It's become a tradition. The day before the start of the Conservative Political Action Conference, volunteers gather in the main ballroom to put the blue bags -- swag bags -- together. Today, they had extra help. Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, stopped by the Marriott Wardman Park hotel and rallied the volunteers. How nice of him!
There is, of course, a straw poll, and one that will ask a good question: if the election were held today, who would you vote for? -- and Romney, one presumes, might want to get a jump start on his competition, which includes Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, former Sen. Rick Santorum, Rep. Mike Pence, former speaker Newt Gingrich and others. Romney won the CPAC straw poll in 2008, and it was interpreted by the press as evidence of his ability to organize. (It's always hard to tell where official Mitt world ends and volunteer Mitt world begins.) 10,000 conservative activists -- most of them establishment, College Republican, credentialed -- are slated to attend the three day convention, which begins Thursday. Glenn Beck delivers the keynote.
Fox., CNN, MSNBC and C-SPAN will provide live coverage of the event at various junctures; the networks will send unilateral cameras. A radio row, featuring top conservative talk show hosts, will provide wall-to-wall commentary. CPAC has become formulaic, but people pay attention to it, and a good speech here by a presidential candidate can provide momentum for fundraising.