American Conservative Union chairman Al Cardenas spoke briefly with reporters ahead of the beginning of the CPAC conference -- explaining why he didn't invite New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and insisting that the GOP is "not a home for everybody."
As the conference opens, the GOP's identity crisis -- expand the tent, or try to convince more people to crowd under what's already built -- is on sharp display.
"I'm a firm believer that if the Republican Party's going to have success, it's going to do so by being a conservative party and not a home for ah, for everybody," Cardenas said. "And that's how you grow. I mean, look, you grow your tent by convincing others, and persuading others, that yours is the way, and you build your tent by reaching out to the new demographics of America not with a watered down version of who we ought to be but with a true, real, solid version of who we are."
Cardenas also repeated explanations for why the conference hadn't invited New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to speak at the event.
"This year, for better or for worse, we felt like, ah, like he didn't deserve to be on the all-star selection, ah, and, for decisions that he made. And so hopefully next year he's back on the right track and being a conservative," Cardenas said. "He's a popular figure, but everyone needs to live by the parameters of the movement."
Also not invited was Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who recently signed a transportation bill that included new taxes.
Cardenas approached McDonnell differently, however, saying the conference only had room for one Virginian -- attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, who's running for governor. Cardenas called him the "future" of the GOP in Virginia.