CPAC 2013 - Why It Matters, Who's Going, What We Will Learn From It

MITT'S MOMENT: Mitt Romney has chosen this year's conference as the venue for his first major speech since losing the 2012 election. He offered a preview of his post-election thoughts during a recent interview on Fox News Sunday, but his remarks to the gathering (scheduled for 1 p.m. ET on Friday) will be his chance to set a tone for his future role within the Republican Party. We'll be watching to see whether he focuses on lessons learned from 2012, what he would be doing differently if he were in the White House, his vision for the future or all of the above. Recall that in his March 3 Fox interview, he said: "As the guy who lost the election, I'm not in a position to tell everyone else how to win," but added: "I'm not going to disappear." Notably, CPAC is something of a fraught venue for Romney. It was at the same conference in 2008 that he dropped out of that year's Republican presidential primary. And last year it was at CPAC where he declared himself "a severely conservative Republican governor" -- a comment that did not win him much praise on the right.

WHO IS THE KEYNOTE SPEAKER?: Freshman Sen. Ted Cruz, who will be the last major speaker at the conference before it wraps up on Saturday night. Just a few months since arriving in Washington, Cruz, of Texas, has already established himself as a hard-charging, outspoken and controversial figure on Capitol Hill. He made waves in his questioning of Chuck Hagel during his confirmation hearings and some knowledgeable Texas Republicans say Cruz has privately told associates that he is thinking about a 2016 presidential bid. Cruz is scheduled to speak at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday.

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