11:30 AM Update: Vice President Cheney just finished his CPAC kick-off speech. He focused mainly on economic issues (music to my ears!) and national security. He spent a good chunk of time talking about why the Bush tax cuts should be made permanent, which went over very well with the crowd.
11:40 AM Update: Someone just walked by bloggers’ row with free samples of “Leninade” (a mock Soviet lemonade?). Consensus is that it’s surprising tasty for a product named after Vladimir Lenin.
1:00 PM Update: My former colleagues from the Bucknell University Conservatives Club just visited me on bloggers’ row, which clearly makes me happy. They also gave me the scoop on which booths have the best free stuff, so after Romney is done speaking, I’ll be on the hunt for fun giveaways.
1:14 PM Update: Romney just announced he is suspending his campaign.
1:57 PM Update: Lots of good free stuff this year. Lot so great speakers, sure. But I’m a sucker for free stuff. Plastic cups are all the rage this year — I spotted at least 5 booths giving them out. Nearly all the booths have free candy, but some have gone above and beyond. In a quick lap around the exhibition hall I picked up the following gems: a plastic (glow in the dark!) basketball hoop and ball, a few mini-Sharpes, a Dick Armey t-shirt, a “Don’t Tax Me Bro” bracelet, a pig mask/snout (something to do with government pork? They didn’t really explain the significance), and a Sam Adams bobble-head doll.
2:45 PM Update: Dick Armey is speaking now. I’d wear my Dick Armey t-shirt, but that would be tacky. Like wearing the t-shirt of a band you are seeing in concert. Nobody wants to be “that guy.”
2:52 PM Update: Cong. Jeff Flake just walked by bloggers’ row! It’s my first CPAC celebrity sighting outside of the main room.
4:42 PM Update: The first day of CPAC is wrapping up, as Rep. Ron Paul delivers the last speech of the day in the main ballroom. Tomorrow’s schedule is packed full of goodness. I’ll have live reports on speeches from: President Bush, Wayne LaPierre, Rep. Mike Pence, Amb. John Bolton and much more. Stay tuned.