The Tea Party's choice in the Florida Republican primary, Marco Rubio, began his address to a crowd of conservative conventioneers by taking a shot at President Obama for reading from a teleprompter. He did it while standing in front of two easily visible teleprompters.
It was unclear whether the devices were placed there for him or for other speakers at the Conservative Political Action Committee conference, or CPAC, at which he was a keynote speaker. A HuffPost reporter, however, watched his speech from the front row and Rubio could clearly be seen looking intently and repeatedly at the teleprompters. He also had a stack of papers with him at the lectern and flipped through them as the speech progressed, perhaps unwilling to take any chance he would flub the swipe at Obama.
The first major speaker at CPAC -- a mecca of conservative thinkers and activists -- Rubio drew a crowd that packed a hotel ballroom in Washington, each attendee eager to get a glimpse of the man who has come to personify conservative re-ascendance in the age of Obama. The speech itself was a rather standard red meat affair, with the expected swipes at his primary rival, Gov. Charlie Crist, and even more at the president and his administration.
"2010 is a referendum on the very identity of our nation," he said of the 2010 election "And the issues are so big, so consequential, so generational that many of the old rules of political engagement will not apply. For example a long list of early establishment endorsements will not spare you a primary. Several one line slogans aren't going to spare you the need to discuss policy issues in details. And the old tired political attacks that worked in the past aren't going to get you elected this time."
There were several applause lines. But nothing too exceptional. One of Rubio's most prominent Washington D.C. endorsers, nevertheless, was sufficiently swayed.
"I was standing backstage with tears," Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said following Rubio on stage. "Reminding myself what we have with Marco. What a treasure."