Mitt Romney is still the man, at least among the mostly young, mostly rabid conservatives at CPAC; he won the conference's straw poll for the next Republican Presidential nominee with 20 percent of the vote. That's three years in a row for Mitt.
As CPAC closes out to the dulcet tones of the right's dear leader, Rush Limbaugh, I have decided to update my ranking of the 25 most likely people to win the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination, made two months ago. I'll get to that below.
Just to wrap up for now about CPAC, however... The message from what I've seen is: Republicans -- and particularly George W. Bush -- blew it by deviating from true conservatism, thus handing the country over to the socialist Hollywood deviants, who are now going to destroy this country and all of Western civilization. But not to worry, because if Republicans return to true conservative principles, America will vote them back in and they'll fix everything and all will be well again.
I get that conferences like this are really pep rallies, to keep up the spirits of the true believers, and that's fine. But they really should keep it away from the press and not let the cameras in, because it's just really, really bad PR for them. You've got some of the biggest, most serious names in the party participating in a conference where, for example, the mention of Katie Couric's name, or her image on screen, is greeted with lusty boos. This is not how to mainstream yourself.
However, those Couric-haters might be fairly indicative of the shrinking GOP base who will show up to vote for a nominee in 2012. With that in mind, here's my new rankings -- with some shake-ups in the order near the top, and three new names joining the list. Previous ranking is in parentheses. Enjoy, and discuss!
1) Mark Sanford, Governor of South Carolina. Still the most likely, after straddling the stimulus issue, boldly declined a small amount of the money. (1)
25) Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida. Passing on 2010 Florida Senate race: does it mean he’s done with politics, or has something bigger in mind? Nah, probably done with politics, for a while anyway. (21)