Ron Paul continues to excite a lot of Republican activists. As I've long said, there is a sizable libertarian wing of the Republican Party.
NEW ORLEANS -- Texas Rep. Ron Paul, riding the strength of his loyal, passionate -- and mostly young -- libertarian-minded enthusiasts, captured the presidential straw vote Saturday at the Republican Leadership Conference.
Texas Congressman Ron Paul
Out of 1,542 votes cast, the Texas congressman and libertarian hero earned 618 of them -- a decisive 39.7 percent in a field of 10. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who cancelled his scheduled appearance here due to a summer cold -- and whose aggressive straw vote efforts took place beneath the radar and were rumored to include paying the way of his supporters to New Orleans -- was second with 24.8 percent. Michele Bachmann came in third at 12.4 percent.
Mitt Romney, who leads the GOP field in fundraising, name identification and national polling, finished a distant fifth, behind pizza magnate Herman Cain. Romney, who made a point of not signing a sweeping pro-life pledge offered by the Susan B. Anthony List because he thought it went too far, did not even reach 5 percent. The rest of the field, in order, was Newt Gingrich (4.5 percent), Sarah Palin (2.7 percent), Rick Santorum (2 percent), Tim Pawlenty (1.2 percent), and Gary Johnson and Buddy Roemer with less than 1 percent each.
|Texas Governor Rick Perry|
The article continues, noting that Texas Governor Rick Perry spoke at the event and was well received:
Among the Republicans in attendance here, the anticipation Saturday wasn't for the straw vote results or Ron Paul, however. It was for the arrival of another Texas politician, Gov. Rick Perry, who wasn't listed on the straw poll ballot and who has so far left only cryptic hints that he might run for president in 2012. But Perry arrived here amid much fanfare late Saturday afternoon, and delivered a rousing and well-received speech to a packed auditorium.To see the rest of the article, click here.
After three days and dozens of speeches bashing President Obama and liberalism, this crowd didn't need to hear a lot more of it, but Perry distilled his critique of the administration into a single phrase: "Too much interference, too much spending, and too much apologizing."
Displaying undeniable presence from the podium, Perry did the obligatory invoking of Ronald Reagan, but to a specific purpose: to forcefully assert his view that the two great strains of the modern Republican Party -- economic libertarianism and social conservatism -- are not incompatible. "Our party cannot listen to our loudest opponents on the left," he said, in a subtle dig at Mitt Romney. "They are never going to like us, so it's time we stopped trying to curry favor with them."
When he finished, the crowd rose to its feet and -- in the loudest and most spontaneous demonstration of the three-day meeting -- broke into a clapping chant, "Run, Rick, run! Run, Rick, run!"
The hall emptied after Perry finished, and as the crowd filed out, one Republican, Robert C. Munger of New Orleans, said, "That's the next president of the United States." He added: "They're all good -- there's not a bad candidate up there -- but he's the best we've got. He's got the fire and the experience. He's a proven product. Just look at the state of Texas, where it is today."
Whether Perry will heed this call -- and whether any of this theater in New Orleans this weekend will matter when the voting actually commences next year -- remains to be seen. Romney, Pawlenty, and Huntsman did not show up here this week. The other four candidates who appeared in Monday's New Hampshire debate -- Paul, Bachmann, Gingrich and Herman Cain -- did make the scene, as did former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer. ...
I'm still trying to learn all the candidates' positions on the issues to see who I want to support. Obviously, I'm not interested in RINO Romney, although organizationally I expect him to be one of the two remaining Republican finalists. I'm looking for the alternative to Romney, a candidate who can put together fiscal and social conservatives, the formula required for Republicans to win presidential elections for the past 50 years. I like the fact Perry, unlike most of the other Republican candidates, didn't buy into the man is causing dangerous global warming junk science that public opinion has now turned sharply against. I also like that Perry has a more moderate opinion on immigration and has strong Latino support. I have yet to hear a good case against Perry. He certainly seems to have charisma that a lot of other candidates, such as former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty does not have.
Still, after my 2008 election interest in having actor and then Senator Fred Thompson run for President, I've learned that when a candidate delays entering the race, as Thompson did, it might be a sign he doesn't have the fire in the belly necessary to make the personal sacrifice necessary to win a grueling nomination to be President. The fact that Perry is still holding out from getting in makes me concerned he doesn't want it badly enough.