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Trump at CPAC: What Really Happened

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By Bill Hoffmann   |   Friday, 22 Mar 2013 05:26 PM

Donald Trump took it on the chin from liberal media outlets, who made fun of him for attracting a smaller-than-expected crowd at the CPAC convention.

Liberal MSNBC, noting the crowd size, reported, “If CPAC organizers were betting that Donald Trump’s name would sell tickets, they lost big.’’

But, as the late Paul Harvey might have said, there’s “the rest of the story.”

According to sources, organizers of the Conservative Political Action Conference placed Trump on the schedule for an 8:45 a.m. speech.

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But this year, CPAC was located at Maryland’s National Harbor, well outside of downtown Washington, D.C., and some 30 minutes drive time during rush hour for many CPAC attendees who stayed in D.C. hotels.

To add further confusion, CPAC scheduled its prayer breakfast at the same time Trump was to speak. And the attendees who made it early to the convention site at the Gaylord National Resort were under the mistaken impression that Trump was speaking at the prayer breakfast, not in the ballroom.

“The organizers didn’t inform people that Mr. Trump was going to be at a separate forum. A large crowd went to the prayer breakfast thinking he would be there,’’ a CPAC organizer said, explaining the faux pas to Newsmax.

But it turns out that Trump, still one of the most popular figures among tea party conservatives, had the last laugh.

Much of the press that covered CPAC attended Trump’s event and missed the prayer breakfast.

Then, following his speech, the star of NBC’s smash show “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice’’ held the largest press conference of any of the guest speakers who attended CPAC’s three-day event.

“Not only were the national press in attendance, but Trump had a huge number of international press there,’’ the source said.

Trump’s remarks at CPAC also received wide attention on the web and with the media.

Trump urged Republicans not to tinker with programs such as Medicare and Social Security, and said if they embraced amnesty for illegals it would hurt GOP chances in 2016.

Trump said: “As Republicans, if you think you are going to change very substantially for the worse Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security in any substantial way, and at the same time you think you are going to win elections, it just really is not going to happen.”

Trump noted that polls show even tea-partyers are against cutting Social Security and Medicare.

He also warned about immigration reform.

“The fact is, 11 million people will be voting Democratic. You can be out front. You can be the spearhead. You can do whatever you want to do, but every one of those 11 million people will be voting Democratic,” he said. “It is just the way it works.”

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Despite Trump’s huge media draw, the real story about Trump’s appearance was never reported.

Still, a source close to Trump says he and his staff weren’t happy about the “shoddy way” CPAC organized the event and his appearance — and he’s not sure he will return next year.

“Donald is encouraging the CPAC organizers to watch the ‘Apprentice’ and learn how to handle business events,” the source said with a laugh.

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