> on May 11, 2011 in Washington, DC.

Republican presidential hopefuls have a decidedly mixed history at the Conservative Political Action Conference — the annual event has been a springboard to better things for some, while badly damaging others’ aspirations and reputations.

This year’s event is likely to carry on that tradition.

The American Conservative Union’s annual confab, set for March 14-16, comes just as movement activists have begun looking for a path back from the presidential wilderness.

And when an expected 8,000 activists gather near Washington, D.C., they’ll be evaluating a number of potential candidates aiming to prove they’re the ones with the best map.

“It’s very much the crossroads of the modern Republican Party and the modern conservative movement,” said Americans for Tax Reform President and ACU board member Grover Norquist.