Like his father before him, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is a two-time winner at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Paul was the big winner of Saturday’s CPAC straw poll, with 31 percent of about 2,500 votes, followed by fellow Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas with 11 percent and neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson with 9 percent.
“I am grateful to all the attendees who stood with me,” Paul said, according to Fox News. “Together we will fight for what is right. Thank you and onwards to victory.”
And like his father before him, Paul’s chief attraction is his libertarian edge – a huge draw in the charged atmosphere of a CPAC gathering that doesn’t always translate into votes among a broader Republican audience.
Paul’s father, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who won the CPAC straw poll in 2010 and 2011, generated a huge, passionate following among younger voters with his ardent defense of civil liberties during the last Republican primary contest, but never came near to stopping Mitt Romney’s drive for the nomination in 2012. (Romney also won the CPAC straw poll in 2012, but Ron Paul didn’t attend.)
The poll is a solid indicator of where conservative votes are going to be found – and how they can be lost.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was last year’s second place finisher with 23 percent. This year, after he spearheaded an immigration reform bill that passed the Senate last summer but remains stalled in the House, he picked up only 6 percent of the CPAC vote. (Rubio’s attempt to regain conservative support didn’t do the trick, according to conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham.)
Rand Paul, meanwhile, opposed the bill for border security reasons. Cruz calls it “amnesty.”
Sponsored by the Washington Times, the poll was conducted between Thursday and Saturday afternoon, and 2,459 votes were cast.
If you haven’t seen the CPAC speech Paul delivered Friday, check it out here.
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