Now that I’ve recovered somewhat from sleep deprivation and finally feel comfortable with the overwhelming environment of CPAC – with its multiple events and appearances by conservative leaders – I’m feeling I can relax, sit down, and focus on some blogging. Unfortunately, I’ve got a whole day’s worth to catch up, while juggling all of today’s events.
For a newcomer, having various politicians constantly present throughout the day is exhilarating. The day began with Jim DeMint introducing Marco Rubio. After Rubio’s speech, DeMint also gave follow-up comments. I was greatly anticipating hearing Rubio but was detained in the long line to obtain credentials. I’ve heard that his speech was great. I certainly enjoyed Demint’s follow-up comments. DeMint clarified his controversial statement (which he took a lot of fire for): “I would rather have 30 Republicans in the Senate who really believe in principles of limited government, free markets, free people, than to have 60 that don’t have a set of beliefs.” DeMint stated that he would rather have 30 Marco Rubios than 60 Arlen Specters.
A short while later, I recognized Mike Lee (from my home county) who is running against Bob Bennett (R-Utah) for his senate seat. I was eager to see someone from my home state, so I introduced myself and chatted for a bit with Lee and two of his staff. While I was still pondering the oddity of seeing someone from back home, I walked into the hall and saw Utah Rep. Rob Bishop (1st) being interviewed by Moe Lane of RedState. I waited. After his interview, I introduced myself and we talked as he and a staffer found their way back to the main floor. Bishop mentioned that Utah should be getting a 4th seat in the House soon. I asked him about the process of drawing the boundary lines for the districts and about what we might do to win the 2nd back for the Republicans. He seemed optimistic that Utah might soon have four GOP Reps.
Doug Hoffman, from the narrowly lost NY-23 race, was also in the hall (he was to speak later in the evening during the dinner ball). He will be running again for the seat in November (the special election was only to finish out the term). He will be running on the Conservative party ticket, but is very likely to earn the backing of much of the Republican party as well. He’s a very genuine and ‘smiley’ guy. Hoffman seemed quite pleased that I recognized him.
In the afternoon, we were enlightened with Leader Boehner (who I thought did quite well), and Wayne LaPierre from the NRA. LaPierre had an extremely well prepared presentation which included lots of video showing liberal attacks against gun owners and their rights.
I took some time later to walk through the co-sponsors’ Exhibition Hall, walked by ‘Radio Row’, and generally strolled the grounds. This hotel is HUGE and has numerous conference room, ballrooms, halls, etc. Spread over several floors, it’s quite a maze!
Later in the evening, I went to the XPAC lounge for the free food (insert smiley face!) and stayed to see Stephen Baldwin moderate a little Q&A with Andrea Tantaros and Sarah Huckabee, daughter of, and campaign manager for, Governor Mike Huckabee. The prepared questions for them were very odd: How has sexism affected your career? What effect would a potential Sarah Palin race vs. Hillary Clinton in 2012 have on women’s role in politics? I think the second question wasn’t a very fair question to ask Sarah H. given the possibility of her Dad running in 2012. One funny thing – I was standing near a small table, finishing my food (before the Q&A), when Sarah H. walked up, set down her bag, and joined me at the table – while she was prepping. Surprised to suddenly see her and recognize her, I congratulated her on her upcoming wedding in the Virgin Islands. Surprise lit up her face as she replied, “Wow, news spreads fast.”
Besides Governor Romney’s speech, the clear highlight of the day was the surprise appearance of Vice-President Dick Cheney. While typing away, I was vaguely listening to Liz Cheney’s speech when suddenly the lounge BURST into cheers. Some folks got up and ran out of the lounge onto the balcony of the main ballroom. Cheney entered to thunderous applause, to which he warmly responded, “A welcome like that almost makes me feel like running for office again… But I’m notta gonna do it.”
But Nate, what about Romney’s speech? It was awesome. So awesome that I’m going to write more about it in a separate post (hopefully later tonight). Just a pre-cap: It was second best speech I’ve ever heard him give; second only to his Faith in America speech. They are very different speeches -given under different circumstances – and comparing them is akin to analyzing remarks given in a class reunion setting as opposed to a court room setting.
Now, with multiple interruptions, I’ve finally finished my rough draft and I’m just going to publish. I will re-read and add photos as I’m able. Otherwise, I’ll never get this post off. So much for being able to focus!