Washington Times’ Jon Ward paints a chilling picture of the tornado destruction and Scott Stanzel clears up a CPAC mix-up.

  • “Everything we saw on the ground was intact, until about 9:35. The terrain became more hilly, more rural, and more forested, and then there was a black barn with parts of the roof and side torn off, and a few trees strewn about (the word ‘strewn’ quickly became overworn). Then, on closer inspection, a little ways further, there were the outlines on the ground of what used to be houses. Then the terrain became almost mountainous, with lots of trees. Most of the houses were at the bases of the large hills, or in valleys between them. We saw utility trucks propping up powerlines, and then we saw whole stretches of smashed structures thrown across hillsides. On many of the hillsides, half the trees were standing and half were prostrated, all in one direction.” — Jon Ward, Washington Times

  • “A plant of some sort was half-destroyed, looking something like a partly eaten piece of cake. Most striking was the randomness of the destruction. A few hundred feet from houses that were totally destroyed stood structures that were fully intact. As we flew along a ridge line, it appeared that the tornadoes had danced upon the hillsides and then down into the valleys, winding their way. In one small valley open space, the trees on the hillside were almost all smashed and there was a small structure blown to bits. But 20 yards away was a fully intact large house.” — Ward

  • The ridgeline ended, and the terrain became flat again. More random destruction, and now it was total. Carnage. This is where the hammer came down. In spots, it looked as if a giant had trudged through the landscape, smashing certain places with a club and moving past others.” — Ward

  • “‘Everybody in this area is good — shook up but good,’ Paulette said moments before POTUS arrived. When he got there, she said, “He’s my hero; I knew he would come.” They produced a photo of POTUS. Bush motioned to Jared and asked if he had a pen. Jared handed over a Sharpie, and POTUS signed. ‘Man’s name is GW,’ POTUs said. ‘Nothing wrong with that.’ Your pool was escorted away, while the group had some private time.” — Sheryl Stolberg, New York Times

  • Stanzel gaggled on board, saying that the president’s comments at CPAC were NOT an implicit endorsement or backing of McCain for president. Transcript coming. Stanzel said Romney’s suspension of his campaign is ‘a step towards having a Republican nominee’ but to read POTUS speech as a call for coalescing around McCain ‘would be wrong.’” — Ward

  • “POTUS stood in the Oval between 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson and Chandra, wife of the race driver. The president held a shiny racing helmet that the White House says is a gift from Johnson to President Bush. The president lauded Johnson and other NASCAR drivers for being not just great athletes but also ‘socially minded folks.’” — Jonathan Riskind, Columbus Dispatch