DALLAS — T-shirts, hats, bags and banners at CPAC’s Dallas event had the same message: Fire Pelosi, Save America.
The Conservative Political Action Conference is expected to bring thousands of people to the Hilton Anatole, just north of downtown Dallas. It’s less a conference or convention and more of a rally for the conservative wing of the Republican party.
Turnout for Thursday, the event’s first day, was light, but those attending are some of the most energized and committed voters in the party. The exhibit hall was filled with booths for online media outlets and clothing showing messages in support of former president Donald Trump or against President Joe Biden and abortion.
The highlight, though, is the conservative talk show hosts and lawmakers speaking across the three days pushing talking points on immigration, religion, or the disproven idea the election was stolen.
Thursday’s lineup included former presidential candidate Ben Carson, Representative Jim Jordan, Fox News host Sean Hannity, and Texas leaders and lawmakers.
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Governor Greg Abbott both spoke Thursday with Abbott focusing on business and immigration.
“The national guard is patrolling the border and securing the border,” Abbott said. "They are returning across the border illegal immigrants who are trying to get into the state of Texas.”
Abbott made several attacks on his Democratic opponent for governor, Beto O’Rourke, but didn’t focus on some high-profile campaign issues like the Uvalde shooting and gun control or abortion, but he talked about Republican efforts to control classroom curriculums.
“You have the right to be the decision-maker for the health care and educational decisions for your child,” Abbott said.
Patrick asked conservatives to unite after primaries in order to elect Republicans in November.
“We must come together,” Patrick said. “We must do that in Texas. This election is not going to be an easy election.”
The most protested speaker and likely the most controversial was Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Orbán used roughly a half hour to call Democrats the enemy of Republicans. He made headlines recently for a speech that was strongly against immigration and in favor of racial purity. The loudest applause today came as he spoke against gay marriage.
“The mother is a woman, and the father is a man and leave our kids alone,” he said.
With the convention goal of energizing Republicans, he criticized news outlets and immigration and spoke on making religion more infused in politics and education.
“This war is a culture war,” he said. “We have to revitalize our churches, our families, our universities.”
Thursday ended with a speech from Sarah Palin. The next couple of days will be highlighted by Texas Senator Ted Cruz, election conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell, former Trump advisor Steve Bannon, and former President Donald Trump.