Des Moines, IA —GLOSSY NEWS With 2011 barely into its 4th month, House Tea Party Caucus leader Michele Bachmann whipped her Iowa audience into a frenzy over light bulbs, gay marriage and abortion with her stump “Social Conservatism is Physical Conservatism” keynote address.
She finished by advocating giving the GOP a new name and then said it must become the Social Tea Party. The name change was unanimously ratified by the 130 Iowans who paid to attend, thus trashing forever the old time party names, Republican and GOP.
Over 3,000 people attended the sell-out Steve King Conservative Principles Conference in Iowa. Of course there were those 130 Republican voters from Iowa who also cast their ballots for the ever-popular Iowa Straw Poll. The balance of the attendees were GOP Tea candidates, their staff, affiliates and sundry groupies — 2,873 to be exact. All candidates and staff, or their representatives were comped for the full event.
With so much upfront expense and needing the conference to break even, each Iowan – and all were required to buy a ticket to the event – had to pony up $2000 cash, plus the cost of 2 dinners and 2 lunches, another $500. It was a one-day affair, but being a Republican-run affair, every one had to pay for one another attendee’s meals. This allowed all the serious candidates, and their close staff, to mix with the Iowans who paid for them, at both lunch and dinner.
Attending candidates and wannabees: Newt arrived with 75 people in tow; Bachmann brought 85 with her; and Herman Cain, the straw poll winner showed up with 42, surprisingly the exact number of votes he got in the poll. Candidate PHuck (the P is silent) brought along a busload of 51. Haley Barbour paraded 500 S’sippians into the hall to much fanfare at the last minute. Most of whom brought their own lunch and dinner.
Non-attendees sent their troops in great numbers as well. Palin took down 200 comp tickets, Romney signed up for 170, Pawlenty sent 155 from Minnesota, across the border. They had previous appointments elsewhere, but made sure their representatives got the free meals and such.
There were persistent rumors that the Palin tickets were scalping for $3500, and of those, the VIP 50 that were autographed hit $5K each. The SarahPalinPAC had a sales booth, sponsored by VISA, at the front entry to the hall where attendees could either donate or buy conference tickets with a VISA card instead of cash. There were also stacks of books and T-shirts for sale to those who couldn’t afford to pay the entry. The only catch with Palin was that the attendees bring back doggie bags. It’s a well-known fact that Palin loves a good doggie bag.
The day-long Conference began with registration at 8:00 a.m. and the program at 9:00 a.m. Evening reception and banquet began at 5:00 p.m. with a VIP cocktail reception. One hour metered parking was available in the outside lot for $1/hr.
Other speakers were Newt Gingrich who chose “Life is Not Just About Money” as his topic, Haley Barbour chose “The Facebook and The Klan” as his topic, and Jim DeMint chose a subtly satirical “Banquet’s Rubber Chicken” as the in-person keynote topic. DeMint’s speech was sponsored by the Tyson Family of Fine Foods.
M-I-A contender, Palin, was abroad on her paid $100K foreign policy tour to India and Israel. She opted for a pre-recorded keynote address, a telephone video conference. Ms. Palin spoke of her speaking tour of India’s malls, including a matching group tour called “Bibi’s Israel”, as a side trip. She said that both country trips kept her in politically semi-serious contention as they all begin with the letter ‘I’. “Alphabetically, I have just done ‘H’ with my trip to Haiti celebrating their Earthquake Days. Boy, do they go realistic down there. You’d think they really did have an earthquake.
Anyway so, ‘I’ comes next. Hope you caught my wave over Iowa as I flew by a few days ago. My first outing was ‘A’ for Australia, if you remember. Now I’m on to “J, K, LMNO and P — some of the finest countries in our world. By the end of the year 2011, I plan on being finished with my touring duties. Those ‘Z’ countries are a cause for thinking ahead, but this builds foreign policy like nothing else around. Visiting, comparing life notes, checking prices in the malls, banqueting at night. Be sure you join me on Facebook now and see my Places I’ve Been map there,” she smiled, “and don’t forget those doggie bags.”
Palin’s pre-taped video speech, was a first for the veteran speaker. The audience was fully scripted. They were able to try interactive conferencing by following along with Ms. Palin’s speech script and adding in the cued responses, much like a taped TV sit-com. At times, there was truly emotional sounding loud cheering and applause by the entire group when signs lighted. But there were also separate real-time shout-outs by audience members. “You go girl,” “We love you Sarah,” and “Twenty-Twelve” were heard multiple times, the ’20/12′ one especially ended up becoming almost a spontaneous audience chant when cued and repeated as written. It was almost a wave, but with words.
The fun really began when, at the end of her speech, after the appropriate adoring applause, she said there was a little time for the real audience to ask any questions they had. Lots of hands went up to participate, but just 4 people were chosen to stand up and read their questions and hear back Ms. Palin’s answers, just like in a real large hall political event. Of course, Palin’s folks have the pre-staging down to a science by now.
It was all very realistic, even to the doubtful media covering the event. The media who surprised themselves when, with nothing else to do, lined up and interviewed the 4 lucky questioners after the speech ended. There wasn’t a different script for that, so the questioners just re-read their questions to the cameras and then tried to remember Sarah’s answers. No one came close to what she said for answers.
One of the questioners was almost breathless as she said, “I actually learned most of the alphabet from Sarah today! I’m so voting for her, she’s really intelligent. She’s really earned my doggie bag this evening.”