Washington (CNN) - Organizers of the Conservative Political Action Conference said they were concerned some of the negative reaction to former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld crossed the line and was inappropriate.
But they said the two speakers did not seem to mind. The conference is the annual gathering of some 11,000 conservative activists and has become an early testing ground for potential GOP presidential candidates.
When introduced both men were greeted with a lot of applause but also with some boos. Cheney was greeted by a few attendees who heckled him about the war in Iraq and other issues. Several of them were escorted from the hall.
Cheney was a surprise guest and introduced his former colleague, Rumsfeld, who was being given an award at the event.
Asked on Friday whether the reception the two men were given did cross a line, the chairman of the event, David Keene, told CNN "I personally think it did, but it didn't bother either of them. They played off of it and it worked fine."
"We were concerned it had crossed the line, but the affected parties" didn't seem to mind, said Al Cardenas, who is succeeding Keene as chairman of the American Conservative Union, the main sponsor of CPAC.
Pointing out that many of the attendees have strong opinions, "You get a lot of rambunctious people on a lot of issues. There were a couple of people who complained about some of, some of the dissenters," Keene said adding he was sitting next to Rumsfeld, and he didn't see any signs the reaction he received bothered him.
"He doesn't feel comfortable unless there are folks there he can play off of," Keene said.
Cardenas said conservatives are known for voicing their opinions and pushing for individual freedoms. "And they take it to heart when they are here."
Both Keene and Cardenas added they believe it is important that the conference maintain civility.
And in the end, the former Vice President seemed to take it all in stride beginning his remarks in typical Dick Cheney style: "Alright, sit down and shut up," adding, "It's the usual spirited exercise."