Washington (CNN) - Protesters chanting “mic check, mic check,” a calling card of the Occupy Wall Street movement, momentarily disrupted former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as she spoke to conservative activists gathered Saturday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.
Yelling, “Get out of here (expletive),” Christopher Renner, a 30 year old accountant from Tyson’s Corner, Virginia, leapt from his seat inside the main ballroom and ran in the general direction of the commotion.
Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
Although Renner identifies himself as a conservative, a supporter of the tea party movement, and, to a lesser extent, a Republican, he said his reaction was not driven by politics or ideology.
“I’m a veteran of the Marine Corps. I served in Iraq twice, deployed there,” Renner told CNN. "I don’t remember what I said in the next five seconds. I just saw something happening...and instinct took over.”
Renner said he was trying to get close to the commotion in case the protest became a physical altercation.
Renner said he was thinking, “If they are a physical threat to somebody else, I’m going to get in between them and whatever they’re doing.”
Earlier in the afternoon, Renner was in the audience in the same ballroom when a group of national tea party leaders participated in a panel discussion about how their movement differed from the Occupy Wall Street movement.
“I’ve tried to have a lot of sympathy for them,” Renner said of the liberal Occupy Wall Street movement.
“They have some valid points,” Renner said, talking about the recent government bailouts of various industries that have been perceived by many on Main Street as an injustice when many Americans are struggling.
Renner added, “Among anybody here who self-identifies with the tea party, I think you’ll find a lot of sympathy towards the Occupy movement.” But Renner added that “they lose us” by advocating for more government and for more entitlements. “We’re saying the country is being looted, let’s stop the looting. The Occupy movement is increasingly saying the country is being looted, we want some of the loot. And that’s where they’ve kind of diverged and lost [us].”
For the past few days, Occupy movement supporters have been protesting outside the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel where the CPAC meeting is being held in northwest Washington D.C. Several protestors made it inside the building on Friday and Saturday.
Renner said he arrived at the spot in the ballroom Saturday where the protesters had been “probably about five seconds” after they were escorted out by security.
When he realized the situation had been handled, he quickly returned to his seat in the ballroom and listened to the rest of Palin’s speech without incident. This is Renner’s third consecutive year attending the annual gathering of conservative activists.