NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The fight within the GOP was crystal clear: flag-waving Tea Partiers and "I Stand With Rand"-clad libertarians versus a sea of well-dressed establishment Republicans.
Dozens of protesters staged a walkout when Jeb Bush took the stage at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference Friday afternoon, but it was something less than a full-on revolt.
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As Bush, the former Florida governor who many have pegged as the GOP 2016 frontrunner, took the stage, dozens of people led by Tea Party flag-waver William Temple paraded through the packed ballroom and streamed out, then congregated outside CPAC's main speaking venue and chanted, "USA! USA!"
Rumors had been swirling since Thursday that Tea Party conservatives would lead a massive walkout during Bush's CPAC appearance, though the actual walkout far from depleted the room — plenty of suit-wearing youths (who may have been bussed in to pack the venue) seemed willing and eager to take the vacated seats, standing and clapping for Bush.
Much of Bush's Q&A with Fox News' Sean Hannity was punctuated with shouting from protesters, and Bush spent much of the interview defending his controversial stances on everything from Common Core to immigration reform.
Bush's take on what others have deemed a squishy centrism: "I have a record of accomplishment and getting things done."
Some online lauded Bush's CPAC appearance...
A lot of people would have liked to see Jeb Bush fail here at CPAC. He's not failing here at CPAC.— Jeff B@AoSHQDD (@EsotericCD) February 27, 2015
Jeb says he’s a “Practicing, reform minded, conservative.” #CPAC— Alex Hanson (@theAlexHanson) February 27, 2015
...while others decried him.
The loud boos & massive walkout at CPAC when Jeb Bush took the podium was very telling.— ⚛ Armand ⚛ (@TheBookOfArmand) February 27, 2015
The Q&A format probably served Jeb Bush well at CPAC. Instead of lecturing - a danger with a speech - he looked like he was responding.— Peter Suderman (@petersuderman) February 27, 2015
This story has been updated.
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