OXON HILL, Md. — As the GOP struggles to broaden its appeal, the head of the American Conservative Union declared Thursday that the Republican Party is not a home for everyone, as prominent voices in Republican politics gather with thousands of conservatives and tea party activists outside Washington.

The Conservative Political Action Conference offers Republican leaders — past and potential presidential contenders among them — a high-profile stage to court their party’s most passionate voters. The three-day gathering also shines a spotlight on deep divisions within the Republican Party as it tries to recover from a painful 2012 election season.

“I’m a firm believer that if the Republican Party is going to have some success, it’s going to do so by being a conservative party and not a home for everybody. That’s how you grow,” Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union, told reporters Thursday morning.