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Although the so-called “moderate” right wishes to distance itself from the far right, the list of speakers at the CPAC conference shows they have more in common than not.
Some far right big names were excluded from the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday, with Milo Yiannopoulos disinvited and Richard Spencer kicked out by staffers.
Yiannopoulos, famous for drawing fury for his controversial views, was disowned by much of his followers over the weekend when a video of him defending pedophilia surfaced on the internet.
While Spencer was among those who drew a line with Yiannopoulos’ latest comments — others have also been criticized for defending varying forms of racism, white nationalism and misogyny, among other forms of bigotry — his credentials were also revoked, even though he bought a ticket, for being a founder and prominent voice of the far-right movement.
Matt Schlapp, leader of the American Conservative Union or ACU, told NBC that Spencer’s views were “repugnant” and that, “there are boundaries, one of those boundaries is having respect for people, people’s heritage, people’s race, and the alt-right is not a voice in the conservative movement.”
Spencer fired back, calling the ACU “children” and “pathetic” and threatening that, “CPAC cannot host a speech where they denounce the alt-right by name and then expect me not to come.”
Although the so-called “moderate” right wishes to distance itself from the far right — the self-proclaimed, “alt-right” — the list of speakers at the CPAC conference, once a fringe event, but now decidedly in the Republican mainstream, shows they have more in common than not.
So far, the main speakers have been Steve Bannon and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, who told Republicans, “We want you to have our back” in upcoming battles, denouncing media criticism of President Donald Trump.
Bannon is a former head of Breitbart, which has a following among the far right and which Bannon has called a platform for that movement. Some Breitbart staffers were also scheduled to participate in CPAC panel discussions.
Schlapp credited Trump with naming the most conservative Cabinet in a half-century and nominating a Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch, who has the right-wing’s blessings.
Bannon warned that Republicans should get prepared to defend the president in the days ahead.
“If you think they’re going to give you your country back without a fight you are sadly mistaken,” said Bannon. “It’s going to get worse every day” as Trump presses forward with his 2016 campaign promises.