American Conservative Union Chairman Al Cardenas defended giving a speaking slot at the organization's 2013 CPAC conference to Donald Trump while snubbing Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
In response to questioning from Media Matters' Joe Strupp at a press conference, Cardenas said that despite Trump's history of racially inflammatory remarks and ongoing promotion of conspiracy theories about President Obama's birthplace, Trump had been invited to speak because "we can't have thirty people saying the same thing with the same backgrounds."
Cardenas praised Trump as "a billionaire who creates jobs" and is "not afraid to talk about the failures of the Obama administration." He said that Trump, who has spoken previously at CPAC, is "a persuasive speaker" who was brought "back by public demand" and that "the crowd here loves him."
In his comments before CPAC, Trump said that "we're run by either very foolish or very stupid people" and that he is "continually criticized by total lightweights all over the place." Trump also said he believed that the U.S. should go back into Iraq and confiscate the country's oil in order to pay for the Iraq War.
Cardenas also defended the conference's snub of New Jersey governor Chris Christie, indicating that the conference focuses more on "national matters than anything else" and that other governors had a "more excellent conservative record" worth highlighting.
He compared the CPAC speaker selection process to Harvard University admissions, noting that "they get ten thousand plus applications, they accept one thousand. Harvard doesn't tell you why they didn't select the other nine thousand" and that CPAC operates on "the same principle" due to the limited number of speaking slots.
Cardenas opened the door to a future Christie invitation: "if his record in the future merits it, we'll welcome him with open arms."