DANA PERINO (HOST): The annual CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) conference getting under way in Maryland today. President Trump among many conservatives who will take the stage over the next four days. We now bring in the organizer of the conference, Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union. It's great to have you here. Matt, I don't think of you as a very controversial guy, but every year CPAC seems to draw some controversy. Last night there was this question about whether Dinesh D'Souza would be speaking because of a picture in the program. He tweeted last night about the students reacting to the assault weapons ban, “worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs.” He then apologized later on, saying, “while it aimed at media manipulation, my tweet was insensitive to students who lost friends in a terrible tragedy. I'm truly sorry.” Just to clarify, he is not speaking today?
MATT SCHLAPP (CHAIRMAN OF AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION): No. And he was never gonna be part of the program. So this is one of these unfortunate things that happens on social media, Dana, where it just gets going. And sometimes it's our enemies that are trying to pick at us, pick at the flaws and they run with it. But it's surprising to us because we see these things, and Dinesh D'Souza wasn't ever on the agenda this year. By the way, I'm glad he apologized because I can't imagine he meant that with that tweet. And as you always say, you'll never get in trouble for the tweet you did not send.
PERINO: That's right, that's a book I want to write, tweets I never sent. Wayne LaPierre, the head of the NRA, is he going to be speaking today? On a day where these students are having the rallies and the press conference that they have in Florida, really demanding that lawmakers finally do something. We don't know what that something would be on gun control.
SCHLAPP: Yeah. Look, I know that this is a tough, and raw, and emotional moment. Especially for these victims, their families. And I think, but it would be a mistake for CPAC to back away from having the appropriate conversations around the Second Amendment, violence in society, and what's happening in our communities. I mean, there's a real problem out there in America and we need to talk about it. I think it's a big mistake to step away from the topics that are causing us trouble in society. We need to step into them, we need to try to resolve them. Wayne LaPierre will be speaking. He's my friend. He's a leader in this area and I'm glad he's going to be here.
PERINO: I wanted to ask you what you think the mission of CPAC is today and has it changed at all since President Trump was elected president? The other controversy was about Marion Le Pen coming to speak. She is from the --
PERINO: -- I guess whether she's part of her grandfather's party or not. But it almost seems like Americans' conservatism is on this march to match up with far-right politics of Europe. And CPAC has always been, I guess some people think it's a place for a lot of diversity of thought. I just wonder what you think about the controversy surrounding this idea. I think it's meant to be your thing. This is the American Conservative Union. It doesn't have to be all things to all conservatives.
SCHLAPP: That's right. But you know me, and people who see me on your show. I'm a conservative. I'm not a far-right person. I'm not somebody who's anti-immigrant. I'm not someone who denies the Holocaust. And I think what's interesting is people are trying to attack this young woman, Marion Le Pen, whose grandfather was an infamous political figure in France and who had some abhorrent positions. She's her own person. She's a young person. She has broken with her family on those positions and she is a new voice in France. And by the way, she's a voice that resembles a lot of conservative voices here. She's for traditional marriage. She's pro-life. She doesn't believe that the welfare state solves problems. And yes, she wants to make sure when people come immigrate into France, that they want to be French and they want to love the country. These are themes that we can understand in this country. But I think you're right. Look, we're gonna give her a chance to address our attendees and the people who watch online and on television. And I believe in letting people speak and give their point of view. I think we will all be enriched and I think a lot of people are gonna to take back their attacks when they hear, after they hear her talk.