The Prelude To CPAC
First of all, if you’ve never attended CPAC, let me give you a sense of it: Imagine a fairly young crowd of 11,000 people, mixed in with policy wonks, political celebrities, and campaign operatives, all roaming the halls of a huge hotel. Every 15-to-20 feet, someone is shoving a flyer into your hands. Some of the events are empty, but most of the ones you really want to see are packed with people and you need to make it into the event early if you want to attend.
If you’re a blogger, then it really gets hectic because you’re running around trying to find events in a big building, there are tech problems, people are coming up to meet you, you’re being grabbed for different events, you’re trying to tweet, you’re trying to post, you’re trying to track down political celebs in the halls to get pics, and there are so many big events that you inevitably end up skipping some that you’d normally drive hours to attend. Just to give you an example, I missed Donald Rumsfeld speaking, one of Ann Coulter’s speeches, and David Horowitz giving a talk. My friend Pamela Geller actually had two events and I went to the wrong event, at the wrong time, in the wrong room =D (Which she forgave me for because she’s a sweetheart =).
Add to all of that the fact that for four days, a lot of the bloggers only got 5-6 hours sleep a night and spent most of the rest of their time circulating, and you can imagine how tired people were by the end of the event.
Wed: The Day Before CPAC
After getting four hours sleep, I bounced out of bed at 6:30 AM and drove 8 hours to Days Inn, DC. Happily, I managed to get in one of the best 2 hour long naps of my life before the night kicked off. How good was it? When the wake-up call came through, I awakened to the sound of a maid vacuuming DIRECTLY outside my door. I was sleeping through it like a baby.
After cleaning off the road grime, I headed over to the Marriott Wardman Park hotel to meet up with my buddy Skye and John Ruberry. We were heading out to get my — “Yes, I do live in a small town in the Carolinas, why do you ask?” — first taste of Indian food.
While we were in the lobby waiting, we ran into a few people.
Teri Christoph, Fingers Malloy & Skye
After a killer dinner (Indian food =’s WIN!), Skye and John split and I hit the bar at the Marriott, because other than the bloggers’ lounge, there was no place you were more likely to find bloggers than drinking at the bar. I was in luck….
Sarah Rumpf, Bethany Shondark, Kayla
Pamela Geller, John Hawkins
A few of the Smart Girls were around and they told me they had been invited to head up to the GOProud suite. They asked if I wanted to go and I figured, “Why not?” So, we headed upstairs where the two big kahunas in that organization, Jimmy LaSalvia and Chris Barron, were hanging out with an open bar. We chatted for a while, I got this killer shot, and then I called it a night.
Chris Barron and Jimmy LaSalvia
Thurs: Day 1 Of CPAC
Sadly, I didn’t get to catch every speech that I wanted to see. Things just got too crazy. But, there were some particularly good ones. I didn’t think Michele Bachmann gave her best speech, but she got things started,
Of course, Ann Coulter is always lethal. Wayne LaPierre was great, too. I also particularly liked Texas Governor Rick Perry’s speech, although it was slightly disturbing because he sounds like a more conservative, more charismatic George Bush impersonator. Same accent, same cadence to his speech — it seemed uncanny at times.
Hawt CPAC Rumor #1: Donald Trump was roaming the halls with a 20 man posse and was going to speak at the event. (Confirmed)
Yes indeed, “the Donald” did have a huge posse, he did speak at the event, and believe it or not, he sounded like he may really be considering a run at the presidency. His speech had sort of a populist tilt to it and he certainly played the “vote for me because of my resume” card heavily. Additionally, people did pour in the auditorium to listen to him speak, although I think the “freakshow factor” had more to do with it than any great love for Trump.
Hawt CPAC rumor #2: Maureen Dowd came by the blogger lounge. They pretended not to know who she was and denied her entry. (Unconfirmed — but, I think it’s true)
A few pics from the morning of Day 1:
CPAC Blogger of the year, Javier Manjarres and Bettina Inclan
Ana Marie Cox & John Hawkins (For some reason, the idea of the proprietor of Right Wing News taking a pic with the original Wonkette seemed hilarious to me)
Sarah Rumpf, John Hawkins, & Kristinna Ribali
Tricia Grannis, Skye, and Jason Mattera
Dana Loesch, Pamela Geller
Bossie followed me up to the podium and talked about Citizens United’s latest projects while we scarfed down some pretty good turkey sandwiches and pasta (The only thing bloggers love more than free food is free alcohol).
After the luncheon, we had some fairly high profile guests for bloggers’ row that afternoon — and, yes, I managed to talk my way into pictures with all of them,
John Hawkins and Rick Santorum
John Hawkins and Victoria Jackson
John Hawkins and Newt Gingrich
Unfortunately, there was another guest, Donald Rumsfield, I REALLY wanted to hit up for a pic and an interview. He came by for a brief period, at almost 6 PM, and I walked back in the door right as he was walking out. Naturally, I took off in the direction he was going in to try to run him down. However, there was one complication: Rumsfeld had a team of Secret Service agents around him. He was stopped, getting interviewed, and so I asked one of the agents if I could speak to him briefly and get a picture when he was done. The agent, who was roughly 6’5, looked me straight in the eyes, didn’t speak, and slowly shook his head, “No.” Because I am wise enough to respect large, well armed, well trained men who are allowed to legally pistol whip me if they think I’m a threat, I accepted that answer. So, the best I could do was get a quick shot of Rummy as his security hustled him past,
After the day’s festivities were through at CPAC, it was time for the much anticipated, invitation only BlogBash. It had great food, lots of adult beverages, and great company — especially if you’re a political nerd. This blogger shindig actually had a congresswoman (Renee Ellmers) and a presidential candidate (Herman Cain) as sponsors along with a Senatorial candidate from Texas (Michael Williams) as an attendee. That’s not too shabby to try to appeal to a bunch of people who normally sit around in their moms’ basements wearing pajamas.
Erik Telford, Ericka Andersen, Elissa Stautner, Dan Gainor
Jenny Erikson and John Hawkins
Robert Stacy McCain and Donald Douglas
Alexa Shrugged and Adrienne Royer
Michael Williams and John Hawkins
Jim Hoft and Melissa Clouthier
Renee Ellmers, Herman Cain, and John Hawkins
Kathleen McKinley and Kristinna Ribali
John Hawkins and Tabitha Hale
Lyndsey Fifield, Glenn Asbury, Lori Ziganto
After the outstanding blogger party (Thank you, Melissa Clouthier — and others), then came the event everybody had been talking about. The hottest ticket at CPAC, the one everyone seemed to want to go to was GOProud’s invitation only “‘Big Party’ With Andrew Breitbart Headlined by Singer/Songwriter Sophie B. Hawkins.” It was at the 18th Street Lounge and people were asking about tickets all day long – and, yes, I did happen to have tickets. I went to the party with Skye and Elissa Stautner.
There were some big names at the party. For example, while we were waiting in line for 25 minutes to get in, I recognized Grover Norquist walking by and asked him for a pic.
John Hawkins and Grover Norquist
You might also remember this fellow: He spent a lot of time in the news over the last two years,
Michael Steele and Elissa Stautner
Do you know what’s really ironic? While Steele was Chairman of the RNC, there was a huge scandal because someone at the RNC took some donors to a “lesbian bondage themed” club. Well, I can tell you that while Michael Steele was actually in the club, there was lesbian dirty dancing going on upstairs. Granted, it seemed pretty impromptu and was probably fueled by enough alcohol to float a barge, but still, it’s kind of funny if you think about it.
The area where Hawkins was singing was INSANELY crowded by the time we arrived and we spent almost the entire time we were there in other parts of the club.
Elissa Stautner and John Hawkins
Skye and John Hawkins
Hawt CPAC rumor #3: Andrew Breitbart almost got into a fistfight at the end of the GOProud party. (Unconfirmed)
By the time we cabbed back to the hotel, everyone was exhausted and called it a night….well, except for me. I found some bloggers to hang out with at the bar and stayed out for another hour or so. It’s actually kind of funny: I spent more time in the bar than anywhere else in the building except for my room and the bloggers’ lounge and I don’t even drink.
Kat Rice, John Hawkins, Sharon Soon
Molly Teichman and Teri Christoph
You can see part 2 of 2 here.