There's a famous recording from 1968, in which Robert Kennedy tells a huge crowd in Indianapolis that, "Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee."
The crowd, understandably, gasped.
Though Mitt Romney's CPAC announcement hardly compares with RFK's announcement, they both had one thing in common: The audience was shocked and caught completely by surprise.
Of course, in 1968, it was more likely that a speaker could inform an audience of information. After all, this was before cell phones, i-phones, and blackberries.
The fact that the audience at CPAC -- in 2008, mind you -- was left unaware of the big news -- is a more surprising phenomenon. (Granted, Romney kept the announcement pretty "hush-hush" -- but everyone watching the speech on TV knew Romney would pull-out before the live audience did)
It is rare these days for an audience these days to actually be informed of big information by a speaker. More often than not, they've been tipped-off by a call, text, or email.
Even our political conventions tend to be simply ceremonies to ratify things we already know. Yet, the audience at CPAC clearly had no clue Romney's big announcement was coming (this was evident by their response, and confirmed by numerous attendees who testified to the fact that they were totally surprised).
Of course, the CPAC audience was "kept in the dark" because it's nearly impossible for most people to receive emails, texts, or calls, inside the Omni Shoreham. (For this reason, I find it incredibly irritating to spend any length of time in a big conference or convention, these days).
My guess is the next generation of conference centers will allow for better cell service (that, or the providers will do better job of allowing us to access information). As such, this may be one of the last instances we will see where an audience to a speech is actually surprised by a big announcement.