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CPAC Convention Courts Young Conservative Women

(AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
CPAC Convention, Washington -- Sarah Palin isn't appearing at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington this week, but many young women in attendance still look up to her as much as they did when she first burst into the national spotlight.

Meagan Vance, a freshman political science major at Liberty University, said she admires the former Alaskan governor, whose positions on issues such as "sanctity of life, traditional marriage, traditional family values" are ones she respects.

Concerned "the female movement has gone on towards feminism and liberalism and really taken the wrong track," Vance said she's "hoping with Sarah Palin's inspiration and the Tea Party movement…can unite girls to pick a platform… and hopefully find more candidates like Sarah Palin and more inspiration."

Vance was among 150 people under 30 in an "XPAC" event headlined by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee's daughter Sarah and Republican strategist Andrea Tantaros. Approximately one in four in the audience were women.

XPAC, otherwise known as Xtreme Politically Active Conservatives -- is the young activist's parallel universe at CPAC and a project launched by radio host Kevin McCullough with actor Stephen Baldwin. Located in the basement of the convention complex, the XPAC lounge features music, games, snacks, Wii, and Wi-Fi.

Asked if she had experienced sexism in politics, Sarah Huckabee told the audience said she hadn't encountered much hardship working as a political operative out of the public eye, quipping that "women can do a lot more than any man…We're naturally born multi-taskers."

While some male politicians fret over whether to go negative for a debate against female opponent for fear she'll be too sensitive, Huckabee retorted, "I'll be really honest: Women in politics? They're not all that sensitive. They're some of the strongest fighters that are out there

Huckabee did note there were double standards for women in the public eye.

"You would never see a news report or a newscast on Barack Obama's suit or his tie choice, but by God, we saw a lot about the clothes that Sarah Palin wore, the pantsuits that Hillary Clinton wears," she said "It ought to be focused on the policies that they're bringing. I don't care about the clothes Hillary Clinton wears but I do care about the policies that she's putting forth."

Tantaros agreed, saying she couldn't understand when people would comment that "Hillary Clinton looks tired."

"Guess what? Barack Obama is looking pretty darn tired these days too but I don't see anyone analyzing his bags," she said.

While there women are still outnumbered by men in politics, Tantaros said the upside was this: "The playing field has never been as level as it is now."

"Women are a very important voting demographic," said Tantaros. "They tend to make a lot of the decisions in the household. They're raising the kids. They're actually becoming the caretakers for their parents. As their parents get older, they're making a lot of the healthcare choices as well. Now, more than ever, women are paying attention, particularly because of healthcare."

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