At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this morning, attendees stood in line for up to two hours to get in. They were already registered (the usual cause for long CPAC lines), and had attended events on Thursday. But they still had to go through one of three metal detectors, causing long delays. The extra security, unprecedented in my five years of attending CPAC, was due to one man, former presidential candidate Ben Carson.
Both Carson and Donald Trump were awarded Secret Service protection in early November and, as the day wore on, guards wearing Kevlar vests marked “Secret Service” showed up in front of the media entrance. Former Secret Service director Ralph Basham told the Washington Post that such a detail costs taxpayers roughly $40,000 per day. The Daily Caller estimated that, had Carson chosen to stay in the race until the July convention in Cleveland, his security would cost taxpayers $6 million — and a boatload of wasted time.
The lines elicited a few different reactions on Twitter.
— Jon Feere (@JonFeere) March 4, 2016
Some people took pictures and claimed that the line was to see Ohio Governor John Kasich who, unlike Carson, is still actively in the presidential race. While this is technically true, the real reason the lines were so long was the security, not the governor. There were only three metal detectors right by the doors to the general-admission area, and just two Secret Service officers with scanners monitoring the media entrance.
— Derek Hunter (@derekahunter) March 4, 2016
Carson suspended his campaign on stage this afternoon, declining to make an endorsement. Instead, he announced the launch of a new conservative non-profit group focused on convincing Christians to turn out to vote, confirming this reporter’s suspicion that his fundraising strategy fit the launch of a non-profit, rather than the maintenance of a political campaign. In any case, he won’t be entitled to Secret Service protection any longer, and CPAC announced that there will be no metal detectors or scanners on Saturday, much to the relief of the crowd.
— Tyler O’Neil (@Tyler2ONeil) March 4, 2016