Mike Pence declined CPAC’s invitation to speak at this year’s conference

Former Vice President Mike Pence declined an invitation to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this week, CPAC Communications Director Ian Walters confirmed to this reporter Monday.

“We invited him and he did not take us up on the invitation,” Walters said, adding that this is the first time in 18 years that Pence will not speak at CPAC.

“I do know that he has been speaking at CPAC for a long time. My recollection is the first time was in 2003 when he was a House member,” Walters said.

“There’s a great deal of affection for him among grassroots conservative activists,” Walters added.

In an interview with USA Today, CPAC organizer Matt Schlapp expressed his regrets that Pence will not be in attendance.

“His conservative record is well respected, and conservatives want to hear his take on the current threats posed by socialism and this radicalized Democrat party,” Schlapp told USA Today, adding that it’s a “mistake” for Pence to not speak at the conference.

Pence has regularly spoken at the conference in previous years, however, a source told CNN that the former vice president is looking to stay under the radar for six months.

A Pence aide told Fox News Sunday that the former vice president has been intentionally keeping a low profile, focusing on family and his new charity partnerships.

The conference begins Thursday in Orlando, Fl, and it has has been labeled one of the year’s most important conservative political gatherings.

The conference will end Sunday, with former President Trump scheduled to give the closing remarks in his first public appearance since leaving the White House.

Sources familiar with the matter confirmed to The Hill that the former president will speak about the future of the Republican Party and the conservative movement. He is also expected to condemn President Biden’s immigration platform.

Fox News reported that Pence is still harboring “bitterness” toward Trump after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol building, according to members of Pence’s team.

However, Walters did not comment on if Pence’s decision to not attend the conference had anything to do with Trump’s attendance.

“That’s really more of a question for Pence’s side to answer. I’m not sure what their thinking is. I’m not directly in touch with anybody in his office so anything I would say would be speculative,” Walters said.

Follow Annaliese Levy on Twitter @AnnalieseLevy

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