Half the time I venture out to another venue here in this huge hotel, I get turned around. So much of both the hotel and this city are laid out in circular pattern and it's counterintuitive for me.
Coming into the home stretch now. Still to come are Newt Gingrich at 2:00 PM, the new Virginia Governor, Bob McDonnell after him, Colonel Allen West at 4:15, Then Glenn Beck at 6:00. Not sure I'll be staying for Beck - see how I'm feeling then. Two consecutive late nights in the lounge are taking their toll on me and I might call my old friend, Dave Morine, early. I'm going to have to find my way through the subway system to a certain stop and he'll pick me up. It's treacherous driving around this city with all the snow piled up everywhere. Many streets are down to one lane. I'm staying with Dave and his lovely wife, Ruth, in Great Falls, VA tonight and flying home tomorrow.Smitty and Crowder
Lots of people come and go here in the bloggers' lounge. PJTV's Kevin Crowder just came through and my new friend Smitty of "The Other McCain" blog asked me to take a picture with him and Crowder. Then someone obliged me to get a shot with him. I show a lot of "Louder with Crowder" clips to my students. He's a sketch.Me and Crowder
Gingrich will be coming on any minute. I remember last year, he didn't enter stage right or left. He came in with an entourage up the center aisle with "Eye of The Tiger" playing loudly - as if he were about to enter the ring and defend his title. It was great. We'll see what he does this year in a few seconds.Newt entering the room
Yup. He did it again.
Newt approaching the podium
The crowd sounds like it's booing, but it's shouting "Newt! Newt!" He isn't using the teleprompter and he's not using notes. He's the smartest Republican leader out there in my opinion. I would never want to be his opponent in a debate. I don't always agree with him, but I've got to respect him.He's drafting a "Contract From America" that, as of now, has 22 points. He's asking for feedback to bring it down to ten, like he did in his "Contract with America" back in 1994 when he took over the House.
Can't type fast enough. Among other things, he said the City of New York spends $50 million a year to maintain a "rubber room" of teachers who have been declared incompetent, but are waiting out the process of being fired by getting full pay and sitting in the rubber room every day reading books, knitting, or whatever. And each one is there an average of seven years, during which time they are accumulating larger pensions. Outrageous.
As I said yesterday, there are candidates coming through the bloggers' lounge all the time. Advance people come through first passing out literature. Patrick Murray is a recently-retired army colonel who happens to be running in Dave Morine's district nearby here.Me and Colonel Murray
I told him I was from Maine, but I'd be staying with a slightly left-of-center friend in his district tonight, and what could I say to him that might get him to consider voting for you? Well, he explained his position on deficit spending. He said we're now at the point where our interest payment on the debt - $600 billion annually - is exceeding the defense budget. Well, that nailed it. If there's anyone who might be cheaper than I am, it's Dave. He's most generous with family and friends, but quite frugal with everything else.
Colonel Murray knew the answer to my signature question I've asked six presidential candidates two years ago: "Who is the 12th imam, or "Mahdi"? Only two of the six knew it in 2008, but Murray answered it right off. He explained that Ahmadinejad believes he can bring the imam out of the well and rule over the world in the end times. Bravo Colonel Murray. He also chuckled when he read my business card with "Heterosexual White Guy Journalists Association" printed prominently in the middle. I'll make my pitch for Murray to Dave and Ruth over dinner tonight.Okay, Colonel Alan West - another good man running for congress in Florida - is addressing CPAC and the house is packed. "Join me in a dream that will preserve the legacy of this great republic for our children and our grandchildren," he just said, and the crowd responded vigorously. He's a very good speaker. The crowd likes him. I hope he wins.
As I go to iPhoto and download images for the past few days, I see a recent shot of my 5-month-old granddaughter, Claire, and my heart swells. I'm reminded of what the most important things are and that I'm a very lucky man.I love Claire
This is my fourth day in the city and I'm lonesome for home. It's exciting here, but I'm always reminded of why I left urban life 33 years ago. I love Maine and I'm homesick. Thinking now that I'll skip Glenn Beck and try to navigate the DC subway system before 10,000 people rush out of this building.
That's all from CPAC 2010. It's been grand.