CPAC is underway this weekend this weekend at Washington D.C.’s Omni-Shoreham Hotel. Among the highlights of the annual conservative gathering is the presidential straw poll, the results of which are revealed and dissected at the end of the conference.
CNN reports that this year’s choices include:
- Florida Gov. Charlie Crist
- former House speaker Newt Gingrich
- former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani
- former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee
- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal
- Texas Rep. Ron Paul
- Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin
- Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty
- former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney
- South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford
- Write-in candidate
In my (very) early view on the 2012 GOP field, the candidates to watch right now are Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal and Mitt Romney.
Palin generated a lot of excitement among the base with her heartfelt social conservatism and her unbridled personal congeniality. Jindal is the new kid on the block whose natural assets are attracting a lot of attention: young, intelligent, successful, and a minority. Romney became the clear conservative alternative to McCain in 2008, and is positioning himself smartly for another run. He’s young, can raise money, and I don’t think it’s going out on a limb to say that he would have been a far more capable nominee than McCain to take on Obama on the eoncomy.
Pawlenty, Sanford and Crist could also rightly attract some attention. Most of the others have fatal flaws (Giuliani), have a built-ceiling (Paul) or won’t run in the first place (Gingrich).
The CPAC straw poll results should be announced Sunday. It will be an interesting indication of where much of the party’s base attentions and affections lie at the moment. But remember, it’s way too early to determine a front-runner.