The annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) took place this week in Maryland, and brought with it a new Republican party that some conservatives appear to no longer recognize. Namely, when white supremacist and alt-right figurehead Richard Spencer showed up on Thursday, it was a sign of a changing party — or at least a wedge.
Spencer was promptly escorted from the hotel, and CPAC spokesperson Ian Walters said of the white nationalist, who was sucker-punched during President Donald Trump’s inauguration, “His views are repugnant and have absolutely nothing to do with conservatism or what we do here.”
But Trump’s White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon holds a top position in the federal government, and spoke at the conservative conference on Thursday. Bannon formerly headed Breitbart News and over the summer called it, “the platform for the alt-right.”
Conference heads had also previously invited former Breitbart senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos to speak, despite his alt-right fan base. His invite was rescinded on Monday after a video emerged of him praising pedophilia.
Even so, some CPAC conservatives still tried to distance themselves from the alt-right, a movement that “has been described as a mix of racism, white nationalism and populism,” according to the Associated Press. For instance, Thursday’s CPAC — the same day Bannon spoke — kicked off with a speech titled, ” The Alt Right Ain’t Right at All.”
American Conservative Union (ACU) executive director Drew Schneider, who gave the speech said, “There is a sinister organization that is trying to worm its way into our ranks and we must not be duped, we must not be deceived. This is serious business.” According to the Hill, Schneider made this statement just before Spencer was kicked out of the conference.
Meanwhile, Spencer spoke to reporters outside the event, telling them, “Dan Schneider has a small and closed mind. He didn’t even do basic research on what the alt-right is and he denounced it. That’s pretty pathetic.”