CPAC 2015 takeaway: The GOP has embraced selfies

Posted at 10:22 AM, Mar 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-02 12:46:47-05

This weekend’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference yielded a few important takeaways - Sen. Rand Paul emerged as the GOP’s most healthy presidential contender, Jeb Bush can work a crowd and, perhaps most importantly, the Republican Party has embraced selfies.

It looks like the big tent party is reframing to include millennials - or at least putting them in the focus of an easily shareable snapshot. In a nod to the increasingly important 2016 voting bloc, key conservative figures and presidential hopefuls looked toward to the future of front-facing cameras. The official CPAC Twitter account offered prizes for the day’s best selfies, and the hashtag #CPACselfie garnered a collection of blurry portraits with the party’s elite.

The prominence of the selfie at CPAC 2015 was a proclamation that conservatives "get it." The Democrats, led by President Obama, tapped into THE INTERNETZ in 2008 and 2012, successfully moving the mysterious youth vote to the polls. It’s a strategy that the GOP has been struggling to keep up with. And although there was no shortage of criticism for Obama’s use of a selfie stick in a recent BuzzFeed video, the GOP was willing to put its selfie bias aside for the three-day conference.

So now that the GOP "gets" the power of the "selfie" for "social media," let’s refine the selfie game. They’ve got a little bit of work to do. Here are some "selfie" tips from a real "millennial."


This blur makes it look like Jeb Bush wants to run away from the entire conference. And honestly, we wouldn’t blame him after the unsuccessful walkout coup during his speech, but the problem can be fixed by using the camera’s burst mode. Props to the photobomber right behind Jeb Bush.

A filter can be used to even out odd looking skin tones caused by bad overhead lighting, a tactic this snapshot employs skillfully. The only problem with this selfie is that Rick Santorum needs to come out of the dark. I’m sure that isn’t the first time he’s heard that.

You should always avoid reflections in selfies, lest you run the risk of exposing that you are, indeed, holding a phone in front of your face. Rick Perry, who can look devilishly handsome even in mugshots, seems to have this understanding, unlike his young spectacled protege.

You must be sure that everyone participating in a selfie is ready for said selfie. But good luck getting Newt Gingrich to stop talking. Ever.

The goal of a good selfie is making yourself look like you are having a better time than all of your friends. This well-executed shot of Sen. Ted Cruz achieves that goal. It just screams, "I’m so much better at this than you," which is basically what the senator spent the weekend screaming, too.

This is the best selfie of the bunch. Good lighting, good angle, flawless use of what appears to be a selfie stick. Perhaps it is this selfie that clenched the CPAC straw poll win for Sen. Rand Paul.

Sometimes you can use selfies to show background activity, like a selfie while you are at a concert. This decent but underwhelming portrait of freshman Sen. Joni Ernst lacks the personality she used on the campaign trail. Next time we’d like to see Ernst throw a duckface while, I don’t know, castrating a hog?

Although you need to give credit for fitting five primary subjects (and that sullen young man in the back) in the frame, this selfie suffers from overexposure. Kind of like Gov. Scott Walker himself?

[Also by Abby Johnston: What Congress needs is more snowballs]

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