Its full title is the Conservative Political Action Conference, but politics junkies just call it CPAC. The annual gathering attracts elected officials, activists and the rank-and-file from around the country for panel discussions, general schmoozing and fiery speeches.
Watch out, though. if you’re not conservative enough, you might not get an invite. This year, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey was left off the invitation list. Al Cardenas, a Floridian and chairman of the American Conservative Union, said it was because Christie pushed for a pork-filled federal aid package after Hurricane Sandy hit his state.
Floridians don’t seem to have to worry about invites, though. Just check the lineup and you’ll see the Sunshine State connections.
Marco Rubio, widely considered one of the Republican Party’s rising stars and a potential presidential candidate, addressed the crowd on Thursday, touching on the need for better preparing students for the workforce and fending off a Chinese government that wants to be the world's foremost superpower. We fact-checked two of the claims in his speech.
The first: "There are 3 million jobs available in America that are not filled because too many of our people don’t have the skills for those jobs."
Rubio is basically right about the number of available jobs in the country, but there's no data to prove his contention that the 3 million jobs in question are all open because of a mismatch in job skills. In fact, we found a heap of evidence to contradict it. We rated this claim Half True.
The second: "The Chinese government provides their people no access to the Internet."
Rubio overstated the Internet problem in China. Chinese Internet users outnumber the rest of the world by a long shot, so there is clearly access. However, the government blocks access to popular Western websites and often prevents users from reading information it does not want getting out. We rated his claim Mostly False on balance.
Former Florida congressmen Allen West of Palm Beach and Connie Mack of Cape Coral also spoke Thursday. West lost his seat to Democrat Patrick Murphy in November but remains popular with the grassroots right for his hard-charging rhetoric. Mack challenged U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and lost.
Jeb Bush, 7:30 p.m. Bush, Florida’s former governor, recently released a book on immigration, called Immigration Wars. PolitiFact looked at Bush’s positions on immigration in a recent fact-check and found that he’s had different takes over the years.
Will Weatherford, 12:30 p.m. Weatherford is the speaker of the Florida House. He’s scheduled to appear on a panel of up-and-coming conservatives. PolitiFact Florida fact-checked Weatherford’s recent comment on the Florida pension system. He said the Legislature needs to spend $500 million to "shore up" the pension fund this year and the next 28 years to keep it "afloat." We rated that Half True.
See individual fact-checks for complete sources.