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Huff Post- First Posted: 02/12/2012 11:26 am Updated: 02/12/2012 12:44 pm

By- Sam Stein

Mitt Romney scored two minor but symbolically important victories on Saturday — a first-place finish in the CPAC Straw poll and a win in the Maine caucus — each of which set off accusations of foul play from the second place finisher.

In an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) suggested that Romney had doctored the results of the CPAC contest.

“I don’t try to rig straw polls,” he said. “You have to talk to the Romney campaign and how many tickets they bought… We’ve heard all sorts of things.”

Meanwhile, late Saturday night, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) sent an email to supporters that essentially alleged collusion between the Romney campaign and the Maine Republican Party without actually mentioning Romney by name. A portion of the email is below:

In Washington County — where Ron Paul was incredibly strong — the caucus was delayed until next week just so the votes wouldn’t be reported by the national media today.  Of course, their excuse for the delay was “snow.”  That’s right. A prediction of 3-4 inches — that turned into nothing more than a dusting — was enough for a local GOP official to postpone the caucuses just so the results wouldn’t be reported tonight.  This is MAINE we’re talking about. The GIRL SCOUTS had an event today in Washington County that wasn’t cancelled!  And just the votes of Washington County would have been enough to put us over the top.

The Romney campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. And it’s hard to imagine that they will take the accusations all that seriously, at least with respect to the CPAC result. Santorum, after all, could have bought tickets just like Romney allegedly did. He didn’t.

As for Maine, the real story there is not that Romney won but that Ron Paul and his campaign have been left so aggrieved. The Paul and Romney campaigns have been in a détente since the campaign started, with each candidate expressing admiration for the other. It’s unclear whether that changes now, but it certainly doesn’t help Romney to have Paul’s legion of backers believe that he stole a caucus, no matter how minor, from their still-bare win column.

UPDATE: The Romney campaign does, in fact, choose to engage Santorum, with the following statement from spokesperson Andrea Saul.

Rick Santorum has a history of making statements that aren’t grounded in the truth. Yesterday Mitt Romney won the CPAC straw poll and won a separate nationwide survey of conservatives conducted by CPAC  organizers. Also, Mitt Romney won the Maine caucuses. Conservative voters recognize that in order to change Washington, we need someone who isn’t a creature of Washington.

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Huff Post – Posted: 2/11/12  |  Updated: 2/11/12

Mitt Romney won this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) straw poll.

Rick Santorum came in second, with Newt Gingrich in third place and Ron Paul in fourth. Here’s a breakdown of the results for the presidential contenders:

Romney: 38%

Santorum: 31%

Gingrich: 15%

Paul: 12%

Romney addressed the crowd at CPAC on Friday.

“My path to conservatism came from my family, from my faith and from my life’s work,” the former Massachusetts governor said in his remarks. “Those aren’t values that I just talk about. They’re values I live every day.”

HuffPost’s Jon Ward reported on the message conveyed by Romney:

Romney defended his one term as governor of Massachusetts, saying he erased a large deficit to balance the budget, eliminated government agencies and applied the lessons of private enterprise to running the state government.”I want to get my hands on Washington, DC,” Romney said.

He detailed a laundry list of pledges to the crowd about social issues, saying that if elected president he would fight for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman, that he would reinstate the Mexico City policy, that he would cut off funding for the United Nations Population Fund — which he said “supports China’s barbaric One Child Policy” — and that he would cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

Paul placed first in the CPAC straw poll in 2010 and 2011.

This is a developing story… More information to come…

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First Posted: 02/ 9/2012 12:02 pm Updated: 02/ 9/2012  1:16 pm

Huff Post

By – Howard Fineman

WASHINGTON — Conservatives begin their annual jamboree here Thursday certain of two things, although they don’t say them out loud. They need another Ronald Reagan. They don’t have another Ronald Reagan.

Invoking the Gipper is almost a religious requirement on the Republican campaign trail this year, but none of the presidential candidates is convincingly channeling the true Reagan spirit: He spent a lifetime thinking through the conservative movement and turning it into a salable set of ideas.

Rather than serving as a unifying moment, the four-day Conservative Political Action Conference, now in its 39th year, has become a symbol of a sprawling, ultimately incoherent movement that has yet to develop a new synthesis for a new century.

“The one thing that unites everybody is a hatred of Barack Obama,” said Craig Shirley, a CPAC veteran and one of Reagan’s newest and best biographers. “But hatred of the president is not a governing philosophy.”

The 2012 GOP race is divided into the shards of the old alliance, with Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul each appealing to different pieces of the now-shattered right and Mitt Romney acting the colorless “establishment” leader in a party without them. It feels more like the end of an era than the beginning of one, even though, paradoxically, this year’s CPAC may well set a record for attendance and revenue.

Once CPAC was a launching pad for presidents, especially Reagan. This week, the Woodstock of the Right looks more like a trade show for new products. Somewhere in the crowded corridors and meeting rooms, there may be a new generation in the making. But you’re unlikely to hear it in speeches from the presidential candidates.

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Exclusive: Frank Gaffney Was Barred From Participating In CPAC, So He Invented A Reason To ‘Boycott’ It

Think Progress- By Alex Seitz-Wald at 11:00 am

Frank Gaffney has been a leading figure in the neoconservative movement for over two decades, having served in the Reagan Pentagon and founded a national security think tank. But Gaffney was absent from the panels and podiums at the year’s biggest conservative conference, CPAC, despite having spoken at the annual event held this weekend for the past 15 years. Gaffney had vowed to boycott the conference this year because, he claimed, it had been infiltrated by Islamic extremists. Specifically, he pointed to Grover Norquist, the influential anti-tax activist, and Suhail Kahn, who directed Muslims outreach efforts for the Bush White House. He accuses the two of being moles for the Muslim Brotherhood.

However, ThinkProgress has learned that Gaffney was actually prohibited from participating in CAPC — disinvited from speaking this year by conference organizers fed up with his increasingly vicious attacks on fellow conservative leaders. Indeed, Gaffney appears to have invented the entire theory about the Muslim Brotherhood infiltrating CPAC as a pretext to explain his absence from the event.

A source close to conference organizers told ThinkProgress that Gaffney was “specifically not to be invited” to speak at the conference this year because CPAC Chairman David Keene and other conservative were “sick of him” attacking other conservatives. “The whole boycott thing was just to save face,” the source said. (Gaffney did show up to CPAC to conduct some interviews, including one with ThinkProgress, but did not participate in any official capacity).

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DNC Blasts Republicans Over CPAC Talking Points (VIDEO)

HuffPost- First Posted: 02/14/11 10:03 AM Updated: 02/14/11 10:23 AM

The Democratic National Committee launched a new web video over the weekend meant to portray the GOP as a party committed to driving regressive policies.

Pulling clips from some of the biggest speeches at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the video shows leading Republicans arguing for such things as abolishing the Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency, repealing the health care law, and pushing for the privatization of Social Security.

In one of the DNC’s first official forays into the forthcoming campaign, their video argues that the messages given in the speeches by top conservatives and potential 2012 candidates such as Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) don’t work toward the GOP’s stated goal of addressing jobs and the economy.

The video then contrasts these snippets with footage of some top-talking Democrats, including President Barack Obama during his State of the Union address, discussing plans to stimulate job growth and domestic production, promising to “do big things.”

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CPAC Straw Poll 2011: Ron Paul Wins For Second Consecutive Year

HuffPost- First Posted: 02-12-11 05:11 PM   |   Updated: 02-13-11 12:57 AM

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) came out on top in the much-anticipated 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll, according to Fox News.

Human Events confirmed that the Republican congressman won the vote before the results were officially announced. Here’s a breakdown of the numbers:

Ron Raul: 30%, Mitt Romney: 23%, Gary Johnson 6%, Chris Christie 6%, Newt Gingrich: 5%, Tim Pawlenty 4%, Michele Bachmann 4%, Mitch Daniels 4%, Sarah Palin: 3%, Herman Cain 2%, Mike Huckabee 2%, Rick Santorum 2%, John Thune 2%, Jon Huntsman 1%, Haley Barbour 1%

According to CNN, 3,742 votes were cast at the event held in Washington, DC.

Paul also emerged ahead of the pack in the CPAC straw poll at last year’s conference.

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Yuck it up, CPACers, the joke’s on you

Conservative activists spend three days giddily forecasting a return to power in 2012. History suggests otherwise

Salon- By Steve Kornacki
Saturday, Feb 20, 2010 18:20 EST

The man who assured us we’d be greeted as liberators in Iraq dropped in on this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference to make yet another prediction.

“I think that Barack Obama is going to be a one-term president,” Dick Cheney declared on Thursday.

The assembled righties roared – as they did whenever a speaker at the three-day conference forecasted a 2012 victory for the GOP. To watch CPAC was to realize that the right can be described in one word today: cocky. They have no doubt that Obama will be defeated in 2012; the only question is whether it’ll be Mitt, Sarah, Mike or Mitch replacing him.

You’ll excuse me if I rain on their parade, but there’s a source with just a little more credibility than Dick Cheney that would beg to differ: history.

The right is giddy because Obama’s approval rating, stratospheric just a year ago, now hovers around 50 percent and because his party, practically invincible in the 2008 and 2006 elections, is suddenly facing long odds in one key midterm election race after another. The nation’s political climate, indisputably, has been transformed since Obama took office, and Republicans are now on course for a strong year in 2010.

But this is where history comes in. Obama is actually the third president in the last 30 years – the “permanent campaign” era of American politics – to see his political fortunes crater in the second year of his administration. Bill Clinton in 1994 and Ronald Reagan in 1982 both endured the kind of political hell that Obama is now starting to taste (one-termer taunts and all) – and both bounced back to win lopsided re-election victories two years later.

The Clinton and Reagan comeback stories aren’t identical, but they do offer obvious cautionary lessons for those who would write off Obama today.

(more…)

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