Scores of CPAC attendees began to file out as soon as Jeb Bush started speaking with talk show host Sean Hannity this afternoon,which did eventually garner plenty of applause. After exiting the main auditorium at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the protesting attendees began chanting “USA, USA” and “Stand with Rand.” Despite the sign of defiance, the main ballroom was as packed for Bush’s talk as it had been for any other 2016 contender, including Scott Walker and Rand Paul.
Bush’s comments attracted cheers from some parts of the ballroom, which was more packed than it had been at any other point in the conference, but was also punctuated by occasional heckles, including shouts of “Open borders!” In talking with Hannity, Bush refused to walk down from his positions on more controversial issues, saying, for instance, he still supported the idea of giving drivers’ licenses to illegal immigrants.
The Washington Times reported yesterday that some conservative activists were considering protesting Jeb’s speech. In anticipation of just such a walkout, Slate reported, Bush’s team began bussing in supporters from downtown Washington, D.C. Many of the buses were expected to depart from K Street, the heart of the lobbying industry in Washington. As Bush continued to answer questions from Hannity, more and more attendees filed out.