Notes from the second day of CPAC:
- When in doubt about how to make people like you, talk about football. Continuing a trend from yesterday, politicians continued to use football as their go to topic for laughs or analogies. Whether it was former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty joking about Brett Favre with Wisconsin politicians or Representative (Wis.) Paul Ryan yesterday referring to the Super Bowl winning packers for a cheer line, football has popped up in more than a few politicians' speeches. It's an old tactic. I know a former Hill staffer who, despite having no interest in the sport, read up on and watched it just so that she could have something to talk about with her colleagues.
- After much ado and a minor controversy, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson finally gave his speech. It was short and to the point. In under twenty minutes, Johnson hit all the talking points that have made him famous with the libertarian leaning conservatives: lower taxes, more open immigration and ending the drug war. They were met by a rather unenthusiastic crowd. It wasn’t that people loudly yelled or booed, they were just quiet. He should have swapped time slots with Don Rumsfeld, who was booed by the crowd that had showed up to see Rand Paul speak yesterday.
- CPAC's hotel host continues to make life interesting for the press. Yesterday when I arrived to receive press credentials, I ended up having to prove my employer by naming off staff members of The Examiner. I was greeted by a small press room with barely enough sockets to hold thirty people and a wi-fi that could charitably be classified a pathetic. Filing posts has remained an oft cursed challenge judging by the general comments I hear from the other media.
- For all the media accommodation difficulties, the conference has been great for timeliness. Part of this I’m sure is due to the large timer placed in front of the platform for speakers to see. This timer is great for media types, allowing people to plan their bathroom and smoke breaks around some of the more minor speakers, as well as providing something to stare at when you get bored of what the people on stage are saying.
- Ron Paul is still where the party's at. By far the most energetic event at CPAC so far was when Ron Paul gave his speech. The Representative from Texas commanded a huge crowd of young people who treated the speech more like a rock concert than a political speech. Bonus points: Paul made a few changes to his speech to reflect some current events.
- And finally, tomorrow is unofficial mustache day at CPAC. With former Ambassador to the U.N. and rumored 2012 Presidential Candidate John Bolton and his glorious mustache taking stage in the main room, we can finally listen to a man who’s both a conservative and a skilled facial groomer.