03/08/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Rush Limbaugh Speaking At CPAC 2009

Rush Limbaugh will be the closing speaker at the major Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) gathering later this month, according to a message distributed to CPAC supporters, further bringing the brash conservative radio host into the forefront of Republican leadership.

A Mecca of sorts for conservatives, CPAC is a forum for political aspirants and activists to make their case to the party faithful. It was during their convention in 2008 that Mitt Romney formally dropped out of the Republican presidential primary to endorse John McCain -- who in turn received a tepid welcome from attendees.

That Limbaugh would keynote the affair is a telling indication of just how lacking the GOP is for actual elected leadership. The radio host has never been one to claim he is an insider or party leader. But Republican officials often treat him as such, following his lead politically and going out their way to reiterate their respect for him and his audience. But Rush's propensity for the controversial makes him a potentially toxic figure for any prime-time role, as public opinion polls show.

The equally provocative and acidic Ann Coulter was not given an official speaking role last year over concerns about what she might say.