March 1, 2015

As has been the case the last three years, Senator Rand Paul won CPAC's straw poll in 2015. His base (which comes from his retired father, Rep. Ron Paul) always comes out in strong support for their libertarian ideals.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul won the presidential straw poll at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference — his third such victory in a row. But Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker came in a strong second, reflecting a rising popularity among the GOP grassroots.

Paul earned 25.7 percent of the vote and Walker took 21.4 percent. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a favorite of the GOP establishment and donor class but not so much of the conservative base, finished fifth with 8 percent, results showed.

Many Republicans consider Walker more palatable to the party’s establishment than Paul, and in recent weeks the governor has been performing well in polls as Republicans take stock of the emerging GOP 2016 field. Walker’s showdowns with public-sector unions in his home state have won him admiration from right-leaning segments of the business community, but he’s also been hammering an anti-Washington theme that plays well with the grassroots.

Paul fared better in last year’s CPAC straw poll, taking 31 percent of the vote, well ahead of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s 11 percent and neurosurgeon Ben Carson’s 9 percent. In 2013, he won but it was closer: he picked up 25 percent of the vote, edging out Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who took 23 percent.

Cruz came in third this year, with support from 12 percent of the poll’s 3,007 respondents, just ahead of Carson, who garnered 11 percent support. Rubio, meanwhile, took seventh place, with 4 percent of the vote — a notably poor showing. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s 10th place finish with just 2.8 percent of the vote placed him behind real estate mogul Donald Trump, who snagged 3.5 percent, and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who earned 3 percent.

I'll always remember this awesome interview by Rachel Maddow soon after Rand had just celebrated some success in Kentucky. After that interview, Rand refused to go on national interviews at all until the general election was held. He was only the third guest in 62 years that cancelled a Meet the Press appearance that same weekend.

Rachel Maddow Corners Rand Paul On His Extremist Views Of Civil Rights

Maddow: Do you think a private business has the right to put up a 'Blacks Not Serverd Sign?'

Baby Paul: Well the interesting thing is if you look back to the 1950's, 1960's, that the problems we faced, there were incredible problems. The problems had to do with voting...blah, blah, blah.

Madow: I don't want to badger you, but I do want an answer on this sir, do you think a private business has the right not to serve black people?

Baby Paul: I'm against all discrimination of any kind, I wouldn't join a club .(my golf club is cool, though) but I think what's important about this debate is not to get into any gotcha on this but asking the question. What about freedom of speech. Should we limit speech. Should we limit racists from speaking?

Maddow: I'm asking straight you forward questions. Do you realize that businesses wouldn't let black people use the bathroom?

Baby Paul: I abhor racism. Am I a bad person because I hate racism?

Maddow: I'm asking you a yes or no question, Baby Paul. What about lunch counters? It's not a hypothetical.

Baby Paul: I'll give you a hypothetical. What about the owner of the restaurant? Should the government tell him that AK-47's aren't permitted in his place of business? That's when we're in a slippery slope, Rachel.

Maddow: This isn't a debate about the second amendment. People were beaten to death trying to stand up against racism at Woolworth's.

Baby Paul: I think you're conflating the issue...

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