by John Hawkins | February 13, 2012 8:47 am
CPAC is a conservative Disneyland for bloggers. You get up early and stay out late, meet famous conservatives, hang out with friends you only get to see in person 2-3 times a year, meet dozens and dozens of new people, and hit parties and receptions galore. In addition, you’re constantly circulating, being pitched by candidates and people hawking products, and walking from one side of the cavernous hotel to the other to try to chase down friends, get to events, or get snaps of big names. Even that description doesn’t really convey how hectic things really get.
This year, however, Dialog New Media was bringing me in as part of a team to cover CPAC as it occurred. In addition, I was running the CPAC Red Carpet Blogger Awards and doing a Social Media Mastery panel for The Tea Party.net while I was also booking a private get-together for Jim DeMint to promote his new book Now or Never: Saving America from Economic Collapse.
I was actually wondering if I was taking on a little too much for the event and um, yeah, the answer to that question turned out to be “yes.”
Day 1: Arrival
After getting 3 hours sleep, I had to be up at 4 AM in order to make the 8 hour drive into town to make a mandatory 3 PM CPAC staffer meeting. I checked into my hotel, took a 30 minute nap and awakened to find the meeting had been moved to 3:30. Unfortunately, when I made it to the hotel, I found that the meeting
had been moved back to 3:00 and I had missed it — which, of course, is a great way to start out any new working relationship — by missing the first mandatory meeting.
I ran into a few friends in the hotel.
After barnstorming through the hotel, I headed out to dinner with Tiffiny Ruegner and Kris Hall from The Tea Party.net.
 John Hawkins, Tiffiny Ruegner
Next up was John Brodigan’s RINOcon at Tortilla Coast. People always ask, “What the hell is RINOcon?” To the best of my knowledge, somebody once made a joke about how the RINOs should have their own convention and Brodigan decided to make an event out of it. The whole shindig consists of all the bloggers who are in town early going out to a bar/restaurant to hang out for a few hours. We probably made up 80% of the crowd at Tortilla Coast that night.
After RINOcon, I took the metro back to my hotel and called it a night.
Day 2: In the beginning, there was DeMint and BlogBash
Roughly 11,000 people registered for CPAC and as per usual, the event was booming. Also, as per usual, the Mariott Waldman’s Internet sucked. The Internet was almost completely non-functional, but by the end of the conference, it was pretty consistently delivering a bad dial-up level of performance — which was sadly an improvement. Supposedly, they had some sort of hardware failure, but whatever the lame excuse may be, it really made it difficult to post — even for the staff.
That morning, The Tea Party.net gave me access to a small, executive suite so I could get Jim DeMint together for a private meeting with roughly 35 bloggers.
DeMint wanted to promote his new book Now or Never: Saving America from Economic Collapse and it was a great opportunity for bloggers to talk face-to-face with him and get a pic. When I had my chance to bend his ear, I told him that I wish he had run for President this time around.
PS: Republican Party? Jim DeMint would make a fantastic candidate at a brokered convention. Just saying…
Later that day, my buddy Wayne Elise did a The Tea Party.net sponsored conservative dating seminar. Since I suggested him to them, I wanted to check it out. It was standing room only and there was a ton of press.
Wayne’s event got a lot of write ups, a few bad, but mostly good. One of my favorites, probably because I was quoted in it on the air, was this one from NPR (The only thing I didn’t like about it is that it was cut in a way that made it sound like I was behind the whole event instead of the The Tea Party.net.)
Great CPAC 2012 Lines #1: “I have a question for President Obama: Do you hate all rich people or just the ones that aren’t campaign contributors?” — Rand Paul
That afternoon, I had permission to go backstage and take a few pics.
Here are a couple of pictures that were taken before the evening’s festivities began.
After CPAC proper ended, it was time for the ultimate blogger party: Blogbash (A special thanks goes out to Melissa Clouthier, along with Ali Akbar and Aaron Marks from Vice and Victory for throwing a huge party that featured free booze, great prizes, awards and a surprisingly good band (I say surprisingly good because a lot of conservative music is pretty so-so and a little too on the nose).
Now, before I talk anymore about Blogbash, let me go all Quentin Tarantino on you and tell you what happened on the way to Blogbash.
There were 3 of us in a cab, headed to Blogbash, along with Tiffiny Ruegner. She spots a cell phone lying on the floor. It has a security system on it, so she can’t scroll through it freely, but it does have voice recognition. She tells it to dial “Mom.” Somehow, the name that comes back from that is Jeff Quinton. Since I knew him, I thought this was probably a blogger’s phone. I suggested she try “John.” Then, naturally, one of the names that came up was…no, actually it wasn’t me — but, John Brodigan was in there. Unfortunately, he was at Blogbash and when Tiffiny called, he couldn’t hear anything. At this point though, we figured we had the phone of a blogger at Blogbash. So I said, “Try Ali,” and, yes, Ali Akbar came up. Again, he couldn’t hear anything. Next, we tried “Melissa,” got Melissa Clouthier, who could somehow hear when no else could (probably all the mommying experience), and found out the phone belonged to the next person we were going to try: Tabitha Hale. And that is the story of how Tabitha Hale’s cell phone was saved!
Now, back to a few pics from the party.
 April Gregory, Ericka Andersen
After Blogbash, I crawled into bed and got a blessed 5:00 hours of sleep before…
Day 3: Occufail — The Lamenting
I have to tell you, I was genuinely excited about the first event I’ve ever put on at CPAC, the Red Carpet Blogger Awards sponsored by The Tea Party.net. Unfortunately, I was also a little worried, too.
The port that was open to run the event was at 9:30 AM and the only day it’s safe to do a blogger event before 11:00 AM is Day 1. On Day 2 of CPAC, all the bloggers have been out partying and drinking until 2 AM and a significant percentage of them don’t show up until 10:00 at the earliest. Still, I figured it was better to do an early event on Friday than Saturday — and besides, we had an amazing show lined up.
Of course, it didn’t run smoothly. My first hint of that should have been when I walked in the room to find a shirtless Steven Crowder changing clothes, noticed that the first trophy we were going to give out was broken, and realized that the cordless mike and audio equipment that the hotel was supposed to provide wasn’t in place.
This was a big deal because the show was supposed to open with a live rap performance (more on that in a moment.) So, we started working on getting equipment in the room, but there were a ton of problems that made us start 25 minutes late. This turned into a big issue because one of our presenters had to go at 10:00 as did Andrew Breitbart, who had agreed to pick up awards for not one, but TWO different bloggers (I told you the guy was EVERYWHERE). Unfortunately, because of the time delays, Breitbart had to go before the awards got started. Still, Breitbart being Breitbart, he hung out, shook hands. and took pictures with anyone who asked for as long as he could before he was forced to leave.
Another pic from before the event started.
Incidentally, you’re probably wondering how the event worked. Here’s a breakdown. There were 11 categories. One, the Tea Party Blogger of the Year, was selected by The Tea Party.net. In the other 10 categories, I selected nominees for each category and 5 judges voted (The judges were Jim Hoft, David Swindle, Patterico, Doug Ross, and Pamela Geller. Of course, if they were up for an award, they couldn’t vote in that category.
Here’s how it broke out in each category.
1) Top Humor Blog: Presenter (Stephen Kruiser)
I Own The World (Runner-Up)
The People’s Cube
2) Best Writer on a Blog: Presenter (Ben Shapiro)
Ace from Ace of Spades HQ (Winner)
Allahpundit at Hot Air (Runner-Up)
Van Helsing from Moonbattery
Jeff Goldstein from Protein Wisdom
3) Best News Blog: Presenter (Erick Erickson)
The Right Scoop (Winner)
Big Government (Runner-Up)
4) Best Blog linker: Presenter (James O’Keefe) (On a side note: James O’Keefe is doing some absolutely amazing work and this guy really deserves to get more funding. I hope somebody steps up to the plate and takes care of this guy.)
Instapundit (Winner — Victoria Jackson agreed to pick up this award on behalf of Glenn Reynolds. She pretended (I think) not to know who Glenn is, did a quick, funny acceptance speech, and then wandered off before she picked up Glenn’s second award.)
Hot Air (Runner-Up)
The Other McCain
5) Best New Blog of 2011: Presenter (Ed Morrissey)
Naked DC (Winner)
The Moorlock Revolt
The Mellow Jihadi
6) The Best Anti-Jihad Blogger: Presenter Katie Kieffer
Atlas Shrugs (Winner)
Pamela Geller didn’t come up to receive her award. Instead, she sent Duane Lester from All American Blogger up to do a funny little speech mocking CAIR. You’ll have to see it to believe it!
Sultan Knish (Runner-up)
Gates of Vienna
The Jawa Report
7) Most Underrated Blog: Presenter (Matt Lewis)
Legal Insurrection (Winner)
Riehl World View
8) Best State Blog: Presenter (Tabitha Hale)
The Shark Tank (Winner)
PA Water Cooler (Runner-Up)
9) Most Influential Blog: Presenter: (Dana Loesch)
(Mr. Pinko from I Own The World agreed to pick up Glenn’s trophy since Victoria Jackson wasn’t going to make it. I didn’t quite realize he was anonymous and he was going to pick up the award like this — which actually turned out to be pretty funny.)
PJ Media (Runner-up)
10) Tea Party Blogger of the Year: Presenter (Todd Cefaratti)
Gateway Pundit (Winner)
11) Best Blog Overall: Presenter (John Hawkins — Steven Crowder was sitting in the front row, with his shirt open, stroking his nipples when I was presenting this. I kid you not.)
Hot Air (Winner)
Now, the event was actually supposed to open with a live performance of Steven Crowder and Chris Loesch’s fantastic new rap song, “Mr. America.”
It ran a little late because of tech problems, but it was fully worth it — and oh wow, did it create controversy. You see in the song, they use the “word” knickers. This has been intentionally misreported in some left-wing outlets as use of the N-bomb.
Additionally, this video, showing a black man leaving during the performance is also supposed to be devastating proof of racism.
#1) The man in question was the guy running the video tech for the event. Despite the weird problems we had, he did everything he was supposed to do in a professional manner.
#2) If you’ll notice, he actually gets up BEFORE the word Knickers is used and looks at his phone. That would seem to indicate that he got a phone call, not that he was offended.
#3) Additionally, since I’m not obsessed with race, I was actually paying attention to the performance, not the crowd. However, I can tell you the person in question did everything he was supposed to do and stayed in the room until after the performance was over.
#4) Last but not least, Chris Loesch later told me that the tech actually came up to him after the performance and told him he thought they did a great job.
So, there’s what I know about the situation and my conclusion is that the song isn’t racist in any way, shape, or form.
Why don’t you watch it yourself and draw your own conclusions instead of relying on a bunch of liberal outlets that see racism in EVERYTHING that conservatives do to tell you what you should think about it?
All in all, despite the tech problems, I was really happy with the quality of the Red Carpet Blogger Awards, although the early slot ended up really hurting our attendance. Additionally, after it was over, I received one of the single, best compliments of my life. I had someone walk up to me and say,“I’ve been reading your blog for years & you’re why I’m a conservative.” It just does not get much better than that.
After the event, guess who I ran across walking through the hall?
After they went off the air, I heard West tell Tantaros..
Great CPAC 2012 Lines #2: “Tell Bob Beckel to leave me alone or I’ll take him on a 7 mile run.” — Allen West
After I ran across West and Tantaros, take a look at who I saw next doing an interview.
Soon thereafter, the Occupy astroturfers ($60 a head) showed up outside the hotel and were quickly and effectively neutralized by the police except for a small group that walked in and yelled something incoherent in a hallway for a short period of time before security hustled them away.
Later that night, I went roaming around with my pal, Megan Carpentier. We ran into Marcia Morrisey, Ed Morrissey, and Tina Korbe.
Afterwards, we decided to hit an event at Fred Karger’s suite. Karger is a gay Republican who’s running for President, who claims CPAC is discriminating against him by refusing to let him buy a booth. Whatever the case may be, I think he got a lot better mileage out of having an event with free booze.
After parting ways with Megan, who was ready to hit the hay, I headed over to Dustin Stockton’s karaoke event at Club Heaven and Hell. People seemed to be having a lot of fun, the club looked AMAZING, and the the attendance was strong, but I don’t have as many pics as I’d like because my camera doesn’t function all that well in low light situations.
 Brent Teichman, Molly Teichman, Breeanne Howe, Ben Howe
 Tiffiny Ruegner and Kris Hall The Tea Party.net are singing “You’re So Vain” and pointing at someone who must have been directly behind me for reasons unknown.
After spending awhile at Club Heaven and Hell, I headed back to my hotel to work on my presentation for my Social Media Mastery panel the next day and to do some more work for CPAC. The Internet was so bad at the Marriott Waldman that I could get more done in an hour at 2 AM than I was able to do in 3 to 4 hours onsite.
Day 4: CPAC Exhaustion At this point you’re probably thinking, “He sounds like he was pretty busy.” True, but what I’ve written doesn’t convey the extent of it. Let me give you some information that will help fill in the gaps. Keep in mind that I did a tremendous amount of work for CPAC IN ADDITION to everything else that’s being mentioned here. That’s on the work side. On the physical side is where things get a little more hairy.
Because soda is expensive and you have to wait in line to get it, water comes in tiny cups, and people tend to be constantly on the move, it’s surprisingly easy to get dehydrated at CPAC if you don’t pay attention. I didn’t focus enough on my fluid intake and spent large chunks of Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4 dehydrated.
During days 1, 2, and 3, I also managed to get a grand total of 13 hours sleep. That’s tough under any circumstances. However, I can add an extra data-point because I use a fantastic little tool called Fitbit. So, I can tell you that over the first 3 days of CPAC, I walked roughly 18 miles, most of it in business shoes that weren’t all that comfortable in the first place.
By the final day, the first thought that came into my mind when I woke up was, “I’m exhuasted.” And I was. My feet hurt and I was actually so tired that I was physically ill. I didn’t quite realize how bad it was myself until I saw pics of me that day and noticed that my eyes seemed like they were half closed all day long.
Still, I’m not an Occupy bum. I work for a living and like the postman, I always try to deliver. So I staggered into CPAC, on time, and did what I had to do.
Great CPAC 2012 Lines #3: “When I told my dad I wanted an allowance, he asked me, ‘How much are you going to pay me for food & the roof I put over your head?'” — Bobby Jindal
Part of that included a Social Media Mastery panel that I did with Tabitha Hale and Melissa Clouthier. The panel was sponsored by The Tea Party.net and it went really well. We filled the room, we got to cover some more advanced topics instead of sticking to the more basic “How do you Tweet” questions, and we had some different perspectives on a few issues which is helpful for people to hear.
Great CPAC 2012 Lines #4: “Massachusetts is your bitchy spinster telling you to sit up straight.” — Tucker Carlson
I spent most the time during the final day at CPAC back in the “war room” updating content for the
I got a few snaps and then settled in to do some more work for CPAC. Actually, Saturday was the best day to do that because a lot of the best speeches and panels happened to be on the last day.
Also, just to add a little levity, the Occupiers came back to protest again and they were hit with a flash snowstorm. Heh. Heh. Heh.
Great CPAC 2012 Lines #5: Snowing at CPAC. #racism — Caleb Howe
CPAC turned out to be surprisingly full on the final day — and there was a reason for that. Palin was the closing speaker.
The atmosphere was electric, the main hall, which had been set up with extra chairs, filled way over capacity and the crowd waited with bated breath for Palin to take the stage.
And guess what? She KILLED from on stage like she was in a helicopter hunting wolves. She was funny, she was tough, she was bold and she went after Obama like he was trying to take away her moose hunting license.
Great CPAC 2012 Lines #6:“Obama has a jobs plan to win the future. WTF? I know, and I’m the idiot?” — Sarah Palin.
Some Occupiers who snuck into the crowd tried to shout her down. She led the crowd in chants of USA, USA, USA until they were hauled off. It was a dominant performance that you can and should watch here.
Oh, and you will not be able to guess who unexpectedly showed up in the CPAC war room?
After the Palin speech, I did a little more work, but was so tired that I could barely stand. So, I decided to call it an early night. By 7:30, I was in bed and I wasn’t up until 13 hours later. Even though I had to crash early on the final night, it was a raucous CPAC and if you missed it, that is a shame.
Great CPAC 2012 Lines #7:“”God bless you! Go home and fight.” — The final words of CPAC, spoken over the microphone by Al Cardenas
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