It’s official: Marco Rubio is The Next Big Thing for conservatives. Earlier today, Lisa De Pasquale, the director of the Conservative Political Action Conference, announced that Rubio will be the keynote speaker for next year’s CPAC conference.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of a CPAC appearance for a conservative politician. The annual conference of young conservatives draws thousands of right-wing activists and media outlets, offering the keynote speaker a national platform to address the future of the Republican party’s conservative base. The conference will kick off early next year.Rubio’s star has been on the rise for months now as he closed the polling gap with Gov. Charlie Crist in the GOP primary race for the U.S. senate nomination in Florida. He gained even more notoriety after NY-23, when the establishment GOP which had backed Crist early on, changed its tune in the wake of what conservatives saw as an electoral triumph in upstate New York.
Just a few months ago, Rubio was way down in the fundraising race and trailing Crist by huge numbers in polls. Back then, conservative groups like the Club For Growth backed away from Rubio, afraid of wasting money on a lost cause. Those days appear to be officially over. With the CPAC announcement, Rubio just became one of the most prominent conservatives in the country.
Late Update: The Rubio campaign, not surprisingly, is elated by today’s announcement.
“Marco Rubio is honored by the invitation,” campaign spokesperson Alex Burgos said. “[He] looks forward to sharing his vision of why mainstream conservative Republicans are needed in Washington more than ever.”