Rand Paul, R-KY ran away with this weekend's straw poll at the biannual meeting of republicans, garnering more than double the votes received by second place Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey. Paul won 188 votes or 36%, while Christie received 82 votes or 16%.
Other candidates included Jeb Bush in third with 42, Scott Walker, fourth with 39 votes, and Ted Cruz finished last with 36 votes. Paul commented that there must not have been many liberals at this year's meeting and expressed his satisfaction at winning, “It’s always exciting to place first in anything.”
The website for the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference shows that these meetings have been held every year since 1953. The 2011 winner was Mitt Romney, hardly a surprise, as his father, George, had been a popular governor there.
This year's speaking list included Paul and Walker, along with Rance Priebus the head of the RNC, Karl Rove, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, Bobby Jindal of La, and Sen. John Thune of ND.
Paul says he is in favor of tying the continuing resolution, to keep the government open to defunding Obamacare, “I still support the defund effort. I think it’s a bad idea to fund Obamacare. And I’m going to vote not to fund Obamacare.”
He was also pragmatic about it's chances: “I’ve always been realistic. And my hope always was that the using the leverage of the Republican House would try to create the situation where Obamacare is less bad. The more likely scenario is that we push hard for what we believe in — which is defund Obamacare — and that we try to bring the president to the negotiating table.”
Paul took the opportunity to criticise President Obama, who has accused the republicans of wanting to shut the government down. He has made the claim that republicans refuse to compromise, even though it was he who has sent a message to House Speaker, John Boehner, telling him he will not negotiate a debt ceiling hike, as has his spokesman, Jay Carney.
Paul took exception to the president's harsh words, “It’s completely the opposite. If he doesn’t get 100 percent of what he wants, every less ounce of Obamacare without any compromise, passed all by Democrats, unless he gets everything he wants, he’s willing to shutdown government. So really it is a matter of trying to get the facts right here. That the president is the one who is refusing to compromise.”
President Obama is ineligible to run in 2016.