By Diane Bitter
Undoubtedly, most of you watched the amazing speakers on the stage at the 2021 convention of the Conservative Political Action Committee. We hope that your experience at home was as exhilarating to you as it was to us in person! Each dynamic speaker was welcomed with cheers and prolonged applause.
To name a few of our favorites speakers: Sen. Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Jr., James O’Keefe, Gov. Ron DeSantis, Gov. Kristi Noam, Pete Hegseth, Gov. Scott Walker, Mike Pompeo, Charlie Kirk, Tom Fitton, Don Bongino, and many more . . . (see our extended list at the bottom of this report).
By far, the MOST exciting speaker of the event was President Donald J. Trump! The former President’s hour-plus speech was the crowning touch to this fantastic experience. Especially because he told us all the things we hoped to hear, including hints about a re-run.
Of course, the tributes to Rush Limbaugh were emotional and heartfelt. Rush’s numerous accomplishments were acknowledged by many, including President Trump.
We invite you to check out the CPAC archives for specifics about each of the speeches delivered during these 5 days in Orlando. To shift gears now, here are a few insights into what happened “on the ground.”
The 2021 convention was very different from past years. Due to the restrictions caused by the corona virus, the Gaylord Convention Center in MD, just outside of D.C., where CPAC’s annual convention is usually held, was closed. An alternate location was secured in Orlando, FL, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. As a result, the size of the event was restricted to a smaller number and the main ballroom could not hold all of the attendees. The guideline for social distancing further prohibited the seating, and a large number of attendees were assigned to “overflow” rooms, where they viewed the activity on the main stage via projection screens.
The first order of business was to get our official badges, and then line up for the daily “temperature screening” before being given permission to enter the convention areas. Masks were also required at all times. Thankfully, NO incidents of covid-19 occurred during the 5 days of the convention, which cheated the media of the opportunity to criticize CPAC for organizing this huge operation. In addition to the spacing in the meeting rooms, many events were held outside – another plus of holding the event in Florida.
On our first day, attempting to locate anything to eat in this huge hotel proved extremely challenging. Of course, we discovered that the cause of this problem was that the hotel had been on shut-down until only a few days prior to opening up for our event.
We quickly got over this problem and found other solutions. On the whole, the entire experience was one of exhilaration and uplifting optimism. Being surrounded 24/7 with like-minded, enthusiastic conservatives was a welcome experience. The attendees ranged from all over the US and everyone was friendly and cooperative.
On the second night in Orlando we joined forces with RNC Committeeman, Chris Ager, and Sandy Geisler to host a reception for New Hampshire’s CPAC attendees. We entertained 25+ people at that gathering. Some of the attendees included some new friends, such as several RNC Committee members from other states.
The Ballrooms, Radio Row, and the Hub (vendors) were crowded and very busy, and we probably missed several of our “old” NH friends on our first day there; however, know that NH was well-represented at CPAC 2021.
We were, of course, eager to re-connect with many CPAC “regulars” — and were very pleased to engage Senator Ted Cruz (big hugs all around), James O’Keefe from Project Veritas, Nick Adams from Foundation for Liberty and American Greatness, Trevor Loudon, author of “The Enemies Within” and the film by the same title, Corey Lewandowski, Dave Bosse, and many others. During our group dinner one night, Trevor told us about his new book coming out in April in which he discloses some insights about V.P. Kamala Harris. Can’t wait to read that!
Between speakers, and while the stage was being “reset” with mics and stools and podiums, etc., we saw amazing ads produced by various conservative groups. Noteworthy was one by a Japanese author and film-maker whose basic message was to promote Liberty! Another was a clip from the event that CPAC held in Korea, where there is a very active CPAC organization.
Radio Row was in full swing all day, every day – with interviews constantly in production. All of the major networks were represented, taking up the entire space in the lobby the length of the main ballroom, with two rows of media booths.
The “Hub” – the huge space where the vendors set up their displays to promote their agenda and messages, was a long trek from the meeting rooms, so they didn’t have as many visitors as in past years. However, Fran picked up a bunch of “goodies” there and also did a bit of shopping.
As always, a poll was taken during the convention, with the results announced at the end of the final day. No doubt you heard what the media’s report on this poll; but, as usual, they “twisted” the results. So don’t pay any attention to their report. Take it from us – the CPAC attendees were in full support of Donald Trump for the GOP nominee for President in the 2024 General Election.
And speaking of the media, after the convention, obviously searching for something negative to say, they reported that the stage design on the main stage was a nazi symbol of some sort. This was a surprise to all of us who were there! No one noticed this or made a reference! To do so was an extreme stretch of the imagination. It was a stunning set design and not in any way a reference to naziism.
To continue the list of our favorite speakers, from above: Sen. Tom Cotton, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, Sen. Josh Hawley, Sen. Mike Lee, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Sen. Marco Rubio, Rep. Matt Gaetz, Rep. Jim Jordan, Rep. David Nunez, KT McFarland, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Pam Bondi, Dan Bongino, Dana Loesch, Jason Chaffetz, and many, many, more . . .
In conclusion, we came away sleep-deprived, but greatly enhanced with new friends, new ideas, and renewed enthusiasm and commitment. We urge you to attend next year and find out for yourselves.
Fran Wendleboe and Diane Bitter
Board of Directors, The 603 Alliance