The Conservative Political Action Conference kicked off in Washington Thursday, making it a pivotal week for conservatives and the future of the Republican party.
Some of the notable speakers include former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Sen. Ted Cruz, former Sen. Rick Santorum, Sen. Rand Paul, and former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Excluded from the list are Repubilcan Govs. Chris Christie and Bob McDonell.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., started on a high note, entering the stage with a standing ovation. He daringly addressed Democrats who've criticized him for opposing same-sex marriage and abortion rights.
"Just because I believe that states should have the right to define marriage in a traditional way does not make me a bigot," he said. His words were drowned out by cheers from the crowd as he talked about his belief in the protection of human life "at every stage of its development."
"The people who are actually closed-minded in American politics are the people who love to preach about the certainty of science with regards to our climate but ignore the absolute fact that science has proven that life begins at conception," he continued.
The annually CPAC enables voters to mingle with prominent conservative figures and groups. The conference will conclude with a straw poll for the next GOP presidential nominee.