Huckabee: CPAC’s No Big Deal (VIDEO)

Lauren Victoria Burke

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee — who finished tied for sixth place with just 4 percent of the vote in the Conservative Political Action Conference’s presidential straw poll over the weekend — slammed CPAC on Fox News afterward.

The conference, he said, “has become increasingly more Libertarian and less Republican.”Huckabee also tried to downplay CPAC’s relevance.

Where CPAC was historically the event, the tea parties now are having their own events all over the country and a lot more truly grassroots people are getting involved because of the tea parties.

And is CPAC corrupt? Huckabee didn’t quite go that far, but…

Because of the way that it solicits sponsors, it’s almost becomes a pay-for-play. It’s kind of like, who will pay money to be able to be a sponsor and to get time on the program. That’s one of the things that has hurt its credibility in the last couple of years.

Here’s the video:

Late Update: American Conservative Union chairman David Keene responds in a statement provided to CNN:

I can only assume that the Governor has been misinformed as to how CPAC operates. Our cosponsors meet several times before each conference to suggest topics and speakers who they believe should be invited. Many of those invited are from groups that are neither co-sponsors nor financial supporters of the conference itself. This year, for example, groups that provided speakers without having to “pay to play” included among others Fox, the American Enterprise Institute, The Club for Growth, The Tea Party Patriots, Students for Life and dozens of others.

The Governor himself has spoken at several CPAC conferences in the past and we worked with him to see if we could get him to CPAC 2010. We offered him several time slots, but on December 18th received an email from his scheduler saying essentially what the Governor’s daughter told reporters over the weekend. The email from Kristin Dulin, the Governor’s Director of Scheduling, said that he wouldn’t be able to join us because he would have to be in New York to do his show, but assured us that he “appreciates the invitation and hopes that you have a wonderful event.”

We did! CPAC 2010 drew more than 10,000 conservative activists from around the country representing every part of the movement and including more than 5,000 college students. The Governor’s daughter Sarah, who introduced her dad at last year’s conference, was part of the record-breaking crowd this year. Sarah participated in XPAC, the student lounge at CPAC sponsored by Xtreme Media (radio hosts Kevin McCullough and Stephen Baldwin). Organizers said she did a great job and the CPAC students loved her.

We hope next year she’ll be back and bring her dad!