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Conservatives Defend White Nationalists At Annual Conference

Romney surrogate says "it's silly" to criticize his being on a panel with Vandervoort. Chairman of American Conservative Union doesn't renounce Brimelow.

Posted on February 11, 2012, at 12:43 p.m. ET

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Washington, D.C. -- The chairman of the American Conservative Union, the host of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, avoided criticizing the inclusion of white nationalist writer Peter Brimelow at CPAC at a press conference today.

"I never heard that fellow’s name until the press wrote it up," Al Cardenas told reporters today.

"The ACU stands behind speakers we invite to speak at our functions," Cardenas said. "This fellow was not invited to participate in any of the events that ACU takes responsibility for."

Cardenas, who was born in Cuba, said that "I'm pretty proud of my heritage and who I am. As chairman of the ACU this is kind of my party, and why would I invite anyone to my party who doesn’t like me? I’ve learned over the years to not take one reporter’s comments as gospel."

Earlier, Kansas secretary of state and Romney surrogate Kris Kobach told BuzzFeed after an immigration panel that he appeared on with another figure associated with the white nationalist movement, Bob Vandervoort, that "I don't know what all of Bob's views are, I just met him this morning." Vandervoort is the executive director of ProEnglish and had been a supporter of Jared Taylor's "race realist" publication American Renaissance, classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

On its website, American Renaissance endorses ideas like "One of the

most destructive myths of modern times is that people of all races

have the same average intelligence" and "One of the most obvious

consequences of an increase in the black population is an increase in


"I think it's silly for anyone to suggest that because a third party puts four people on a panel, that they all have the same views," Kobach said.

"If an organization like CPAC, which is a credible organization, asks me to be on a panel and it fits into my schedule I'll do it," Kobach said.

Kobach serves as an immigration adviser and occasional surrogate for Mitt Romney's campaign.

Florida Congressman David Rivera also appeared on the panel. His staff didn't respond to a request for comment.