Having managed a bit more sleep Thursday night, I set out Friday with any eye toward focusing more on Conference events. First up was the “Red Carpet Blogger Awards” hosted by TheTeaParty.net and Right Wing News. As I approached the Maryland Ballroom in which it was to be held, sure enough, there was the red carpet leading into the room. And a somewhat long line, which I initially stood in, then realized that it was for non-bloggers. Yay! My creds enabled me to walk right in. I soon found Kemberlee @red_red_head and took a seat next to her. We were in for quite a treat!
Steven Crowder (@Scrowder) MC’d the event
A number of awards were handed out:
Top Humor Blog to @IowaHawkBlog
Best Writer on a Blog to @AceofSpadesHQ
Best News Blog to @TheRightScoop
Best Blog Linker to @Instapundit
Best New Blog of 2011 to Naked DC (@emzanotti)
Best Anti-Jihad Blogger to @Atlasshrugs
Most Underrated Blog to Legal Insurrection (@Leginsurrection)
Best State Blog to @TheSharkTank1
Most Influential Blog to @Instapundit
Tea Party Blogger of the Year to @GatewayPundit
Best Blog Overall to Hot Air (@hotairblog)
Presenters included @StephenKruiser
Duane Lester (@Bodhi1)
Tabitha Hale (@pinkelephantpun)
(Apologies for the quality (or lack thereof) of the pics – I need to work on that.)
But the highlight of the ceremony was, without question, the phenomenal live performance of the Powdered Zombies, a/k/a @ChrisLoesch and Steven Crowder (@SCrowder). Decked out in red and blue track suits and powdered wigs, this dynamic duo brought down the house. I shot video of it with my pathetic iPhone camera, but it does it no justice, so, with Chris’s permission, I’ll share with you the official video which you simply must watch:
Loved it! Also enjoyed finally meeting the infamous @SHannitysHair a/k/a “Theron Cal”. Charming gentleman!!
Next, I set my sights on the Main Ballroom. I’d missed the Mike Huckabee, Bob McDonnell and Rick Santorum speeches, unfortunately. This has to be, by far, my biggest disappointment about CPAC — it simply is not possible to see all the speeches and presentations you want to see. Not without cloning yourself. And I haven’t figured that one out yet, though there are times when I’m certain it would come in handy. At some point, when I have a moment to catch my breath, I’d like to go back and watch the video replay of some of the missed speeches. I’m not banking on that happening, though. Other writers with far better journalistic creds have already covered them in any event. And, at the risk of sounding extraordinarily self-centered, the point of these blogs is to share with you my experience. If nothing else, I hope to learn from it and build on it for future such conferences (and possibly pass some helpful information along to others who plan to attend them, as well.)
I knew, somehow, someway, there was a blogger overflow area that appeared to overlook the ballroom, even though no matter how many times I looked at the dang map, I could not quite figure out how to get to it. (I swear I’m usually quite good with directions. This hotel map had me befuddled, however.) I meandered around and finally gained entrance to a balcony area overlooking the ballroom. I’m still not entirely certain it was blogger-intended, but my good friend Loren Heal (@lheal) and I both found it and gained entrance at the same time. So, we’ll go with it.
From my newly acquired perch, I listened in on several speeches. (I could have possibly resituated myself so I could actually see the speakers, as well, but I was more interested in what they had to say than whether they’d worn a red or purple tie that day.) First up, was Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK). Again, I should have taken notes. Because as I search my memory banks now, five days later, I’ve got…nothing. (I’m sure this bodes well for future blogging opportunities.) Senator Inhofe was followed by Carly Fiorina, ACU Board Member and Vice Chair of the NRSC. She gave a fairly impassioned speech and it seemed well-received by the audience.
She was followed by Ann Coulter. Ann and I haven’t always seen eye-to-eye over the years. While I’ve always admired her wordsmithery, I haven’t always cared for her methodology. In fact, for years, I was one of the lone anti-Ann voices at the conservative message board to which I belong. www.rightnation.us Many’s the time I was accused of just being jealous of her. No. Not really. I just didn’t care for her approach. That said, I enjoyed her CPAC speech. She started off with the memorable line: “Greetings One Percenters, and welcome to ‘Occupy the Marriott'”! (I should add that, while these speeches were going on, my Twitter feed began lighting up with rumors of approaching Occupiers and trampled flower beds. I heard none of the commotion from where I was, but I did get an interesting perspective on their efforts later on that afternoon.) Ann made a decent pitch, selling Romney to the crowd, even if I highly disagree with the tortured pretzel twists she’s doing these days to defend Romneycare. Later that day, I managed to snag a pic as I walked by her:
Ann, of course, introduced Mitt Romney who, somewhat to my surprise, was rather warmly received by the crowd. I say this as one of the few Anti-Anti-Mitters in my Twitter feed. I suppose, based on what I’m used to reading in my timeline, I anticipated more of a chill in the air. I thought he gave a pretty good speech, though, and the audience seemed to approve. I, of course, liked his line, “I served in government, but I didn’t inhale.” Also, he got a standing ovation for acknowledging that he was proud of his success. Rightly so, in my opinion.
After Romney it was time for a break. I headed to Harry’s Pub and met up with Tuesday (@bluedevilmsn) Erin (@ErinECosta), and a couple other friends who graciously allowed me to join them. The rest of the afternoon is a bit of a blur. As I recall, it mostly involved wandering around and running into people I was excited to finally meet: @JamieMiller74 @rachelveronica @MBernadetteE @Dicentric @davidhauptmann @DanIsett and wondering where @AIPolitics was hiding. Gosh, I know there were more, and I’m leaving them out. Don’t hate me!!!
Late in the afternoon, I had the pleasure of attending #PurpleBash, a collaboration of Smart Girl Politics and Politicalistas. Very nice party. Big thanks to Ali Akbar (@Ali) and the Smart Girl Group (@SGPAction) for hosting. Enjoyed talking with Ali’s lovely mother, Lydia, and with Stacy Mott (@Stacy_Mott) and Teri Christoph (@TeriChristoph). Some pics from the event:
While there, the Occupiers returned, and I captured some pics and video of that from our balcony:
For some reason, the protest featured not only a Fat Cat, but also a golden toilet. I’m not entirely sure of its significance. Something I learned at CPAC, when I’m shooting video and talking, you can actually hear me. This is not always a good thing. Living and learning.
After #PurpleBash, it was time to go out to dinner at Old Ebbitt Grill with Tom Dougherty (@Tom1247), Michelle Ray (@GaltsGirl), TJ Thompson (@_TJThompson), Doug Mataconis (@DMataconis) and Coco (@SexyLibertarian). Many thanks to our gracious host, Tom for a lovely limo ride and delicious dinner! It did feel a bit one-percentish! And even though I’m no great fan of seafood, I must say the fried calamari were delicious!
Later, we returned to the Marriott and rejoined the rest of the gang. Snapped a pic with one of my new friends, Amelia Hamilton (@AmeliaHammy), author of One Nation Under God: A Book for Little Patriots – http://www.ameliahamilton.com/ – which is a must have for all parents who want their kids to learn about history, government and our basic rights from an early age!
Also saw Andrew Breitbart (@AndrewBreitbart), and will admit I was flattered when he recalled out meeting at Smart Girl Summit and my being a runner:
AND got a pic with two of the people I most enjoyed meeting at CPAC, the aforementioned Michelle Ray and Stephen Kruiser:
Enjoyed catching up a bit more with Chris Loesch, discussing some mutual friends. Also was happy to finally meet the lovely Breeanne Howe (@BreeanneHowe). She and her husband Ben (@Ben_Howe) are two of my Twitter favs!! And I finally got to meet fellow Mizzou fan and dear friend Jonathon Little (@JonathonLittle)
John LaRosa (@jslconsulting), Brad Marston (@BradMarston) and Four Tier Strategies (@4TierStrategies) were again hosting a party, so we meandered up there later in the evening. Enjoyed some more fun time with Jenn Taylor (@JennQPublic) and Caleb Howe (@CalebHowe). And if I haven’t mentioned Jenn’s partner in crime, Lori Ziganto (@SnarkandBoobs) before now, shame on me. This is another of FTR Radio’s dynamic duos, hosting the “That’s What She Said” show on Thursday evenings. Love them! While there, I also had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Gina Loudon (@DrGinaLoudon) and her lovely daughter, Lyda.
It was actually quite a fun party. But, as the saying goes, it’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye. It was late and folks were passing around a pizza menu. My pal Fingers Malloy (@FingersMalloy) handed it to me at one point, and I jokingly winged it back at him. Right into his right eyeball. There are no words to describe how awful I felt when I realized what I’d done. Awful. Simply awful. Thankfully, after a few minutes of blinking and wincing, Fingers was able to assure me that his eye was, in fact, still functional. But another lesson learned – do NOT wing pizza menus at friends. And God bless Fingers for being the forgiving sort!
By that point, it was quite late, and well past time to call it a night. My thanks go out again to all the gracious hosts and to all my dear sweet friends for providing me with a very memorable Friday at CPAC! (Can you believe there’s still another day-and-a-half to go?!)