9am: For the first time in my life, I’m signing on as credentialed media. The Media Room at CPAC 2011 is probably the quietest spot in the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, despite there being a window to the large ballroom where all the buzzed about speeches take place.
I’m amazed to be looking around seeing journalists from NPR, CNN, all the major newspapers, and a few bloggers like myself (though most of the CPAC blogging coverage will take place over at the Bloggers’ Lounge, and I’ll be putting up a list of great blogs to keep your eyes out for over the next three days).
I just had the pleasure of catching up with one of my favorite bloggers, John Hawkins of RightWingNews, and the head of the Va Beach area Young Republicans, DJ Spiker. One of the best things about CPAC is the camaraderie that we feel, reuniting after a year in our various spheres of the conservative sector. Some of us are social liberals (this one right here!), some are anti-war, some were Obama-cans, but we’re all conservative in one way or another and all the different aspects of Right politics come together here. This is the same feeling that originally appealed to be concerning the Tea Party groups. Unfortunately, the national movement took a decidely religious- and social-conservativism turn and I was one of many young Libertarian-esque pols who were pushed out.
See highlights from CPAC 2011’s first morning after the jump.
Opening the day at 9am (as I struggled with both registration and technological issues) was the welcome from the ACU, as always. Rep. Michelle Bachmann focused her opening remarks – to the delight of the packed house – on the repeal of Obamacare and US debt. Rep. Bachmann has easily gotten the most animated response from the crowd today, though Sen. Mitch McConnell’s mention of “Jesus’ will” in dealing with the Chinese got a standing ovation.
Former Speaker and annual conservative favorite Newt Gingrich spoke just before his book signing at 1. As most of his speeches seem to, Gingrich began by looking longinginly back on the Party’s old successes and lamenting the work of the Obama Administration over the last two years. With my favorite sound bites of the day, he seemed to have a habit of letting himself slip a little too closely to his professor style. Facts and figures abounded and, surprisingly in a crowd of such fans, the audience wasn’t as enthusiastic as I’d assume they would be for Newt. His opening music of “Eye of the Tiger” only seemed to lend to the feeling of “been there, heard this” throughout his event (I also may have felt like this as Gingrich entered to the same tune last year at CPAC 2010).
Gingrich’s speech concludes the morning schedule of CPAC 2011. I’ve spent most of the morning hunched over my laptop in the media room alongside some of my favorite conservative pundits and I couldn’t be more grateful. For now, I’m heading to lunch, and this afternoon I’ve been invited to join Citizens United for a screening of their latest film and the Accuracy in Media group for an awards ceremony honoring Tucker Carlson for his work with The Daily Caller. Looking forward to getting out and about in the hotel a bit more no matter which events I end up covering. Until tonight, I’m live tweeting as always and would love to know: what are you looking for in coverage of CPAC?