CPAC Recap: Day three 

 Notes from the final day of CPAC:

- Today clearly featured the “everyone else” for political speakers.  Thursday and Friday featured nationally known and regularly followed speakers such as Representative  Paul Ryan (WI) and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty while Saturday had former Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton and Representative Connie Mack (Fla.). It’s not that these speakers weren’t interesting per se, but seriously how many people do you know that get excited over Connie Mack?

- Maybe it was a relative lack of interesting speakers, maybe it was the fact that it was a Saturday and they had better things to do, or maybe it was the toll of 48 hours of political speeches and parties (one of which had a gigantic Reagan cake) but whatever the reason, this was the least attended day of CPAC. I estimate that today’s attendance was only half of yesterday's.

- Paul won the straw poll for the second year in a row. Paul managed to steal the show for second day in a row, and he didn’t even have to be in the building to do it. The crowd was packed with his supporters for the announcement, and they screamed like they had won the actual Republican nomination. We’ll see if this manages to translate to anything in 2012 when many expect Paul to once again run for President. 

-  Swag was depressingly low. I finally got to make the full rounds today of all the booths pushing various wares and causes hoping to score some sweet swag. Unfortunately my efforts amounted to very little. A few assorted candies and a tote bag from the NRA booth were all that I ended up that with (and I had to sign up for a newsletter to get the bag). Even when I tried to show off my media badge in the hopes of being bribed, my efforts met with failure. Maybe next year I’ll pretend to be a speaker and see how that works.

- John Bolton’s mustache is even more glorious in real life. While the picture on his wikipedia page can help get an idea, nothing can compare to the real life experience of Bolton’s mustache. It’s gotten to the point where it could even give Tom Selleck a run for his money. And as hard as it was to pay attention to Bolton’s words about Egypt and his the likelihood of him running for President in 2012, and not his mustache, I managed to pull it off.

- And finally, the main talking point today was national defense. While deficit reduction and repealing Obamacare dominated the previous two days' speeches, national defense took center stage today. Connie Mack, John Bolton and Ann Coulter all dedicated a significant portion of their speeches to the subject. There was also a panel on nuclear policy concerning China and North Korea and an event entitled “How to Think About Afghanistan” that took place on the main stage. Their message in a nutshell: “Don’t reduce military spending,  you should probably increase military spending in fact, and we can get the money for this spending by decreasing entitlement spending.”

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