Jezebel’s Managing Editor Erin Ryan finds out that not all young conservative women are Stepford-Wives-in-Training in this interview with former CPAC director and Breitbart contributor Lisa De Pasquale:
Lisa De Pasquale is a conservative writer of both fiction and punditry who, to date, was the longest-serving head of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). She organized the behemoth conference from 2006 to 2011. During her time behind the scenes, she’s seen and done things that read less like a job and more like a Fox News fever dream.
In an interview with Jezebel, Lisa walks us through the whirlwind—who’s actually cool, who actually isn’t, and who she accidentally threw up in front of—as well as the current struggle over gay acceptance in the American right. You can read more about her views on Breitbart, TownHall, et al; you can read a lightly fictionalized version of her adventures and misadventures in her 2014 novel Finding Mr. Righteous. You can read about her controversial dismissal from an increasingly intolerant-to-gay-people CPAC right here.
How did you come to be the director of CPAC?
Through my previous job as program director of a conservative women’s organization, I had been attending CPAC since 2000. CPAC had three directors from 2000 to 2006 and given that I was from a small organization, I always tried to be helpful because I figured if CPAC was a success it would help our organization, too. I helped CPAC get speakers I had relationships with like Ann Coulter, Dr. Laura, and former Miss America Erika Harold. In 2006, when the CPAC Director announced she was leaving, both she and the former director recommended me for the job. I remember it as the last day a group of two or more conservatives liked me.
What did you enjoy most about the job?
The most enjoyable part of the job was making memorable experiences for attendees. Like getting photos of volunteers with speakers they liked (this was before the Selfie Age) or giving people the opportunity to introduce their heroes. I also loved those surprise moments for the audience, like newly-elected Senator Scott Brown introducing Mitt Romney. My two favorites, though, are surprising a “Red Eye” super fan by sitting Greg Gutfeld, Andy Levy, and Bill Schultz at her banquet table and introducing Rush Limbaugh at CPAC 2009.
Who is the nicest politician or personality you’ve dealt with behind the scenes? The meanest? (If you don’t want to name names, can you drop a general hint or two?)
Aside from people like Ann Coulter who I already knew, the nicest was Rush Limbaugh. Not only was he extremely nice, but very humble. He didn’t have an entourage or any backstage demands. Backstage he asked what had been the biggest news from the conference. I don’t remember what I said, but the reality was he was going to be the biggest news of the conference. That he was genuinely interested in the conference made me proud of the work my team and I had done. He also personally signed 100 or so Limbaugh Letters for our volunteers. I should mention that the man responsible for making his speech happen was the recently departed Kit Carson. He was a great man who, like Limbaugh, was always interested in other people’s opinions.
I won’t name names on the meanest, but I will say it’s never the A-listers. It’s always the B or C-list people who are demanding and impatient. They act like divas because they think that is how important people act.
What’s your most memorable CPAC moment?
Being on stage with Rush Limbaugh in 2009. Barack Obama had just won the election and everyone expected CPAC to be a dismal affair. Rush was electric and the audience was hungry for a positive mood despite the media’s expectations that they would be depressed. The speech was carried live on Fox News, CNN and C-SPAN and clips were replayed for several weeks. Seeing myself (and the nasty comments) motivated me to lose over 100 pounds.
Read the rest of the interview here.