Among the first new people I met at CPAC this year was someone who grew up in my hometown (Nashville). We would have gone to the same high school but I’m a couple of decades older. I also met someone who grew up in one of the towns where Mrs. Hoge and I had lived in California. In fact, when she was in middle school, she lived on the next street over and about two blocks down from us.
It’s a small world after all.
There’s a lot of speechifying at CPAC, and some of it’s worth hearing, but I spend most of my time networking and developing background information for future posts. I spent most of my time today on the floor of the exhibit hall, on broadcast row (where talk radio outlets are set up doing interviews), and in the lobby bar. One recurring theme I heard today was about outreach to minority voters and especially about bring black voters back into the Republican party.
I live in a far suburb of DC which is in range of WCSP-FM, C-SPAN’s local FM station, so during the drive home this evening I was able to listen to President Trump’s speech at a rally in South Carolina. His opening seemed almost like a standup comedy routine; he was clearly having a good time with a friendly audience. Toward the end of the speech, he made a pitch targeted explicitly at black voters which he ended by reminding everyone that the Republicans are the party of Lincoln. The crowd, a South Carolina crowd, erupted in cheers and applause.
The Republican Party has changed since I was growing up in the ’50s.
And so has South Carolina.
The big deal of the day was a speech by Vice-President Pence. It was well received, and there’s lots of coverage about it elsewhere.
When I was involved in the pro audio equipment industry, I would sit at a table in the lobby bar of the convention hotel for various trade shows and buy drinks for other engineers, often from competitors. I picked up lots of useful trade information that way—and made some good friends as well. I do something similar at CPAC. I take a table in the Lobby Bar at the Gaylord Convention Center about an hour or so before they start serving, and as the place begins to fill up, I invite people to join me. Among the folks at or near my table this afternoon were several Republican political operatives, and their discussions about the relative pros and cons of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact were the most interesting things I heard today.
One group believes that the Compact would be beneficial to Republicans because it will create an additional incentive for Republican voters to turn out on election day, and these folks see that as being helpful for candidates down the ballot. I understand their reasoning, but I’m not convinced.
I pointed out that I expect Donald Trump to actually win the popular vote in November, but still lose California. The Compact won’t be in effect for this election, but the Democrats in the California legislature will be presented with a scenario that would have caused the state to gives its electoral votes to a candidate who a) didn’t win the state and b) is from the wrong party. If Trump wins the national popular vote and loses California in November, I’ve bet a bottle of scotch that the California legislature will vote to leave the Compact before the end of the year. One of the pro-compact guys told me that that couldn’t happen, that it was illegal, that there was no escape clause. However, the text of the compact explicitly says, “Any member state may withdraw from this agreement[.]”
Buy more popcorn.
And stay tuned.