Alabama Political Reporter
Bound by a common desire to deny President Obama a second term, restive activists gathering Thursday for the 39th annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington find themselves lacking a clear champion in the suddenly scrambled Republican race to choose an alternative.
CPAC attendees — expected to number more than 6,000 from across the country — pride themselves on maintaining varying degrees of independence from the GOP. The three-day gathering kicks off two days after primaries and caucuses in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri raised doubts once again among conservative voters about presumed GOP front-runner Mitt Romney.
Rick Santorum, a social conservative and the big winner in Tuesday’s vote, “has energized his supporters and the family-issue conservatives coming to CPAC,” said Floyd Brown, president of the Western Center for Journalism, a conservative watchdog group, who works with conservative and tea party activists across the country.
“His victories may be a surprise to the GOP elite in Washington, D.C., but conservatives and tea party activists outside the Beltway are not ready to accept the designated Beltway choice, Mitt Romney,” Mr. Brown said.