CPAC: A Stroll With Ric Grenell

AP Photo/John Locher

Yesterday, as I sat waiting for my Lyft to pick me up at the hotel to ferry me to the Log Cabin event featuring Ric Grenell, I felt a bit of anxiety, as I was already late for the event, and likely my opportunity to see the former Trump Administration official speak.  I was excited to hear him as there is speculation that Grenell may run for Governor of California should a recall effort of Gavin Newsom succeed.  Thinking I was late, the frustration began to build further, as my ride seemed to not move on the map for more than 10 minutes despite my original 3 minute pickup time.

In my frustration I almost missed as Ric himself scurried past me, he, too, late for his own event.  I heard him say, “dang, it is over 10 minutes to get an Uber!,” as he kept speed walking toward his destination.  The journalist in me kicked in as I hoped for some one-on-one time with him on the way to his next event.  Having run in campaign circles previously, I was close with a Grenell advisor and knew he would be appreciative of my efforts to deliver the tardy former Ambassador.  “Ric!,” I called.  “I am headed to your event and have a Lyft showing up in two minutes!”  Grenell turned around as I saw him momentarily relieved that he wasn’t going to have to jog in the warm Florida humidity to his next event.  “Awesome,” Grenell replied, as I showed him on my phone that my Lyft was arriving shortly.  Almost immediately, the 2 minute arrival time became 8 minutes, and in politics, 6 minutes is a huge amount of time.  Ric and I agreed immediately to cancel both our pending efforts to get rides and make the unknown walk to the venue for his event, together.

Flying through my head was every question I wanted to ask him.  Here is a man that I have long admired and I had the time to ask him pretty much any question I wanted.  As I stalled to decide on my next question, I suddenly found myself on the receiving end of a question from Ric.  He wanted to know about my family, where I was from, how I enjoyed working at RedState and what plans I had for the rest of the weekend at CPAC.  He wanted to know about my fellow writers and contributors at our Townhall-sister-sites, and thanked us for the efforts we were making for conservative media.  Instead of asking him questions about his work or what he had planned for his political future, instead, I found myself engaged in conversation about where he and his husband live and the culture of his neighborhood.

Ric related stories of the closeness of his Manhattan Beach neighborhood, stating that the families have coalesced into a big family, caring for each other in a way that Aunts and Uncles would for nearby families.  He talked warning the neighborhood kids of impending dangers — “Hey, Billy! Get out of there!” Grenell quipped, referencing a nearby storm drain.  Instead of trying to pry answers out of Grenell about his potential run for California Governor, I instead was trading stories about our neighborhoods and how much we both love living in the Golden State, despite the continued failures of the current government.  We chuckled about commonalities, and I found myself enamored with his style, his delivery, his unfiltered genuineness.  I wasn’t talking to a politician, as I have found in my interactions with others with whom I have previously interacted.  He wasn’t giving me some canned stump speech or appealing to my conservative ideals in attempting to find common ground.  He was approachable, friendly, engaging, and empathetic. What started as my attempt to interview to get a good story, left me with a respect for Ric, greater than what I had entered that discussion with.  All this, from a 10-minute stroll. When we arrived at the restaurant, he thanked me for the company and jogged up the stairs into his event.

At first, I cursed myself at the lack of any “fruit” of my efforts to interview the Conservative warrior. It was then I realized it.  I had wanted to get to know the “real Grenell” or obtain some exclusive or tidbit I could drop.  I did get my exclusive, which is this:  Ric Grenell, beyond his wild talent and unstoppable presence, is as much of a “regular Joe” as the rest of us.  Asking probing questions would likely have gotten me nowhere and contributed to a likely awkward remainder of the walk.  Instead, I got to know, ever so slightly and in the smallest of ways, a bit of the deeper Ric Grenell.  No Labels.  No Expectations.  No politics.  For that, I am grateful.

Thanks for the conversation, Ric.