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The annual Conservative Political Action Conference launched today in Washington DC. I’ll be heading up to the Marriot Wardman in Woodley Park shortly to check out some of the afternoon festivities. But I caught Marco Rubio – probably the most anticipated speaker of the three-day event — on C-SPAN this morning.

The former speaker of the Florida House was introduced by Senator Jim DeMint, a man, Rubio said, who believed in him when “pretty much no one outside of my own house did.” DeMint in his introduction said his faith has been more than justified: Rubio now leads Florida Gov. Charlie Christ by 10 points in the primary race for Republican Mel Martinez’s old Senate seat.

Rubio made it clear to his adoring audience that he believed his surge was not sui generis. “From Tea Parties to the election in Massachusetts we are witnessing the single greatest push back in American history,” he said. “Never has the political class, or the main stream media that covers them, been so out of touch with the American people… 2010 is a referendum on the very identity of our nation.”

Rubio took selected digs at President Obama (for, what else, his teleprompter habit), Arlen Specter and moderates in general (“after all America doesn’t need another Democratic Party, it already has two”) and the Democratic agenda on the whole. “They used this severe recession to implement the status policies that they have longed for for a long time,” Rubio said. “They don’t want to fix America but to change America. They want to fundamentally change the role of America in our lives and the role of America in the world. But the good news is it didn’t take the American people long to figure this out. And now as we near the midterm elections they are seeking out candidates” who can stop the Democratic agenda.

Rubio said he wants to work across the aisle, but only when Democrats’ goals aren’t to “abandon America’s free economy,” or “make America a submissive member of the” world. Then, Rubio said, he and his conservative brethren “won’t come here and work together, they will fight it every step of the way,” he said to a standing ovation.

Baby-faced Rubio was just one young speaker in a morning chocked full of beardless leaders (“I hope to grow a beard before I’m 35,” joked Ohio State Rep. Josh Mandel, a speaker on “Saving Freedom for Future Generations” panel).  The conference this year also includes a parallel XPAC conference – eXtremely Politically Active Conservatives, which has a video gaming room nearly (hello wii), youth sessions (hello, Sarah Huckabee) and even a rap party tonight – yes, rap, as in the Beastie Boys and judging from the crowd equally as white though I’m guessing not nearly as talented musically. They’ll also have Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi pinatas and, according to the Washington Examiner, celebrity guest James O’Keefe — of Acorn pimpdom fame who got in a bit of legal trouble with Senator Mary Landrieu’s phone lines recently — who got permission from authorities to leave the State of New Jersey to travel here for CPAC.

Ooop –Dick Armey’s now speaking. So much for the next generation. More to come…