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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Rand Paul wins 2015 CPAC straw poll

    Rand Paul wins 2015 CPAC straw poll

    Published February 28, 2015

    Feb. 27, 2015: Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md. (AP)

    DEVELOPING: Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul won the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll for potential White House candidates for the third consecutive year.

    He finished with 26 percent of the vote, ahead of Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker, who finished with 21 percent of the vote.

    Former Florida GOP Gov. Jeb Bush, a popular establishment candidate who has struggled to reconnect with conservatives, finished in fifth place, with 8 percent of the vote.

    The poll was conducted over the conference’s three days of seminars and speeches by most the leading potential Republican candidates.

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, consider a top-flight candidate since the 2012 presidential elections, finished last with 2.8 percent of the vote.

    His would-be candidacy has since been plagues by the political scandal known as BridgeGate, an up-and-down state economy and his reputation of being a hot head.

    Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz finished in third place with 11.5 percent of the vote, followed by retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson in fourth with 11 percent of the vote.

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  2. #2
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Young CPACers: Forget purity, let's try to win

    Interviews with nearly two dozen younger attendees reveal a laser-like focus on electability.


    2/28/15 10:02 AM EST

    NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The young people who flooded this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference may long to see a Republican president who never compromises on principles.

    First, though, they’ll settle for someone who can actually win.

    Interviews with nearly two dozen younger attendees at the confab here revealed a laser-like focus on electability amid awareness that Hillary Clinton could prove a powerful Democratic opponent in 2016. The desire for an electable candidate — even one who is ideologically imperfect — was top-of-mind for a wide range of attendees, from the bearded libertarians to the buttoned-up College Republicans.

    “We have to beat Hillary Clinton,” said Laura Meyers, a sophomore at Kansas State. “I will sacrifice complete agreement for the reality of being a winner.”

    Republicans attack Clinton from every angle


    The wounds of 2012 are still fresh on the minds of the younger set at CPAC; many cast their first presidential vote that year. What they saw was a long, divisive GOP primary in which candidates faced litmus tests on issues from immigration to taxes. The eventual GOP nominee, Mitt Romney, was a relative moderate, but he took several stands to appeal to the most conservative wing of his party that later cost him in the general election.

    This time around, there’s no definitive frontrunner in the emerging Republican presidential field, and it was clear that the younger activists here have no consensus about who it should be, either.

    Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, for instance, has long been a dominant figure at CPAC. Red “Stand with Rand” T-shirts and pins were ubiquitous at the event, as was the libertarian-leaning Paul himself.

    He dropped by a College Republicans gathering Thursday evening but spoke for less than a minute because he had several other events to do. At least one attendee was near tears when he ducked out before she could take a selfie.

    But Paul’s cautious approach on foreign policy, among other positions, has generated skepticism from the GOP establishment.

    And Paul is less of a libertarian purist than his dad, former Rep. Ron Paul, a failed presidential candidate who fans such as CPAC attendee Mike Battey said was “too good, too honest, not enough of a politician” to appeal to mainstream Republicans.

    Still, Rand Paul is getting support from Battey because the Stony Brook University senior thinks he’s got what it takes to win the presidency. “You have to play the game, and if you’re not willing to play the game, you’re never going to get elected,” Battey said.

    Other young voters pointed to Scott Walker as a candidate who is palatable to multiple wings of the GOP. The Wisconsin governor earned a thunderous reception and cheers of “Run, Scott, Run” during his speech on Thursday. At 7:30 Friday morning, following a night that at CPAC is traditionally reserved for partying, about 100 college students packed an overheated hotel room to see Walker.

    Walker, who was introduced by his son, Matt — the Midwestern vice chair for the College Republican National Committee — said that to defeat a candidate such as Clinton, Republicans need “a nominee who’s a new, fresh face, who comes from outside of Washington, with big bold ideas, and most importantly, has the courage and experience to show they can actually put those ideas into action.”

    “He’s able to unite the whole Republican Party, uniting everyone, getting everyone on the same page,” said Aubrey Carroll, a senior at the University of Connecticut. “He’s absolutely more electable.”

    CPAC is not a Republican establishment stronghold, but it’s also not clear how representative the crowd here is of the GOP base.

    Jeb Bush survives


    Young Americans for Liberty, a group with ties to Ron Paul, coordinated with many libertarian-leaning students to get them discounted rates and help orchestrate their trip, according to multiple students in attendance. Many of the College Republican chapters at CPAC hailed from the more moderate Northeast and upper Midwest.

    Social conservatives don’t dominate CPAC, either; many in the crowd support same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization.

    The annual confab remains an early gauge of which candidate is capturing the imaginations of some of the party’s most committed young activists, though in interviews it was clear that attendees weren’t even united on what it takes to be electable.

    The grassroots conservative activists are deeply skeptical of moderates, saying those are the kinds of GOP nominees who lost the last two elections. The more moderate activists shudder at memories of how Romney alienated Hispanic voters by lunging to the right with his recommendation that undocumented immigrants “self-deport.”

    Jeb Bush poses with the CPAC crowd / M. Scott Mahaskey / POLITICO
    Perhaps no likely 2016 candidate better captures the dilemma than Jeb Bush. The former Florida governor and scion of a political dynasty is already a favorite of the GOP establishment crowd and donor class. But although on many levels he has a very conservative track record, his support for immigration reform and the Common Core educational standards have infuriated many in the base.

    But Bush received a warm reception from the College Republicans on Friday evening. It was a bright spot for him after enduring heckling and a walk-out during his speech to the broader convention, an appearance he nonetheless managed to weather.

    At the College Republicans event, held at a bar near the convention center, Bush ascended the stage to chants of “Jeb! Jeb! Jeb!” There, he offered encouragement to young Republicans on liberal campuses.

    One student was so overwhelmed with excitement after receiving a hug from Bush that she ran off the stage, apparently in tears (she later described it as a joyful display of emotion).

    Bush’s appearance thrilled Leo Marquez, the president of College Republicans at Central Washington University, who, as a Hispanic voter himself, praised Bush’s support for immigration reform. “If the Republican Party wants to win in 2016, you have to have the Hispanic vote,” Marquez said.

    Santorum makes a Kenya joke about Obama


    Other likely candidates generating some buzz included Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon, and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Cruz, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina all dropped by gatherings organized by the College Republicans.

    Cruz is a hero to social conservatives and other corners of the GOP base, but even some of Cruz’s most ardent supporters expressed doubts that he could win a general election if he captures the Republican nomination, pointing to his deeply conservative record.

    Yet they also said they didn’t care.

    The word “electability” suggests “you should subvert morals and taste and preference to the idea that something is palatable across the board — that you should take the OK over the great,” said Joe Morris, a senior at the State University of New York at Albany. “I would rather feel comfortable [with my] choice and know that my choice lost but was the right one.”

    Joe Buzard, a 21-year-old from the Pittsburgh area, agreed that “Ted’s pretty good.” But Buzard, a Walker fan, added, “We’ve got to find someone that can win.”

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