It might be more accurately called a circus, but the most prestigious conservative political convention of the year took place last week, just a short drive from IAM Headquarters.
The Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, is the annual pilgrimage of conservative activists to meet, greet and size up Republican politicians. Potential GOP presidential candidates are especially eager to gain favor of the right-wing crowd – a great speech at CPAC can go a long way toward 2016.
But the real show comes when you walk around the atriums of the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center in National Harbor, MD, site of CPAC 2014.
There’s star-struck young conservatives elbowing their way through crowds to get a picture taken with Ted Cruz, the Republican senator from Texas who has become the darling of the Tea Party after he led the charge to a government shutdown last October. Roaming the halls are billionaire Republican donors like Foster Friess, who spent oodles of money making sure anti-union Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker stayed in office when he faced a recall election in 2011. And everyone makes time to cast their ballot in the annual CPAC Straw Poll, which Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul took home this year.
Here’s a look at our trip inside CPAC 2014:
|Before you get in the door, you know exactly where you are. This van was parked out front.||
Yeah, what’s with this global warming stuff liberals keep talking about?
|A documentary about Ronald Regan, narrated by Newt Gingrich. A dream combination for a conservative who’s stuck in the 80s.|
|The only CPAC attendee in favor of raising the debt ceiling.||This relates to conservatism in some way. We just don’t know how.||“Union-slayer” Scott Walker didn’t show up to CPAC, but his efforts to hurt working people were given lots of respect in this crowd.|
|The National Right to Work Foundation has its eye on making the entire country right to work (for less).||From the fiction or non-fiction section?||The GOP is having trouble with the youth vote, it seems.|
|The Tea Party booth is looking awfully lonely. Are even conservatives getting sick of them?||Failed presidential candidate Rick Santorum ditched the sweater vest for the occasion.||You don’t have to go far to see another disastrous Republican presidential candidate. Here’s Texas Gov. Rick Perry.|
|And one more for good measure … Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.||You never know who you’re going to find. Here’s an anarchist interviewing Fox News contributor and former House Representative Allen West.||And CPAC just wouldn’t be complete without a few Tea Partiers walking around.|