Who does this guy think he is – the President?!
Last Friday morning, I woke up at 4am to watch President Bush speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference in DC. This was the day after Mitt Romney announced that he was dropping out of the GOP race, and John McCain gave his first speech as more or less the Republican party’s de facto nominee. So what was a dramatic day on Thursday (and also included a speech by VP Dick Cheney) was followed by a super-early one. Up at 4am, and going through Secret Service clearance by 5am. Bush was originally supposed to speak immediately before my emceeing stint, and it would have been nice to say hello to him, but apparently he had to blow town — or something.
Emceeing at the convention was fun. Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) wrapped up his speech ahead of schedule, so I ended up having to fill some time. I did so by coming up with political trivia questions off the top of my head — and fortunately, I brought along some “CIA Center For Aquatic Excellence: Waterboarding Team” t-shirts to give out as prizes.
(BTW, I have a few of these Waterboarding Team shirt sizes left – from M to XXL. They’re $20, so drop me a line at rachel-at-rachelmarsden-dot-com, if you’re interested)
Here were some of the questions I asked:
1) What was the name of Ronald Reagan’s favourite horse? (Since no one knew the answer off the bat, I hinted that it was an ARABIC name, at which point you could hear an audible gasp from the crowd. It’s okay, people! The horse wasn’t a terrorist or anything!) Anyway, the answer to the question is “El Alamein” — which someone eventually got.
El Alamein: Arabic, but probs not a terrorist.
2) What’s the name of Ronald Reagan’s ranch? (Someone guessed “Ranch In The Sky”, which is correct, but the actual name it goes by is “Rancho del Cielo”. Sounds a bit like a place that might employ los illegales, no? But I gave out t-shirts for both answers.)
3) What’s the name of the worst Democratic president in US history? (EVERYONE had their hand up for this one, but the guy I chose to answer said, “Woodrow Wilson”. Which is correct — and there would have been no incorrect answers to this question, as long as the person named was, in fact, a Democratic president.)
The only other thing that struck me about CPAC this year was that so many folks who took the stage to speak chewed out John McCain. Dude had already split, so I’m not sure he was paying attention. Maybe a phone call to him would have worked better — and been less of a detriment to the GOP’s campaign for the presidency.
Then again, I think the die-hard wingers in the party (ie. the ones who really dislike McCain and don’t feel that he’s “conservative” enough) are staking out their positions early, thinking that if he implodes because he doesn’t abide by conservative principles, then at least they’ll be able to say that they never backed him as a “true conservative” in the first place. Interesting strategy — but certainly not mine. I don’t share the view that McCain would make a bad leader. He may not pass every conservative litmus test, but I think he’s got his head on right when it comes to the issues that really matter: the economy (ie. supporting making Bush’s tax cuts permanent) and the war on terrorism.