Around mid-day Friday when dozens of people started streaming into the Potomac Ballroom at CPAC, I assumed that it was in anticipation of Rand Paul’s speech. There are always a lot of young Republicans/Libertarians at CPAC and they love the Pauls. But what I was witnessing possibly, was the arrival of the Bush Brigades.
It sounds like Jeb Bush’s supporters are taking CPAC pretty seriously this year. Emails provided to Slate show that backers of the former Florida governor are busing supporters from downtown Washington D.C. to CPAC in National Harbor, Maryland, and organizing to get them day passes into the event.
One of the emails that went out this morning was from Fritz Brogan, a former advance man for then-President George W. Bush who (per the Washington Post) co-hosted a fundraiser for Jeb’s Right to Rise PAC earlier this month. A Bush insider confirmed to Slate that Bush’s Right to Rise PAC is helping organize the transportation.
“We strongly recommend arriving as early as possible to get a seat,” wrote Brogan in an email sent to undisclosed recipients. “Our ‘Early Rise’ team will be there at 7:30am onward helping reserve seats- if you want to join the early team, let me know.”
During Sean Hannity’s talk, Friday morning, he conducted an impromptu straw poll by calling out the names of all of the candidates, and encouraging their supporters to applaud. Judging from the huge ovation Rand Paul received, he was the top choice. Scott Walker came in a close second. But the names Chris Christie and Jeb Bush when called out by Hannity, inspired nothing but loud boos.
By Jeb Bush’s speech at around 2:00 in the afternoon, the room had filled with Jeb Bush supporters and had been transformed into a pro-Bush venue.
Here’s Jeb’s speech. It wasn’t half bad to be honest.