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Sights and sounds of CPAC

Michele Bachmann entered the CPAC arena to the tunes of Tom Jones’ “She’s A Lady,” a nod to when Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter told her to “act like a lady” on a Philadelphia talk radio show.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — I couldn’t fit everything interesting I saw at CPAC neatly into earlier coverage, so let’s just empty the reporter’s notebook. In no particular order:

  • Every major speaker was introduced with a song. The one played for Rep. Michele Bachmann? “She’s A Lady”, by Tom Jones (a not-so-subtle nod to an exchange between Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter and Bachmann, where Specter told her to “act like a lady”). Bachmann caught the reference, opening with the line: “Hi everybody, hello everyone, and thank you Senator Specter!”
  • A thought crossed my mind at that moment, though POLITICO’s Glenn Thrush blogged it first, that Jones’ song includes the line “she always knows her place.” I’ll confess to not being a big Tom Jones guy, so I don’t know quite what he was getting at there, but it struck me as ironic.
  • Staying on the song theme, Gov. Tim Pawlenty came out to U2’s “Beautiful Day.”
  • It seems like reaction to Pawlenty’s speech was a little different inside and outside of the Marriott Wardman Park. GOP 12, an excellent blog that focuses on high-flyers in the Republican Party, collected reaction from across the blogs and Twitterverse. Let’s just say the word “vanilla” gets used once or twice.
  • Minnesota First Lady Mary Pawlenty was at the speech. I caught up with her afterward and she seemed very happy with how her husband did. “It was completely terriffic,” she said. “I think this guy rocks.”
  • Bachmann didn’t get the loudest reaction today. Judging by just my ears, she came in a distant second to Texas Rep. Ron Paul (who received a thunderous ovation when he entered to Queen’s “We Will Rock You”).
  • CPAC was held at the Marriott Wardman Park, a AAA three-diamond D.C. hotel where rooms run about $250 a night. It’s billed by Marriott as in “downtown” D.C., which is a little misleading given that it’s actually well into the northwest quadrant of the city, near the National Zoo.
  • Several attendees decided to dress up in costume. Within 50 feet of Pawlenty, while he was speaking to talk radio hosts after his speech, stood a man dressed as Benjamin Franklin and person dressed up as a polar bear.

Most importantly for Election 2010 watchers, the crowd here at CPAC was as fired up as any I saw during the early part of President Obama’s 2008 campaign. It’s a group that doesn’t just believe that they’ll win big this fall, they expect it.