Seen at CPAC, day 2: a pair of showstoppers

I tweeted this morning that the three biggest hallway traffic stoppers up to that point were Allen West, Allen West, and Allen West.

Then came Senator Rand Paul. I got a clue about what was coming when I stopped by his book-signing session. The crowd was big (and young), and a pair of unsmiling young female bouncers sharply cut off anyone taking personal photos. I quickly brandished my blogger credential, and they left me in peace.

As the time for Sen. Paul’s speech approached, the ballroom with the main stage gradually filled up. Some of those people came to hear former senator Rick Santorum, who spoke immediately before Sen. Paul and who has a loyal following of his own. When Sen. Paul took the stage, however, there was no doubt the boss was in the house. Those of us in the media center in the back of the room had to content ourselves with glimpses of images of the senator on jumbo screens, occasionally visible through the sea of standing people.

As for the hallway outside the ballroom once Sen. Paul’s speech was over, the exiting crowd (I felt sorry for the next speaker) jammed it solidly. What’s usually a 60-second walk to the main staircase took about seven minutes.

Sen. Paul won last year’s CPAC straw poll. Wouldn’t surprise me a bit if he were to take bragging rights again when this year’s poll results are announced tomorrow.