WASHINGTON — With the Republican presidential campaign poised to open, conservative activists signaled on Saturday that they were unsettled over who should win the party’s nomination, indicating a wide-open race for the right to challenge President Obama.There more at the link, but see Politico, "YAF kicks out Ron Paul."
For three days, prospective Republican presidential contenders delivered speeches at the Conservative Political Action Conference here, introducing themselves to influential figures who will help choose the nominee. The results of a straw poll on Saturday underscored the fluidity of the field.
Representative Ron Paul of Texas won the poll for the second year in a row, and Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, took second place. The results reflected the challenges that lie ahead for Republicans as they weigh arguments of electability over ideology and try to unite the party to defeat Mr. Obama.
Mr. Paul received 30 percent of the vote, and Mr. Romney won 23 percent. The rest of the potential contenders finished in single digits, including Sarah Palin, who declined an invitation to speak here; she received support from only 3 percent of the poll’s voters.
Organizers said that more than 10,000 people from across the country attended the conference, but only 3,742 of them participated in the straw poll, the results of which offer little indication of which candidate will emerge to take on the president. The tepid showing of many of the candidates underscored the problems they face as they seek to introduce themselves to Republican primary voters. The conference is intended to allow candidates to test the themes of their prospective candidacy.
I was up in the bloggers' lounge when the YAF folks started handing flyers with the announcement. The Paulbots make CPAC seem like a circus, or at least more so than would normally be the case at an event this large. Lots more at Memeorandum.
BONUS: David Weigel, "Two Pauls Are Better Than One: Father and son Ron and Rand Paul wow the crowd at CPAC." And, "CPAC 2011: The Straw Poll Aftermath."