Sen. Roger Wicker, a Mississippi Republican, left the Commodores concert at 9:30 p.m., staying only long enough to mingle with donors and accept a greeting from the evening's host, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas.
Asked on his way out the door if he believed the lobbyist in attendance and the corporations who sponsored the event had spent the money to gain access to him, Sen. Wicker smiled broadly.
"Well, I don't know. I don't think so," he said. "I've been going to these since 1968, and it's changed a lot, no question about it. Conventions used to be more substantive."
Pressed on the question, Wicker again said he did not feel uncomfortable with what he described as a "nonstop" schedule of events outside the convention hall.
"There are better ways to influence me," he said.