We’re enjoying a quiet Sunday morning, packing for the drive home, while we reflect on an amazing weekend in New Orleans. I’ll share my more in-depth thoughts much later, but for now I thought our readers would enjoy seeing a roundup of major media coverage (with some of my favorite quotes). Oh, and at this very moment, we are the lead story on Drudge.
Mitt Romney may have taken a pass on the Southern Republican Leadership Conference this weekend, but his campaign did not.
There were banners hanging in the hallways of the Hilton Hotel – “Evangelicals for Mitt” – that spread his message in the style of the classic Burma Shave signs.
Marriage is a Moral Issue.
Job Creation is a Moral Issue.
Education is a Moral Issue.
Each sign was accompanied by another selling point for Mr. Romney. “You don’t have to choose between someone who saves our moral values and someone with economic expertise,” the sign said. “One guy has it all.”
In a surprise, Mitt Romney edged out Ron Paul to win the SRLC straw poll by a single vote.
Romney took 439 votes (24 percent) to Paul’s 438 votes (also 24 percent), a result that disappointed a Paul-heavy crowd that had stuck around to watch the results. Sarah Palin came in third with 330 votes (18 percent), and Newt Gingrich came in fourth with 321 votes (18 percent); Mike Huckabee, who did not attend the event, scored 4 percent. Total ballots cast: 1,806.
Romney, who also did not attend the conference, benefited from a grassroots effort from Evangelicals for Mitt, a group run by David and Nancy French — who’d helped Romney score a second-place finish at the 2006 SRLC. They’d purchased around 200 tickets, 800 copies of Romney’s book “No Apology,” and 2000 piggy banks with the Evangelicals for Mitt logo. Before the vote, French soft-peddled the meaning of the exercise, stressing that it was “not binding.” After the vote, French held court near the press boxes as his small team hugged and high-fived.
“Is that not incredible?” French said into a cell phone. “Our guy wasn’t even here!”
When I spoke to French, he stuck by his “not binding” comment, then basked in his victory. “We just wanted to show that Mitt has friends down here.”
The person who didn’t attend the Southern Republican Leadership Conference won the 2012 GOP presidential straw poll.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney won the straw poll by one vote over Rep. Ron Paul, 438-437.
Mitt Romney won the straw poll at the Southern Republican Leadership conference here Saturday in a victory that will be taken as a sign of the former Massachusetts governor’s strength as a 2012 presidential candidate.
Salon.com (this is actually one of my favorite stories):
Mitt Romney didn’t even show up here this weekend. But he still won the Southern Republican Leadership Conference straw poll — beating Ron Paul, who was here, by one vote, 439-438, and winning 24 percent of the ballots. Only about half the delegates cast a vote.
Sarah Palin was in third place, with 18 percent, and Newt Gingrich was just behind her in fourth, also with 18 percent.
. . . .
There was a heavy Romney presence at the conference, though, even if the candidate himself (like Tim Pawlenty) stayed out of town. A group called Evangelicals for Mitt co-sponsored a Friday night party, posted signs all over the Hilton and handed out buttons, Romney books and plastic piggie banks to get the word out for their man. “The thing that’s on everybody’s mind is ‘pocketbook,’” said Nancy French, who lives in Columbia, Tenn. and organized the group with her husband, David, a lawyer for the Christian conservative legal group Alliance Defense Fund. (They left for New Orleans this weekend even though they’re missing Mule Day back home.)
Oh, and I can’t forget the Atlantic story Charles already linked:
Formerly “nominal Republican frontrunner” Mitt Romney can drop nominal from the title.
At a gathering headlined by GOP superstars Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, and Newt Gingrich, it was Romney who took the crown jewel of the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, and he didn’t even bother showing up. He took the victory by single vote over Ron Paul, 439 to 438. Paul had a strong presence of vocal activists at the conference, but it was clear from the voting rank-and-file that his stances of nonintervention and opposition to free-trade agreements were not in line with the party as a whole.
Thank you, EFMers. This is your victory.