If any more proof was needed that CPAC organizers aren’t sweating the stories and photos about fringe conservatives making their way around the conference, behold: the John Birch Society. The notorious right-wing group signed on as a co-sponsor late last year, drawing some controversy at the time and… showing up anyway. If anything, the JBS — which has benefited immeasurably from the amazing political comeback of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), a longtime supporter — is being greeted with some smiles, some eye-rolls, and some conspiratorial winks. JBS’s Chris Bentley reflects on the conference so far:
One Washington Times reporter asked to take a picture of our booth as it was still under construction. We smiled and said yes. Then staff member Sam Antonio chimed in and told her to be sure and come back tomorrow, as we would have the best looking booth here. And, he added, with a little humor, “it will be the most controversial to boot.” She smirked and responded that we already are controversial.
On Thursday as we arrived to start the day’s events, the Marriott was already teeming with thousand of visitors. We’ve had many curious attendees stop by already, even though the day is barely half over. Some visitors have been congressional candidates from across the country, others from media. Some notable personalities have included such diverse individuals as Jerome Corsi and Rachel Maddow. Ms. Maddow even gave us an informal six-minute interview/discussion.
To understand just how much of a shift this represents for the mainstream right, consider — two years ago, RedState.com blasted Ron Paul for endorsing the “conspiracy nuts” of the JBS. One year ago, National Review’s John Derbyshire implied that it was a vile smear to connect Ron Paul to the Birchers. And yet here they are at CPAC, with a book I mention in my story today:
Why is that such a surprising find at CPAC? Answer here.