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Right now, about 10,000 Iowa Republicans are reclining in red, hard-backed chairs here in the Hilton Coliseum. They have two choices for the rest of the afternoon. They can sit through a five hour program of musical acts and videos interspersed with candidate speeches or they can brave the 100 degree heat.

The NRA's ubiquitous Wayne LaPierre was the first formal speaker -- he's always the first speaker at events like these -- and regaled the Iowans with tales about how the NRA defeated the gun-hating left and the gun-detesting media. (Newt Gingrich was in the hall but he was ignoring LaPierre, holding court instead with a media scrum.)

Talk show host Laura Ingraham is the host. She made an obligatory crack at the New York Times, sucked up to the audience, bashed Washington, D.C., and set a lightly partisanal tone for the rest of the afternoon. "I want to welcome you to the Iowa edition of American Idol," she said.

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