Saturday, February 27, 2010

CPAC - Day 1

I have already briefly described part of my first day at CPAC. Early in the morning I met Stephen Baldwin at XPAC and then listened to Marco Rubios speech to start the day.

The day started off great, and things only got better and better as the day went on.

One of the loudest, most raucous reactions I have ever heard in my life is when the moderator announced " a surprise appearance." As the moderator announced we would next be hearing from "The NEW Senator from Massa..." the rest got obliterated by noise as the crowd went totally insane.

Senator Scott Brown from Massachusetts!
The man who stopped Obamacare!
Conservatives at CPAC loved him.

Brown was low-key, self-deprecating, and very down-to-earth. He was great.
He spoke for about five minutes then introduced Mitt Romney.
He made sure that it was clear to everyone in the room that Mitt had supported him early on in his campaign and had helped with money and connections to donors.
He didn't say it outright, but he was implying that he might not have won the election without Romneys initial support -- and that he, and the whole country, are in Romneys debt for getting him across the finish line in Massachusetts.

Scott Browns unspoken message was heard and clearly understood by the crowd.

Romney gave a very smooth and polished speech.
Very professional. Very Presidential.
Here is a clip that I recorded myself.

He might be the Republican nominee in 2012.
I'm not the biggest fan of his, but I understand his appeal to others.
He is a businessman who specializes in turning around failed and troubled projects.
He might be the perfect guy to follow an Obama Presidency.

I'm just a little leery of some of his previously liberal stances.

During the Romney speech I made a good friendship with a guy named John Clark from Florida, who is working for Colonel Allen West as part of his Congressional campaign. John was crucial in introducing me to the Colonel later on at CPAC. (I want to thank John for that.)

After Mitt Romney spoke it was time for Congressman Thaddeus McCotter to speak.

Unfortunately for McCotter, Brown and Romney had been such powerful, emotional, and motivational speakers that much of the audience got up to leave or to take a break after they had heard them speak.

I caught up to Congressman McCotter in a hallway outside the ballroom where he was addressing some students after his speech.
Congressman McCotter was exceedingly nice and polite and attentive to the students.
When he had a free minute I introduced myself and talked about my campaign.
I thanked him for being such a great voice for Conservatism.
I know some of you might not know much about Congressman McCotter, but you should.

To me, personally, he's a lot more important than some of the other bigger figures in the Republican Party.

I left the conference for a few hours to go look around town and grab a few photos.
I wasn't sure how much time I would have left when the conference was over, and I didn't want to leave empty handed. These photos were taken on day 1 of CPAC.

After a few hours around D.C., I hurried back to the Marriott to make sure that I didn't miss some of the evening events. When I entered the lobby, I saw people swarming around someone on the lower level like they were following a rock star. It turned out that it was Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. People seemed like they couldn't get enough of him.

I shot this grainy video of him giving an impromptu speech outside the ballroom.

A little after his speech, I stopped down at XPAC again and was lucky to get to introduce myself to Conservative commentator Andrea Tantaros, who often appears as a "talking head' on political discussions on news programs. She is well known and well liked in Conservative circles.

After a brief visit at XPAC, I headed back upstairs for a speech held by the Campaign for Liberty folks.
An evening with Ron Paul.


Early on during the first day of CPAC, I noticed an overabundance of Ron Pauls "Campaign for Liberty" supporters swarming all over the Marriott Wardman Park Center handing out flyers and promoting their cause. I was very surprised to see my friend Nick Hankoff, from Los Angeles, at the convention organizing the Campaign for Liberty supporters.

CPAC always draws a wide variety of Conservative and right-wing causes and supporters, and Ron Pauls supporters were a normal part of the crowd. However, they seemed to be a little too present. They were at every escalator and around every corner. If you didn't get hit up by them with a flier 20 times a day it would have been unusual. Supporters of Ron Paul have been known for their fervent support of the Congressman, and for sometimes being a little over the top about it. They have been given the derisive nickname "Paulistas" by some in Conservative circles.

Earlier in the day, I had seen swarms of his supporters surrounding the understaffed people running the CPAC Straw Poll. They seemed to be overjoyed to be filling out their forms and voting for Ron Paul. The CPAC Straw Poll usually generates national attention with its results, as it is often seen as an indicator as to who is the favorite candidate for the next Presidential election. On the second floor outside the exits to the main Marriott Ballroom, I saw more Paul supporters surrounding another Straw Poll voting table. The sight of this made me uneasy. I mentioned my apprehensions to several other people. Regardless of the behavior of his supporters, I don't attribute any of this strange activity to Ron Paul himself. "It's a free country", I thought, "let them vote for who they want..."

I respect Ron Paul. I admire his service in the Air Force and as a Congressman from Texas. But I am not a "Paulista". I bought his book "The Revolution", and read it. I agree with many things in his book, but I don't agree with Ron Paul on foreign policy. I think he is dangerously isolationist and underestimates the evil intentions of our enemies. I don't think Ron Paul is even a Conservative. I view him as a Libertarian.

However, Nick had invited me to the event, so I went.

Ron Paul was introduced by Judge Andrew Napolitano.
Napolitano went a little off the rails, in my opinion.
He fired up the Campaign for Liberty people with some harsh rhetoric. I didn't care for some of the things he had to say and refused to applaud or to stand up for many of his comments. I felt he took some unnecessary cheap shots at other Conservatives, which is not a smart thing to do at at Conservative political conference.
I particularly didn't care for some of his cheap shots at Vice President Dick Cheney.
Cheney may not be perfect, but I refuse to assign him the negative intentions that some of the Campaign for Liberty supporters do. Napolitano offended me and I wish he would stop making these attacks that he does in these public speeches.

Ron Paul spoke and generally covered a lot of ground that he has covered before. Some of his comments were almost direct quotes from his book. Nothing new to report here.
It had been a long day - so I went to bed early in order to get up early for Day 2 at CPAC.

Stay tuned for more CPAC coverage at The Jennerjahn Report.