Quite a day. Woke up at 3AM and left by 3:30am. Arrived at the Convention Center at (what I thought was) 8AM.
Went to the Press Office to get my credentials and Ms. Ashley Varner, after hearing my name and introducing herself, reminded me about the time zone change. Oops. After contacting SailorCurt, I scooted over to the Marriott for the GrassRoots Workshop. There I met up w/ SailorCurt, Sebastian SIH, SaysUncle, Robb Allen, and Joe Huffman. The workshop was informative and was a good way to start off the weekend. Even if I was late.
SailorCurt and I then hot-footed it back to the hotel and then the Convention Center again just in time for the LeaderShip Forum.
Speakers included NRA leaders John Sigler, Wayne Lapierre, and Chris Cox. Other notables included Karl Rove (probably the most dangerous man in America, thank goddess he's on our side), and Lt. Col Ollie North. He stated "A hero is one who puts himself at risk for the benefit of another". I note this because two following speakers, US Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell and Green Beret Sgt. Greg Stube (both of whom fall under Col. North's definition) both insisted that they were NOT heroes, just patriots.
There were also a bunch of politicians. A few notables w/ quotes include Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) w/ the self-depreciating joke "We support the right of every American to be shot in the face by Vice-President Cheney" and Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) "Charlton Heston will be remembered as a hero to future generations. Michael Moore will not." Mitt Romney had his say but the most infamous speaker was of course Senator (and Presidential hopeful) John McCain.
He did dance around the "Gun Show Loophole" bit and the Incumbent Protection Act wasn't even mentioned, but it was noted that he voted in favor of firearm rights on 'Assault Weapons', Confiscation, the DC Handgun Ban, and several others. He'll get my support. Grudgingly. He's better than the other electable options and I don't feel that "teaching the party a lesson" is worth the damage that Obama or Hillary will do. If I'm proven wrong at a later date, I'll admit it humbly.
As an aside, I want to note that the NRA staff who worked with us were fabulous. Ms. Varner not only expedited out passes but made sure we were in the right places at the right times and got our upgraded Banquet tickets were in order. Other staff members, including Justin McDaniel, Daniel Feldbusch, and Danielle Sturgis (sorry to the folks that I didn't get names) got us up to the front for close-up shots of the speakers.
I also discovered that a certain myth is false. Secret Service Agents DO in fact, have a sense of humor. I had just taken a shot of the gaggle of "Authorized Journalists" on the podium:
when a very dour faced agent (who looked as if he could break any of us in two w/o a second thought) came up to me and told me we weren't allowed to photograph the media:
My reply: "Really? Damn, you guys are strict."
He laughed ( Apparently they actually can do that) and said "Nah, go ahead". I shook his hand and took his photo.
Then it was off to the 2nd biggest Bass Pro shop in the US for Happy Hour on Michael Bane where along w/ numerous other bloggers like Ahab, Squeeky, Kevin Baker and many others to numerous to list, we also had Todd Jarrett and the publisher of SOF magazine.
They have really good food there. Sailorcurt and I then went shopping. Found a perfect set of beginner rifles for FourthPower Alpha & Beta:
Now to convince the CIC.
Tomorrow's schedule. FN demonstration, much walking around the vendor area, the "In Your Own Words" Seminar, cleanup, then the Banquet.