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Romney Wins CPAC Straw Poll; Jindal Second

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) won the Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll for the second year in a row on Saturday, garnering 20 percent of the vote and besting his closest competitor, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), by 6 points.

In the poll, which asked CPAC attendees whom they would vote for in the 2012 Republican primaries, Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin tied for third place with 13 percent each and were followed by former Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) at 10 percent, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 7 percent, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani at 3 percent, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty at 2 percent and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist at 1 percent.

Romney’s victory solidified the overarching message spread during the 2009 meeting of the Republican Party’s most conservative members: The party’s ideas were solid; it was merely the political climate and unpopularity of President George W. Bush that delivered the party its second consecutive major electoral loss in November.

Romney delivered a wildly popular speech on Friday evening to the packed ballroom at the Omni Shorham hotel in Washington, D.C., calling the conservative movement essential to the country’s future success.

“Some critics speak as if we need to redefine conservatism. I think that misses the mark,” he said. “America’s challenges are different from year to year, but our defining principles remain the same.”

Pawlenty, a relative newcomer to the national political scene, who spoke to a nearly full auditorium on Saturday, stressed the importance of converting Democrats into Republicans in order to gain back the majorities in Congress and to win the presidency in 2012.

“Do not ever give up, do not doubt, do not give in. Understand that our principles, our values are right. All we’re lacking is the energy to get out and reach out to voters that are not conservative. We can do this because our ideas and values are the right ones,” Pawlenty said.

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