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The usual introduction: yep, I'm here at CPAC. Here's a not so brief photo diary to give you a feel for the place, and I've added my own notes about what's been going on.

Old political buttons for sale at CPAC 2013
Buttons for sale.
Lots of pics, below the fold.

Tea Partier in full Revolutionary War regalia
A tea partier, dressed in full Revolutionary War regalia. He has attended each day in full gear and carrying a large Don't Tread on Me flag. He's the only one, or close to it; while there are some others in unconventional gear, the preferred costume for the event is a full business suit. Lots, and lots, and lots of them.
Tea Party News Network booth at CPAC 2013
From radio row (which, inconveniently, is crammed right next to the main event ballroom, causing severe traffic jams before and after every major speaker.) There are a number of polished, slick-looking booths for conservative-only media outlets like this one, the Tea Party News Network.
NRA target practice booth at CPAC 2013
The NRA has a big presence on the speaking lists, but a surprisingly modest presence in the exhibit hall. This is the NRA target practice booth, where you can try your hand at shooting (standard, round) targets at various virtual distances. Yes, that's a fake gun, which makes all these people wimps. A real American would have a real target range in the middle of the exhibit hall, you pansies.
Booth at CPAC 2013: Napolitano 2016
A very lonely booth indeed is the from the "committee" to draft Judge Napolitano as a 2016 presidential candidate. I don't even know what they're thinking on this one. Most of the booths are fairly modest and very lightly populated.
Game at CPAC 2013:
An arcade game carrying the title "Mine, Dig and Drill America Back to Prosperity." Those are little toy globes. And that's all I'm going to say about that.
Shirts for sale at CPAC 2013:
Keep Calm and Fight Socialism, that middle shirt says. I've gotta say, none of the people here talking about socialism have seemed very calm about it at all. Far from it!

In past years, CPAC has had trouble with vendors selling, er, controversial things. This year seems to have brought tighter controls—or, perhaps, stronger warnings—and aside from bumper stickers with slogans like "Save the Males" or "Fight Crime: Shoot First", most of the merchandise (like this) is unabashedly conservative, but, what's the word? More conventional? Not as far-far right as it could be? Maybe I'm just jaded at this point.

Media section at CPAC 2013
The media section in the main hall is enormous, spanning nearly half the room, front to back, and taking up the entire center section. It's huge, and as you can see, well-populated. These are the people who get to hear speakers complain about how the media just isn't listening to the conservative point of view.

Cameras are omnipresent, though most of the cameras doing constant interviews in the main lobby do seem to be from conservative organizations mostly interviewing attendees, important in-movement folks and each other.

Mitt Romney speaking at CPAC 2013
Mitt Romney speaking to a full room. The room is long and wide. The front center below him is reserved for VIP audience members, meaning members who have paid the $1,000-per-head ticket price (the three-day fee for non-VIPs is about $200, but that doesn't get you into the dinner speeches by the big speakers.) Behind that, the media section takes up all the rest of the center space, leaving most of the rest of the audience with a bit of a distant (and sideways) view.

I hear there's a picture going around of the half-empty room when Donald Trump was up to speak. A good part of that may have been the pre-9am hour; they certainly gave him the crappiest speaking slot of the day, which makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

CPAC 2013 convention hall, mostly empty
The same room photographed from the same position five to 10 minutes after Romney concluded his speech. The next panel in the room was the pro-life panel, and the audience, it is fair to say, left in droves. While there is a definite contingent of anti-abortion activists here, you will hear only the vaguest of mentions of it from most of the other speakers. The anti-abortion speakers that are here seem to be more, let's call it belligerent than any other sub-group, and stand out. The panelist in this case was going on about Planned Parenthood like it really did have an "Abortionplex". Did you know that Planned Parenthood made a bajillion dollars from abortions, and that it makes up the vast majority of everything they do? Neither did I.

More later, obviously, but this ought to give a fine feel for the place.

Originally posted to Hunter on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 02:09 PM PDT.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA and Daily Kos.

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