THURSDAY, WASHINGTON, D.C. – Mike Pence’s presence at CPAC is proving to be more disruptive than anticipated for a crowd of confused press and attendees who can no longer make it up to the main floor for events and breakout sessions.
Security here at the Gaylord National at CPAC on behalf of Mike Pence has the downstairs secured off with dozens of people gathered and waiting to be cleared to go back to Media Row.
What was initially dozens of people have since evolved into a crowd as this is written for just one entrance point to the mezzanine. With no known end to this security hold, and no formal announcement that those who leave the upstairs area will not be permitted back, there are a lot of confused and aggravated attendees here at CPAC 2020.
No one was being warned that due to security people shouldn’t leave the upstairs area if they want to return right away, there is no consensus on when this will be over, and the event staff are not all informed as to how and where to direct people when they are looking for a specific location in the event.
So far this reporter has missed two breakout sessions, and when I inquire again as to when people will be allowed back, I get the same answer.
Many people were unknowingly leaving media row and then being blocked from returning to their stations, leaving many separated from their coworkers and missing out on important information.
The event map is only made available readily through the mobile application CPAC 2020, and even that doesn’t make clear where the individual breakout sessions are being held.
This journalist was trapped downstairs when I was asking for directions, not from a random individual, but the CPAC information booth and sent down to a floor where there are no breakout sessions, only booths that are as of yet not even occupied.
Now, as at least 100 people crowd together, they are warning those upstairs not to come down if you want to be able to attend anything going on upstairs until presumably after Mike Pence has left. This reporter has asked no fewer than 7 security officers and police when we will be permitted to return upstairs, and no one has any idea.
Hopefully, CPAC 2021 will be more prepared and organized.