Romney campaign buys victory in CPAC presidential straw poll.
Less than a third of attendees actually voted.
WASHINGTON, DC (MARCH 1-3, 2007). Mitt Romney's campaign spokesman told the New York Times that the Romney campaign planned to have "at least" 225 student volunteers at the Conservative Political Action Convention (CPAC) conference. And as far as we could tell, there were at least that many. The place was certainly packed with them, most of whom were wearing blue "Mitt Romney" T-shirts and either holding signs or passing out literature.
(See the New York Times article, "Romney focuses on conservative straw poll".)
All of the student volunteers we talked to said the Romney campaign paid their admission fee to CPAC and, according to the Times article, some had their transportation and hotel paid for. The goal was clearly to win the straw poll, and and all of them were eligible to vote in it.
Given the fact that Romney won the straw poll by only 69 votes, well, you do the math. The Romney contingent dwarfed all the others. Brownback had maybe a dozen or so people, and Gilmore had a handful.
CPAC 2007 STRAW POLL FOR PRESIDENT
Of 1705 votes for "First Choice" for president:
Romney: 21% 358
Guliani: 17% 289
Brownback: 15% 256
Gingrich: 14% 239
McCain: 12% 205
(Others got less than 5%)
NOTE: Difference between Romney & Guiliani is 69 votes.
Total CPAC 2007 Attendees: approx. 5,000.
We talked to many of the Romney student volunteers. Most seemed to be from the local area, but others were from places like New York, Ohio, and even California. Some were Mormons, they said, and others were not. The Romney campaign used innovative methods such as "FaceBook" to recruit college students. A lot of them didn't seem to know much about Romney's positions or history. They seemed like energetic college students wanting something useful to do.
The Romney people were also extremely well-coordinated. They were directed exactly what to do and when to do it, culminated by a big, loud showing when Mitt Romney made his speech on Friday afternoon.
Even some Romney hangers-on, like Jay Sekulow, head of American Center for Law and Justice, were there to help. When we talked to him, Jay criticized us for our stand on Romney's failure to uphold the Constitution on same-sex "marriage", but otherwise was reasonably polite.
The young Mittsters didn't quite know how to handle the anti-Romney turnout, which included thousands of copies of the "Mitt Romney 20-question quiz", Mitt Romney flip-flops being distributed, and "Rudy McRomney" stickers. Also, an anti-Romney dolphin named "Flipper" wandered the halls muttering about various Romney flip-flops.
Romney's speech was perfectly tailored for the young, conservative crowd. It was upbeat and full of great-sounding claims, such as the "fact" that he balanced the budget without raising taxes (he actually raised business taxes by $500 million) and that he stood for every child having a mother and a father (although he also supports homosexual adoption). And he railed against judicial activism, although he refused to back a bill of address in the Mass. legislature to remove activist judges.
Romney also said he supports a Marshall Plan-like program for having America build up the economies of "moderate" Muslim nations. That one took some people by surprise, but we'll probably be hearing more of it in the coming weeks, as the media dissects that idea.
Some quotes from Romney's CPAC speech:
"It's good to be with so many conservatives. In fact, I invited all the conservatives in Massachusetts to come hear me today and I'm glad to report that they are both here."
"Massachusetts became center stage for the liberal social agenda – sort of San Francisco east, Nancy Pelosi style. . .I have stood in the center of the battlefield on every major social issue. I fought to preserve our traditional values and to protect the sanctity of life."
"We need more men and women in the military, better armaments, and a Strategic Defense Initiative. And there's a second aspect of our strategy: we must bring together all the civilized nations of the world in what might be called a Second Marshall Plan. Together with them, and with volunteers, businesses and NGOs, we must support moderate Muslim nations and peoples. They need public schools that are not Wahabi schools, the rule of law, property rights, modern banking and agriculture and pro-growth economic policies. In the end, it is the Muslim people themselves who will eliminate radical jihad."
Read entire speech here.
Everywhere you looked there were little "Mittsters" in blue "Mitt Romney" T-shirts hitting on everyone. All told, Mitt brought in well over 200 of them, according to press reports.
"Flipper" gets interviewed by a reporter. Flipper's shirt says: "Flip Romney: Just another Flip Flopper From Massachusetts."
Quite a few "Rudy McRomney" stickers were seen. This got reported in the Boston Globe, NY Times, and other places.
Three colors of Romney flip-flops were passed out. (We wish we'd thought of it first.)
American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) leader Jay Sekulow (right) wearing Romney sticker, campaigns with Romney crowd.
When Romney talked, his supporters were there and cheered loudly.
After Romney's speech, part of the Romney army waits outside for transportation.