Mitt Romney and Herman Cain both spoke to an audience of fiscal conservatives at the Americans For Prosperity Foundation's annual summit today in Washington D.C., and as is the case any time a group of Republican nominees get together, much of interest went down. (And with the lower travel costs of a gathering in D.C., you can bet the city's political reporters were there in the flesh, live tweeting for the rest of us.) In terms of actual policy news, there wasn't much to report from the conference as both candidates reportedly gave versions of their stump speeches, so here is a run-down of some of the more interesting side-notes from the day:
Funny Jokes: Both Cain and Romney had lines that were classic examples of their respective brands of humor. Speaking first, Romney addressed his belief in smaller, more efficient government with this piece of dad-joke humor: "Too many chefs not only spoil the broth, they make it inedible and prohibitively expensive," according to Slate's Dave Weigel. Cain's humor, typically more off-the-cuff and confusing, consisted of him shouting out to billionaire Republican-backing Koch brothers with the line, "This may be a breaking news announcement for the media: I am the Koch brothers's brother from another mother." (David Koch, who founded the AFP, was in attendance.) It's a brand new day for the Republican Party when statements like that are making the rounds.
- Crowd reaction: Reporters noted a big discrepancy in crowd reaction to the candidates' entrances. The crowd was muted for Romney, Weigel reports, even as the speakers played Kid Rock. (Is Romney a fan?) But they perked up to give him a standing ovation during the speech when he pledged to repeal ObamaCare, reports The Atlantic's Molly Ball. Meanwhile the crowd went crazy for Cain upon his entrance, and he had the speakers playing "I Am America," the Tea Party anthem which you might remember from the background of that creepy Cain ad that went viral last week.
- Teleprompter-gate? CNN's Peter Hanby reported that Romney was reading off a teleprompter, something for which both he and much of the Republican field have mocked Obama. Cain seemed to stumble into a jab at Romney by asking aloud, "Whose teleprompters are these? Because I don't need 'em. Think they're for somebody else"
- Things we didn't know: Speaking between the candidates, National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg noted that 20 million Chinese people still live in caves. (How'd he get on that topic?) It was a fact which had Bloomberg's Joshua Green incredulous until it was pointed out to be, shockingly, true. Count us more informed on the issue of Chinese cave-dwelling!