The Republican Party of Orange County's Silent Auction

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 31 2012 9:39 AM

The Republican Party of Orange County's Silent Auction

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Three days ago, right before he went to Palm Beach to accept Herman Cain's endorsement, Newt Gingrich stopped by the Orange County Republican Party's banquet. (Florida bluffer's guide: Orange = Orlando.) The speech was more pointed than you usually get at an event like this.

"We are today gathering on the 26th anniversary of the explosion of the Challenger," he said. He was bold enough to describe an American future for space exploration; Mitt Romney wasn't. "We should be a Republican Party that learns from the past," he said.

This was the speech, but I was just as interested in the silent auction occuring at the back of the room. The GOP had gathered together donated swag from George W. Bush (a signed copy of Decision Points), George H.W. Bush (a photo of him with Babe Ruth), and all manner of Ronald Reagan trinkets. One of the highest-bid items when I checked was a piece of the Berlin wall, affixed to a frame that also contained a photo of Reagan giving the Brandenburg Gate speech. But it didn't have as many bidders as this:

IMG_4796

Tim Tebow had signed a miniature football helmet and a jersey; both were cruising to the mid-hundreds of dollars. In less demand: Two other athletic trophies.

IMG_4791

After Gingrich's speech, the live auction began. The emcee: Barbara West, best known as the anchorwoman who scored a pre-election interview in 2008 and used it to ask Joe Biden if he was an advocate for socialism.

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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