Ron Paul Wins CPAC Presidential Straw Poll
Rep. Ron Paul, hero of a fervant band of libertarians, unexpectedly won the presidential straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference today, claiming 31% of the votes cast. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who has carried the survey for the past three years, was second at 22%. The straw poll is unscientific but is sometimes seen as a show of organizational strength among presidential hopefuls. However, Paul, who made a longshot bid for the Republican nomination in 2008, has given no indication he plans to run again. "It is clear that Paul brought a lot of people" to CPAC, said Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio, who ran the straw poll. Fabrizio said 2,395 of a reported 10,000 attendees voted. It was the most votes in the history of CPAC -- about 40% higher than last year, he said.Fabrizio noted that Romney's support was about the same as in last year's straw poll but that support for former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and former House speaker Newt Gingrich was cut by about half. Palin was at 7%, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty at 6%, Indiana Rep. Mike Pence at 6% and Gingrich and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee at 4%. Romney, Pawlenty, Pence and Gingrich had addressed this year's CPAC, but Palin had not. In the straw poll, a majority also said they were dissatisfied with the field of contenders for the 2012 nomination against President Obama. The announcement of the results brought gasps, cheers and a round of boos from a packed ballroom. The annual three-day conclave, hosted by the American Conservative Union, ended tonight with an address by Glenn Beck.