telling you, then that's it for the story."
READ MORE: Watch: Matt Schlapp whisked away at CPAC from reporter asking about groping allegations
Rolling Stone's full report is available at this link (subscription required). NBC's report is here.
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