Bright and early at the "CNN Diner"

Tuesday morning at 7 a.m. was the appointed time and Washington DC’s timeless “The Diner” on 18th Street Northwest was the setting for CNN’s morning program on Jan. 24. Bleary-eyed patrons saw two members of Congress, an economist and a few national pundits trudge in to “The Diner” as CNN cameras and crew were on hand to interview and sit down for coffee and conversation with veteran reporter-anchor Soledad O’Brien.

As you can see in the photos below, I met my share of interesting folks at the “CNN Diner.”  Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), whom you see wearing his trademark spectacles and greeting me warmly, assured me that early reports that he would be seeking re-election in a much less secure district were greatly exaggerated.  Supporters had complained to lawmakers who drew the districts and, West said, he thought he would be fine.  West, a retired U.S. Army colonel who is one of the two black Republican House Members, also said he wasn’t taking sides in the presidential primary in his state next week.

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Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist and  his spokesman John Kartch were also on hand.  As to my query about who he felt would be secretary of the treasury under a “President Gingrich,” Grover shot back: “It depends on what role a treasury secretary would have.”

On-line pundit David Frum, seen here with me minus a tie, recalled our conversation a few years ago about Prime Minister Stephen Harper of his native Canada.  Frum, who had concluded Harper was “more grounded in conservatism than his [Conservative] Party,” said that, with an absolute majority in the Canadian parliament, Harper was now behaving as a “prime minister of the United States” with his support of the Keystone Pipeline, which President Obama has delayed approval of.

Rounding out the morning was Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), whom I had just been with at Newt Gingrich’s victory party on primary night in South Carolina, his top aide (and former U.S. Marine) Randy Kutz, and silver-haired economist Marty Sullivan, formerly with the Joint U.S. House Committee on Taxation. 

Rep. Franks (who is also seen here with CNN producer Karrah Kaplan) chatted with me outside The Diner and graciously permitted me to ride in the network town car to my home.

A “CNN Diner” visit means getting up a bit earlier than I usually do.

But it’s worth it–and it’s fun.