A secretive group that serves as the umbrella operation for leaders and activists within the conservative movement will host two meetings in the coming months, National Journal has learned, the first to vet Republican presidential candidates and the second to discuss coalescing behind one of them.
The Council for National Policy, a shadowy organization of several hundred dues-paying members, typically meets three times a year in various locations around the country. But with the 2016 cycle accelerating, and many conservative leaders intent on rallying behind a single candidate, CNP's leadership is taking extraordinary measures—scheduling two top-priority meetings outside of Washington—and inviting a large number of nonmembers to both.
The group will host a two-day summit on May 15 and 16 at the Ritz-Carlton in Tyson's Corner, Virginia. The format will be simple: Candidates will have an hour on stage to address the room and answer questions, followed by 30 minutes of meet-and-greet with guests. Organizers say they've begun sending invitations to all of the major Republican candidates—"even Chris Christie," one said—and several candidates have already committed to the event.
This sequence of events will be the manifestation of a year's worth of private meetings around the country, as first detailed by National Journal last October, in which leaders from the faith and tea-party communities have agreed on the importance of rallying their followers behind a single conservative candidate who might stand a chance of defeating the "establishment" favorite in the GOP primary.