(A second thread here.)
My pet theory, unattached to any evidence, is that James Dobson et al started rumbling about ditching the GOP to stoke excitement for the Family Reseach Council (FRCAction) Washington Briefing. It worked! All of your favorite journos are here, even the ones who could afford to send their stringers. Everyone is chatting up doe-eyed religious conservatives about… mostly Rudy, actually. There's no better sign of how Rudy Giuliani is dominating this race than the mass angina affecting this conference. Very, very of these social cons could stomach a Rudy candidacy, although the ones I talk to haven't thought about a third party candidate. (Many claim they're just now paying attention.)
In the fully-stocked but not busy exhibit hall I chatted with Dale O'Leary, an organizer with Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays. She says that the media does a poor job of covering the ex-gay movement. "They'll have a traditional family character and they'll reveal, you know, that they're a hypocrite or a murderer or someone with a dark secret. Look around here," she said, craning her neck toward a booth for Samaritan Ministries. ("Does your health care support the darkness?") "These are nice people! None of them are murderers or anything." I suggested that the Larry Craig scandal, and other scandals like that, make it easy for creators or reporters to portray the ex-gay (or straight-up anti-gay) movement as hypocritical. "There is a very good reason to believe that Larry Craig is not a homosexual," she said. "Read the research or read The Tearoom Trade."
There's more in my notebook but I have to set up to see Ron Paul.
UPDATE 2:12: Duncan Hunter stubbornly refuses to change his stump speech whether he's talking to the VFW or a group of Iowan pig farmers or a group of rights-for-fetuses social cons. I walk into his stentorian spiel and he's talking about "making China play fair!" He goes a Steinbeckian ramble about the burial places of various soldiers with useless geographic details ("200 miles from there is the grave of Roy Benevides… 1500 miles from there is the grave of…")
His first big applause line is "we are crushing al Qaeda in Anbar province!" His second applause line is… more interesting. Swerving to the Middle East, Hunter praises Israel. "That little country, that little postage stamp called Israel, they have stood tall… they should not give back an inch of their land!" Huge, whooping applause. In the front rows at least three people get up and start waving Israeli flags.
2:18: "If a judicial candidate can not look at a sonogram and see a valuable human life, I will not appoint that candidate to the federal bench!" More applause, more standing up and "YEEEAH!"ing.
2:20: If Rudy Giuliani is the "president of 9/11," Hunter is the president of loping marines anecdotes.