[A big thank you to Richard Hornsby for the photo]
This past Wednesday through Saturday, The American Conservative Union sponsored the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC. CPAC was open to all conservative activists who wanted to attend. This year, I had the honor of being a credentialed blogger for CPAC, and, thus, was able to sit in the bloggers’ lounge that was sponsored by Freedom Works. Tabitha Hale, the brains behind the bloggers’ row who put the whole thing together, really outdid herself. (All attendees should participate in a quiet “golf clap” for Tabitha.)
Folks, I had a blast this past week. Seriously, if any of you ever get the opportunity to attend CPAC, I highly suggest going. In fact, there are three very good reasons to attend CPAC next year (or any similar national conservative activist conference in the future). So, without much fanfare and ado, let’s get right to it.
1.) CPAC is a great place to hear some awesome political speeches, and meet many famous conservative political activists and politicians.
This year at CPAC, participants had the opportunity to listen to many famous pundits and politicians speak. Tim Pawlenty, Rick Perry, Haley Barbour, Ron Paul, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, David Horowitz and Andrew Breitbart were some of the many famous speakers that were there. However, there were three speakers in particular that I, personally, thought brought down the house.
Herman Cain (who is a radio talk show host and the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza) gave a speech that greatly exceeded the expectations of many people in the political class. Ed Morrissey–who wrote that Cain “stole the show” on Friday afternoon–has done a good job of collecting many of the highlights of Cain’s speech (the embed is below):
Cain said that the American Dream is being attacked by what he calls “the -ations” — legislation, regulation, and taxation. He continued that Republicans need to repeal and replace health care reform, and also “throw out” the “messed up tax code” and replace it with a new system.
The “objective of the liberals is to destroy America,” he Cain continued, but “if you can get a liberal to engage in an intelligent in the first place, ask them to strip away labels.”
Like, for example, Cain said, when liberals call anyone who disagrees with Obama a “racist.”
“They call me racist too just because I disagree with a President who happens to be black,” he continued. He told the crowd: “You are not racists — you are patriots.”
However, my favorite part of Herman Cain’s speech came when he said the following at around 8:10-8:20:
“Stupid people are ruining America.”
My husband and I nearly fell off of our chairs laughing when we heard that.
Then, on Saturday afternoon, Ann Coulter gave an excellent speech that had many good moments in it (particularly, from 4:40-5:15, 5:40-6:30, 7:40-8:20 and 12:50-13:45). (Oh, and Welcome to the Jungle by Guns and Roses was a cool choice for an entrance song).
However, Coulter was absolutely on fire during the Q&A that followed her speech (Q&A is her forte’). I would say that the best moment of her Q&A session with the crowd was when someone asked her, “Who is your least favorite Democrat?” (at 10:48-11:30 in the embed below), because Coulter responded by giving the following answer:
“That’s like asking me my least favorite disease. I can’t do my least favorite, I’m sorry”.
Then, she quickly quipped, “Cancer”. Again, my husband and I almost fell over laughing.
Now, immediately following Ann Coulter came Representative Allen West, the keynote speaker of CPAC. Before starting his speech, though, Congressman West was kind enough to visit the bloggers’ lounge and take questions from the bloggers there.
Oh, and Colonel West was gracious enough to take a picture with me as well.
[Thanks again to Richard Hornsby for the picture.]
And finally, Congressman West gave an incredible stem-winder that finished up CPAC with a bang. He was introduced below by Sargent Jason Auburn who guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. As Congressman West walked onto the stage, you could hear Right Now by Van Halen playing. All I have to say is Dammit, you know that you’re at CPAC when you see a colonel–introduced by sergeant who guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier–walk on the stage while Van Halen is playing. (None of that wussified“Yes We Can” foolishness over here. And yes, wussified is indeed a word–look it up.)
Now, onto the second reason why CPAC is a must for any aspiring conservative activist.
2.) CPAC is a great place to meet people and network, network, network.
First of all, I obviously can’t stress the whole networking part enough. It is one thing to converse with your fellow bloggers/activists online or via email–it is a whole ‘nother ball of wax to meet them face to face. When you meet someone in person, you can get a much better feel for who they really are by their body language or facial expressions–which are things that cannot possibly be conveyed by simply communicating with someone online. Furthermore, if you form a personal bond with someone at a conference like CPAC–even if you only talk to the person for, say, fifteen minutes–given the choice, they are much more likely to link to, or pimp, your stuff than someone that they think is a total douche (no matter how good of a writer the douche in question might be). (Hey, I don’t make the rules–those are just the facts. You have to accept the world how it is, not how you want it to be.)
Moreover, at CPAC, I had the unique privilege of meeting some of the most iconic bloggers/writers online. It was a phenomenal experience. I mean, it is so totally cool to actually meet people that you’ve been reading or conversing with for years online. (See the photos below that my husband took in and around the bloggers’ lounge).
The above picture is of Daily Caller reporter, and CNN contributor Matt Lewis on my left and Garrett Quinn of The Boston Globe (or Boston.com) on my right. Both of these gentlemen are extremely knowledgeable about politics, and Matt Lewis told me interesting stories about his experiences covering the NH primary. I highly suggest picking their brains if you ever get the chance.
Above is a photo of me and Caleb Howe, a man who needs no introduction. He is the assistant editor of Redstate.com, and is a legend in the blogging community. The dude is just too cool for color TV, and he makes any party that he attends teh awesome.
Above is a picture of me with the totally cool editor of the highly influential Right Wing News, John Hawkins (where I am also a contributor).
Above is a photo of me and my husband (Chris Fleetwood) that was taken right after Herman Cain spoke on Friday afternoon.
Above is a picture of myself with the awesome, iconic Ed Morrissey of Hot Air. He is the driving force behind what becomes newsworthy in the conservative blogosphere. A link by him is huge–nay, monumental. Enough said.
Above is a picture of myself with Fingers Malloy of FTR Radio and Parcbench (where I am also a contributor). Fingers is an intimidating looking guy, but don’t let the mohawk fool you–he’s a real sweetheart.
Above is a photo of me with the adorable Tabitha Hale who was the brains and the force behind the bloggers’ lounge at CPAC (and who is also a contributor to Redstate.com). Again, she deserves a round of applause for her outstanding organizational abilities.
The above picture is of me and Nice Deb who owns the excellent blog Nice Deb. My husband and I had dinner with her and John Hawkins later in the evening, and she was very….well, nice. She just exudes this whole Midwestern class/politeness from every pore. Her blog is quite aptly named.
And, here is another photo of my buddy, the awesomely, awesome John Hawkins (with a myriad of boggers scurrying around in the background).
And finally, here he is ladies and gentlemen. The man, the myth, the legend who made the fedora cool–it’s the one and only Robert Stacy McCain (with me) in the above picture. This guy is only the coolest cat in the conservative blogosphere. Getting linked on his blog means that you’ve finally arrived. Enough said.
Oh, and I almost forgot to give you all one final piece of advice before we move on to point number three. ALWAYS BRING A CAMERA EVERYWHERE YOU GO AT CPAC. Why? Because you never know who you are going to run into there. For instance, when I went downstairs to get a sandwich I ran into Johnathan Martin of Politico. He was an extremely nice guy and we talked for a good ten minutes, but I had forgotten my camera upstairs. I never made that mistake again. So the next day, when we went to McDonald’s, I took my camera with me and look who I ran into:
Yes Ladies and Gentlemen, that would be Alfonzo Rachel of PJTV who is famous for his “ZoBama” impersonations–and, who was personally attacked by Charles Blow for being part of a “minstrel show” (because liberals are all “tolerant” and stuff).
And then, when we returned to the hotel lobby, I ran into Jim Hoft–otherwise known as Gateway Pundit. He is pretty famous in blogging world and was mentioned by William Kristol on Fox News Sunday for breaking open the Van Jones story. (Oh, and he’s a very nice guy as well.)
Now, onto the third reason why CPAC is the bomb for all budding conservative activists.
3.) You get to party like a rockstar in the Kruiser Cabana with the Red Eye guys and various other conservative celebrities.
During every major conservative convention, like BlogCon or CPAC, Stephen Kruiser of PJTV is kind enough to host awesome parties in his room–or, turn his room into the “Kruiser Cabana”. Stephen is just a stitch (as we say down south). And, besides working for PJTV, he is also a stand up comic and is a frequent guest on Fox’s Red Eye. Therefore, Kruiser tends to get a lot of high profile guests to come to his parties (like, for instance, the guys from Red Eye). In fact, the Kruiser Cabana was so kickin’ this year, that Stephen Kruiser was named CPAC’s Miss Congeniality.
[Below are some pictures that we took in the Kruiser Cabana, as well as at other CPAC hot spots.]
Above is a picture of Red Eye host Greg Gutfeld and me. How cool is that? (Gee, I sound like highschooler.)
Oh, and here is a little bipartisan love for everyone. On my right is conservative writer Philip Klein of American Spectator and Politico, and on my left is liberal writer Tommy Christopher of Mediate. (They both know a lot about politics and are awesome to hang out with, by the way.)
And, above is a picture myself with the lovely Kristina Ribali and the lovely Pamela Geller. Did I mention that they were lovely?
Above is a picture of Stephen Kruiser and my husband. I think that they are both cuties, but I’m probably a little biased. (I’m married to one, and I had a blast at the other one’s parties.)
And, above is a picture of the awesome Ben Howe of Redstate.com (brother of Caleb Howe–awesomeness runs in their family) standing next to my adorable hubby.
Now, that handsome man in the tri-corner hat above is frequent Fox News Business panelist Paul Erickson. He threw a killer party earlier that evening. (Yes, there is life outside the Kruiser Cabana at CPAC. But hey, Stephen, you’re still Miss Congeniality and no one can take that away from you.)
And, above is my good friend Amy Miller posing with me at Mr. Erickson’s party. (She’s so cute isn’t she?)
Above is the always awesome Robert Stacy McCain and the very gracious Paul Erickson. (Hmmm….I don’t know what I like better, the fedora or the tri-corner hat.)
Pictured above is me with the always adorable Alexa Moutevalis and the always awesome Caleb Howe. (Remember, awesomeness runs in the Howe family.)
The above picture is of myself with Steve Eggleston (proprietor of the great blog No Runny Eggs) and the always awesome Ben Howe.
The five cute guys in the above photo are as follows (from left to right): Kevin Eder (who runs the Facebook and Twitter pages for the Media Research Center and Newsbusters), Stephen Gutowski of Human Events and Eyeblast TV, Fingers Malloy, Chris Fleetwood and Steve Eggleston.
And, here we have the iconic Robert Stacy McCain on my right and John Howting on my left, who is president of Miami Universities ISI Chapter. (Man, those college Republicans are just so darn cute, aren’t they?)
Oh, and here is another picture of the beautiful Kristina Ribali. I’m sure all of you gentlemen reading this just hate seeing her again.
Above is a shot of me talking to Da Tech Guy, who is one of my all time favorite bloggers–and favorite people–in the conservative blogosphere. (Oh, and check out his cool fedora!)
Above is a photo of me talking to the always charming Christopher Renner. (Hmmm….what’s better, the fedora, the tri-corner hat, or the cowboy hat? Decisions, decisions.)
The above picture is of me and the lovely Sarah Rumpf, who is the proprietor of the blog Sunshine State Sarah. This was my first time meeting Sarah, but she struck me as a, well….very sunny person–not to mention, she was a heck of a lot of fun to hang out with.
In the above picture (starting from left to right), you’ve got the adorable Jenny Erickson whispering to the uber-cool and super hilarious Larry O’Connor from Breitbart TV. And next to them, is Dr. Gina Loudon (in the grey) whispering to Meredith Dake, Mr. O’Connor’s very pretty producer.
And, in this picture, I am posing with the lovely Dr. Gina Loudon on my right (yes, that Dr. Gina Loudon who smacked down sleazy VF columnist Michael Gross), and the lovely and talented Jenny Erickson on my left.
Above is a photo of John Hawkins and Nice Deb at a killer Thai restaurant called The Thai Kitchen (they have great red chicken curry). John, Deb, my husband and I ventured over there after CPAC on Saturday night prior to heading over to the Kruiser Cabana.
The above picture is of me and charming, polite Glen Asbury, who is the proprietor of the popular blog Ramblings.
Above is a picture of a gentlemen by the name of Brian Henchey who is the host of The New England Job Show. I just met Brian late that evening in the Kruiser Cabana when I blurted out to him that he “had great hair”, and then asked to take a picture with him. He laughed, thanked me for the compliment, and then politely complied with my request. However, Brian turned out to be a great conversationalist and an all around funny dude; therefore, I really hope to see him again at CPAC next year.
And finally, rounding out my collection of party pics is this final parting shot of me and Stephen Kruiser. (Oh, how I will miss the Kruiser Cabana). One more thing. That button on my hat says, “Dale Peterson for President”.
So, in conclusion, I think that I’ve concisely summed up why CPAC is a must for any and every aspiring conservative activist–not to mention, why it’s truly a “can’t miss” event if you want to meet the who’s who of the conservative blogging/activist world.
However, I just have one more thing to add before I leave you all. I think that next year’s theme song for CPAC’s keynote speaker should be Dreams by Van Halen, because it’s got a very patriotic video that mainly consists of incredible footage of The Blue Angels flying and performing stunts. Since we had one Van Halen song this year, why not have another one next year?
And on that note, I say that I truly can’t wait to see you all again next year!
PS–I took those hats home with me that I was wearing in those photos. (You can clearly see them poking out of my tote-bags in the above picture taken outside of Reagan International Airport on Sunday afternoon.)
PPS–I see you over there doing air guitar at your computer. ;-)