Rand Paul wins CPAC straw poll, Scott Walker close second

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Posted: Feb 28, 2015 8:21 PM
Rand Paul wins CPAC straw poll, Scott Walker close second

OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has won the Conservative Political Action Conference's annual presidential preference straw poll.

Pollsters announced Saturday that Paul won 25.7 percent of the votes in the annual survey, giving Paul his third consecutive win in as many years.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker came in second, with 21.4 percent. Sen. Ted Cruz came in third in the contest with 11.5 percent, followed by retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson with 11.4 percent and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush with 8.3 percent. All of the other names listed received under 5 percent.

The three-day CPAC conference in suburban Washington draws many libertarian-leaning college students whose views and priorities differ significantly from the Republican Party at large. But it is nonetheless seen as a barometer of certain conservative activists' early leanings.

Pollsters said just over 3,000 attendees voted. Nearly half identified as between the ages of 18 and 25.

Respondents said economic issues, like jobs and taxes, were most important to them in deciding whom to support as the Republican nominee for president in 2016.

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What near-miss on a Department of Homeland Security shutdown?

To hear Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers address activists at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday, there were no hints of an intraparty fight the night before that led to the brink of a partial shutdown of the agency tasked with border control and anti-terrorism. In her remarks, the Republican Conference chairwoman made no mention of the standoff that split conservatives from establishment Republican lawmakers.

"I've lived the American Dream, but, sadly, for too many, the American Dream is fading," said McMorris Rogers, the fourth-ranking Republican in the House leadership and the top House lawmaker to appear on CPAC's main stage.

In her remarks, she reminisced about her childhood on a Washington state orchard and spoke of her disagreements with President Barack Obama. She was silent on the drama that unfolded nearby a day earlier, perhaps because it's unclear whether the GOP has an answer to avoid a repeat of what Congresswdcpho — and the nation — had just weathered.

Late Friday, the House Republicans refused to adopt a three-week spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security. Many conservatives insisted that no cash would go to the department unless Obama's executive orders on immigration were voided.

A stopgap, one-week accord won last-minute passage, and Obama signed it into law. But that sets up a similar showdown in less than a week.

McMorris Rogers was asked after the speech if the process would improve next week. "I don't think it will be any worse," she said.

She also said it is important for House Republicans to work with Senate Republicans to avoid a similar crisis.

Even though House Republicans have large numbers on their side, they aren't enough to ensure the party can line up a majority on contentious issues. The GOP advantage is 245-188 with two vacancies.