cpac 2013 dispatch

Mitt Romney Loses Again, to Lunch

Former Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney delivers remarks during the second day of the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) March 15, 2013 in National Harbor, Maryland. The American conservative Union held its annual conference in the suburb of Washington, DC, to rally conservatives and generate ideas.
Romney is no match for the desire to eat lunch at this very moment. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Mitt Romney’s speech at CPAC this afternoon — his first since the election — hit a lot of themes you might expect: America, Romney proclaimed, must remain “the most prosperous and free and powerful nation on earth” unless we want our “primary rivals for world leadership — China, Russia, and the Jihadists — ” to take over. (We’re not sure how “jihadists” can be considered rivals for “world leadership,” but just go with it.) We must rise to the challenge and work together to guarantee our future. “I am sorry that I will not be your president.” The end.

Romney’s speech may have been one of the most highly anticipated of the three-day convention — but not for everyone. Downstairs at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, far from the main ballroom where Romney was radiating patriotic optimism, a woman named Rachel explained why she was missing out on this rare public appearance from the man who, only months ago, was the GOP’s nominee for president. 

I’m just hungry,” she said.

This turned out to be a common refrain among those who skipped Romney’s speech.

Richard Land, a high-ranking official in the Southern Baptist Church, was sitting in front of a mostly empty plate at a table inside the National Pastime Sports Bar. “I had lunch,” he said when asked why he didn’t watch Romney’s speech. “And I’m speaking at three o’clock.”

A few tables over, a gentleman named Vince, who was eating lunch with his wife, told me that he “intended to [see the speech], but it was running an hour behind, and our granddaughter was so hungry.” So it wasn’t that he just wasn’t interested in hearing Romney’s speech? “Well,” Vince replied, “it could have been some of that, too.”

At the bar, a woman named Jackie struggled to explain why she was sipping a Bloody Mary with her friend instead of listening to Romney. “I have no good reason for you,” she told me. “I really don’t.”