Notes from CPAC 2014, day 1

The frugal blogger (c’est moi) saves money by flying into the Conservative Political Action Conference the day it opens, instead of spending money on a hotel room the night before. Unfortunately, the frugal blogger is subsequently wiped out by mid-evening, having gotten up at 4 a.m. to catch the morning flight, and has no energy to make a proper post at day’s end. I offer a few photos instead, leaving proper posts to the people who got more sleep.

Arriving at 8:45 a.m. with Ted Cruz scheduled to make the first speech at 9? Tough luck. Here’s what the media registration line looked like:

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But that’s OK, because Sen. Cruz later offered to sit down with some bloggers for a short Q&A session.

Sen. Ted Cruz (all photos by E. Kolb)
Sen. Ted Cruz (all photos by E. Kolb)

And by the way, if I were handing out awards to politicians who really seem to love meeting people without using staff as a buffer, Sen. Cruz would be a contender, as would Sen. Rand Paul and former Congressman Allen West.

Rep. Michele Bachmann at CPAC 2014
Rep. Michele Bachmann at CPAC 2014

Michele Bachmann can stop traffic just by showing up. She didn’t have a slot as a mainstage speaker today. She didn’t need one. She just stood by Radio Row and immediately drew a crowd.

Chris Christie surprised me – and a lot of other people, based on what I overheard around me – when he proudly identified himself as “prolife.” I was pretty sure someone nearby was muttering hey, that’s no way for a moderate to talk! But good for the Governor. He added that prolife means caring about people after birth as well as before, which is not exactly a news flash. Then he cemented his credentials as a Republican pragmatist when he pointed out, “We don’t get to govern if we don’t win.”

Congressman Paul Ryan
Congressman Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan and Bobby Jindal both tore into the HHS mandate. We haven’t heard nearly enough about that lately from elected officials. It ain’t settled.

CPAC draws a youthful crowd; I’m guessing half the attendees are college students – most with a strong libertarian bent, if the students I spoke with today are representative of their peers.

Senator Tim Scott deserves more mic time than he got today.

The swag haul at CPAC can be huge. The dozens of exhibitors give away everything from bags (here’s a tip: get one of those first) to pins and shirts. Plenty of books are there to be purchased as well, with several authors holding book-signings during the conference.

One of my favorite authors, who was also one of my favorite speakers at last year’s CPAC, is Eric Metaxas. He’ll be speaking on the main stage tomorrow before moving to the exhibit hall to sign copies of his fine book on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It’s on my Kindle, which probably rules out an autograph.

Phyllis Schafly was on a panel discussing Common Core and education. We should all hope to be that sharp at age 89.

More tomorrow, probably in several short posts, with tweets along the way @leaven4theloaf.