How sad and pathetic is the effort to prop up Mitt Romney, to make him look like a viable candidate for 2012? Pretty sad.
As is done at every big political gathering, a straw poll was held at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans. These things are generally worthless as a predictor of who is a viable candidate though, Bill Frist won the previous poll at the SRLC, for example.
At this year’s CPAC event, Ron Paul won the polling, making a mockery of the entire process. In fact, so many shenanigans have been going on lately, there has been talk of ending the practice of conducting straw polls at these events altogether.
After the SRLC, that may just happen.
Now look, I’m all for competition, and certainly respect well organized efforts to support a favorite candidate, but this has just gotten ridiculous. What we are seeing now are ACORN style tactics by candidates and their supporters in order to win an absolutely meaningless poll!
Oh sure, they get a headline for a day, but so what?
When Ron Paul won the CPAC poll absolutely everyone knew it was because a group of supporters were paid to vote that way. That pay coming in the form of tickets to the event, in exchange for the vote. The same thing happened in New Orleans with not only the Ron Paul people, but the Mitt Romney people as well.
Look, no one has a problem with folks actively campaigning to win these things, as meaningless as they are. I mean a candidate gets some short term bragging rights, and for some, a little name recognition. I don’t even have a problem with folks advertising and handing out goodies. We wrote earlier about the tasty Alaskan treats Sarah Palin’s SarahPAC was handing out, in an effort to remind people to donate to the effort to fund Conservative victory this fall.
Mike Huckabee was there promoting HuckPAC, though I don’t know if his group were handing out premiums. The group "Evangelicals for Mitt" was handing out pink piggy banks with info about Romney. All of this is well and good, but the Romney group went a lot farther.
CBS News' Brian Montopoli reports:
I spoke to a young female delegate who said she planned to vote for Romney in the poll. I asked her how she had ended up at the conference.
She said Evangelicals for Mitt had contacted her and offered to pay for her to have a limited-access ticket — as long as she agreed to vote for Romney in the straw poll.
Asked how Evangelicals for Mitt got her name, she said she didn't know. But she said that she was on the e-mail list for Romney and speculated that the Romney team had given out their e-mail list.
The folks over at the Daily Paul got a hold of a copy of the "Evangelicals for Mitt" solicitation:
Subject: Calling All Socially Conservative Catholics, Evangelicals, Mormons, and Jews
Hey Fellow Mitt Supporters,
I’m the co-founder of an organization called "Evangelicals for Mitt" which is a grass roots political organization that supports Gov. Romney for President in 2012.
I’m writing because the Southern Republican Leadership Conference is the kick-off of the 2012 Presidential election, in New Orleans in April. "Evangelicals for Mitt" is trying to get people there who would vote for Gov. Romney in a straw poll there. It is customary for potential Presidential candidates to make an effort to get friendly people at the conference to help their showing in the straw polls, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.
If you have politically minded friends who’d be interested in the largest gathering before 2012 voting, please tell them about this offer. So far, Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, and Newt Gingrich have confirmed as speakers. Sadly, Gov. Romney is not a confirmed speaker — but all the more reason to show up and send him a message: Southerners Love Mitt!
A good time will be had by all, and it’s always a great deal of fun to participate in the democratic process in a small yet meaningful way. In addition to voting in the straw poll, we’ll provide tickets that will enable you to get into all of the speakers if there’s room. Also, you’ll have access to all of the break-out sessions, and a large Friday night party called The Taste of Louisiana. We’ll also have free autographed copies of Gov. Romney’s book "No Apologies" and tee shirts there, and there will also be plenty of great food!
Anyway, please fill out the below form and we’ll get you registered. Also, if you think you’d be able to help us find people to go vote for Mitt in the straw poll, or if you would be interested, please call or e-mail. I’m attaching the info that I’ll need from you below.
"Evangelicals for Mitt" is offering tickets to the SRLC for FREE (normally $119). Here is what attendees receive:
1) Access to the main sessions via live simulcast television. As space allows, during any session, you'll have access to the main ballroom.
2) Great food and hospitality at the Taste of Louisiana Party on Friday night. Trust me - you will experience some great food!
3) Complete access to breakout sessions, the exhibit hall, and the straw poll.
4) Not only will you have the opportunity to see many Conservative notables speak in person, but the Conference shares the weekend with the French Quarter Festival, where you can enjoy over 150 musical performances, as well as the cuisine and culture of the Big Easy. It's guaranteed to be a terrific weekend!
To be fair, Romney’s people claim no affiliation with "Evangelicals for Mitt" but questions remain. For example, how was the group able to obtain hundreds of autographed copies of Romney’s book? I know there are probably plenty of copies laying around, sales aren’t that brisk, but still, it takes some effort to get that many books signed. It takes coordination.
And then there is the question of the e-mail lists.
More than a few things bother me about this, besides the sheer ridiculousness of the effort to win a poll that everyone knows is meaningless because they are always skewed by the makeup of the attendees. We expect this nonsense out of the Ron Paul folks, but for a supposed "serious" contender, it just looks bad.
One thing that’s hard to get past is the fact that Romney was so conspicuous by his absence. Everyone who is anyone was there speaking to the crowd. Romney used the excuse he was on his book tour. Really? It’s not like he’s got huge crowds, or people sleeping outdoors, overnight, just to get a chance to see him. He could have put that little adventure on hold.
Maybe he’s avoiding a conservative gathering because he has no answer to the reasoning behind his epic failure: RomneyCare, as well as his continued defense of that disaster. And make no mistake about it, RomneyCare, which is both the blueprint for ObamaCare, as well as the canary in the coal mine, is a disaster of biblical proportions!
The thing that really bothers me though, besides the fact that Romney thinks he can buy his way into the presidency, is that while every serious speaker at the SRLC was concerned with 2010, and winning back Congress, this guy, who has nothing to add to the conversation, is so focused on 2012. It’s like he couldn’t care less about the fight ahead, just as long as he wins in 2012.
Where has Romney been while others have been fighting tooth and nail to save the Republic and stop Obama? He certainly can’t call Obama out on his government take over of health care, because RomneyCare is so similar. This is the fight of our lifetimes and Mitt Romney is on the wrong side of history!
We have real leaders out there fighting every single day. We have folks like Sarah Palin who stand up and take it to the Obama regime with gusto, never backing down, never failing to rise to the occasion. There are others as well who put forth a maximum effort daily. These real leaders are focused 100 percent on 2010 and winning back Congress. 2012 is a lifetime away, politically, and if we don’t succeed now, 2012 won’t matter much. There won’t be much of a country left to be President of.
I guess the real question is not whether or not it’s cool to buy your votes at a meaningless straw poll, in order to generate a favorable headline. No, the real questions are: Why do we need Mitt Romney? What good is he? What is he doing to advance the cause of liberty and freedom and help secure this nation from the enemies within? What is Romney doing to stop the Obama regime from destroying America?
So far as I can see, absolutely nothing.
Oh, in case you wondered, at the end of the day, Mitt Romney edged out Ron Paul by a single vote 439 to 438, a virtual tie for first place. Sarah Palin came in third, beating Newt Gingrich by nine votes, 330-321. No one else even came close; Mike Huckabee followed with 4% of the vote. Tim Pawlenty and Mike Pence got 3% each, Rick Santorum got 2%, and Gary Johnson got 1%.
There were 1800 total votes cast, which is about half the number of total attendees.
Interestingly, Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich topped the list of second choice selections.
I saw this comment online that seems to say it all:
Romney- Buys 500 $119 tickets= $59,500 =TIE FOR FIRST
Paul- Buys 800 $119 tickets= $95,200 =TIE FOR FIRST
Palin- Buys 500 Caribou Jerky= $1,500 = SECOND PLACE
WHICH ONE IS FISCALLY CONSERVATIVE?
WHICH ONE GOT MORE FOR THEIR MONEY?
That really does put it all in perspective, doesn't it.