The morning/afternoon dynamic that governs all convention-appearance schedules (i.e., the later you go the better the house will be) has a special significance at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Many speakers are aiming to make a national splash; all are hoping to look good on camera; and both goals are easier to attain if you’ve got a big audience.
Speakers who got the short end of this year’s schedule include Senator Ted Cruz, Texas governor Rick Perry, and Representative Michele Bachmann, who delivered strong addresses before many attendees had rolled out of bed. Schedule winners included Senator Rand Paul, Dr. Ben Carson, former senator Rick Santorum, and the beloved comedy team of Mickey Kaus and Ann Coulter, all of whom played to large, carbo-loaded, after-lunch crowds.
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, fresh off a 9:36 a.m. panel on Saturday, viewed the spare crowds at CPAC with the equanimity of a show business trouper.
“It seems fine,” Priebus told National Review Online when asked about attendance. “I’ve only been here this morning and a little bit yesterday.”