Bloom’s solution to the party’s problem? Hold up conservatives who are both minorities and deeply conservative, and allow them to take the message into new communities.
“If we get three old, angry white guys – we’re done [in Virginia’s 2013 elections]," says Bloom, nodding ruefully over his shoulder to the main CPAC stage.
There, Virginia Attorney General-cum-GOP-gubernatorial contender Ken Cuccinelli had just finished a speech that could be well described as vintage “angry white guy.”
That’s the opposite view of Williams, a member of his local Republican committee in Trenton, N.J. He says CPAC’s shunning of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is a bad idea, citing another well-worn adage at conservative gatherings: President Ronald Reagan’s rule, as Williams puts it, holds that “If we agree with each other 80 percent of the time, you’re still my friend.”
Williams spent six years making a film, “Fear of a Black Republican,” about his party’s unwillingness to reach out to black voters. The results were not encouraging.
“Nobody wants to do it,” he says. Party mandarins “always say, ‘yeah, let’s do it, let’s do it,’ but … it’s about the money and resources. Our money and our resources have been going to the South, the Midwest, and the West. We give up on the coastal states.”
This debate between purity and openness at the grass roots echoes to the pinnacle of big-bucks political power.
Al Cardenas, chairman of The American Conservative Union, which puts on CPAC every year, came down on the side of the purists by withholding invitations from Governors Christie and McDonnell this year.
“Reagan rejected calls to broaden the base of our party … a political party cannot be all things to all people,” Mr. Cardenas said in his opening remarks.