I've been too busy to blog much today, but as I hope to be covering the Ron Paul speech, it seems important to first provide a bit of relevant background.
Two years ago at CPAC, Ron Paul's presidential campaign didn't even have a booth. After Mitt Romney dropped from the race, his staffers offered their booth to the Ron Paul supporters who had showed at the event.
Two years later, various Ron Paul related organizations now occupy most of a full row of exhibit booths. As opposed to 2008, there are now a lot of young, clean cut, polite, well-spoken supporters representing a variety of groups. They are the ones most likely to ask passersby for contact information, inform people of upcoming events or manage to smile and get a piece of literature in someone's hand. Their general part of the movement is the most organized group of people I've seen at CPAC, so far.
From what I've seen so far, they are an army of young liberty lovers hoping to politely persuade conservatives at CPAC to return to their conservative/libertarian values. One sign of their professionalism this time around is that I've not heard the term "neocon" used even once.
Like any CPAC, I've seen plenty of spontaneous interviews which turn into press conferences. I just ran into the largest of these earlier today. I had to move close enough to see who the current rock star was. It was Paul.
Leading up to Paul, former Congressman Barr and former Governor Gilmore received (what, IMO) is an unprecedented level of applause (and one moment of jeers) when engaging in the semi-traditional debate over security versus liberty. A student speaker with Students for Liberty received some boos over support of GOProud, but a very loud level of applause over all. A speaker a few minutes later spoke against GOProud, and I heard the loudest boos of the day.
It's impossible to cover this CPAC without covering the Ron Paul and libertarian angle. They are clearly a force to be reckoned with this year and to cover CPAC and miss this part of this story is to miss some of the flavor of CPAC 2010.
In the early introductions for Ron Paul, there were some boos and then the crowd broke into cheering "End the Fed, End the Fed!"
An introductory "non-aggressionist foreign policy" line broke into a mix of boos and yeas. The rest of the speaker's sentence was drowned out.
Strong applause from everyone on the Audit the Fed bill.
Paul received a prolonged standing ovation when he walked on stage.
"It sounds to me like the Revolution is alive and well," Paul began to another round of cheers.
"By the end of this year, I think America is going to be a lot better off.," Paul predicted, talking about issues ranging from Tea Party to recent Republican victories.
"We want balanced budgets, we want our liberties back," Paul explained.
Paul received overwhelming applause and a minor standing ovation when he stated that the true conservative position is to get out of the United Nations."
When Paul suggested that we should end the Federal Reserve system, the crowd broke into "End the Fed, End the Fed" again.
"Strong national defense, but not go to war so carelessly" received a fair amount of applause. Paul called for a full constitutional declaration of war next time. While some people in the audience obviously disagreed, there were no boos. They may have simply being tired of being over-shouted.
"Preach it, Ron," a member of the audience shouted as Paul defended Eugene Debs' right to protest a war.
There were mixed cheers and boos when Paul used the word "neoconservative."
Paul spent some time defending President Eisenhower's foreign policy.
"Our lives come from our Creator and our liberties come from our Creator," Paul said.
"You have liberty because you are an individual and that should be protected."
Starting wars because someone "might do something to us" received mixed cheers and jeers.
Paul spoke about individual liberties and chastised stimulus plans and bailouts.
He stated that the GOP used to win elections by saying that we aren't the policeman to the world.
Paul reminded the audience that he had more support from members of the military than any of the other candidates during the presidential campaign.
He also mentioned that the economic crash he predicted during the campaign happened and then took a jab at Fox News because suddenly they want him on the air frequently now.
"We have to allow freedom of expression. That will bring us together," Paul said to another healthy level of applause.
They played We Will Rock You as Paul walked off stage.
"Ron Paul 2012" were the last words I heard being yelled as I walked back to Blogger's Row.