Posted Friday, Jan. 21, 2011, at 4:33 PM
Ben Smith asks Jim DeMint's office if the senator will speak at CPAC; he gets a no. And DeMint becomes the highest-profile conservative who won't speak at the conference after months of carping from social conservative groups, critical of the role the gay Republican group GOProud has attained there.
The "CPAC boycott" hasn't actually dissuaded many top conservatives from the conference. Among the star elected officials or 2012 hopefuls attending this year are Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, Newt Gingrich, Mitch McConnell, Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Rick Santorum, and John Thune. But I noticed that Mike Pence had yet to confirm his speech, and asked his spokesman Matt Lloyd whether he would attend.
"He is invited but not confirmed," said Lloyd. No confirmation yet.
UPDATE: Worth noting: DeMint has worked with Cleta Mitchell , the Republican lawyer who's one of the drivers of the boycott.
DeMint's move is a win for social conservatives, but maybe it shouldn't be a surprise. He's taken one of the hardest lines of any leading Republican against the idea that the GOP has come back as more of a libertarian force than a social conservative one. Here's how he put it at the 2010 Values Voter Summit, the confference becoming sort of a socialcon answer to CPAC.