The much-vaunted Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Oklahoma City ended this weekend. There were more than a few surprises as it set the tone for what is to come ahead of the first debates.
With the Iowa Straw Poll on so-called ‘death watch’, the SRLC’s impact on the burgeoning field of official GOP candidates has grown in recent weeks. Every national stage will provide critical exposure this cycle since there will be fewer large party confabs before the hopefuls have to battle it out in front of a national televised audience.
The conference, which drew more than 2,000 Republican faithful from states surrounding Oklahoma, had originally slated every major presidential candidate, with only a few exceptions.
Dynamics changed at the last moment, however, the Washington Examiner reported. Four candidates were prevented from attending the conference when the U.S. Senate was unable to budge from a scheduled vote on the Patriot Act.
With Sens. Cruz (who was supposed to keynote the event’s gala dinner), Rubio, Paul and Graham out of the line-up, attendees were treated to an increased spotlight for Walker, Bush, Christie, Perry, Jindal and Carson.
In the end, Carson pulled out a win in the event’s straw poll with 25% of the vote. But Walker emerged as with 20%. The major difference is that Carson’s campaign heavily organized beforehand. They bought 100 tickets for supporters and urged them to show up and vote, while Walker’s campaign did nothing.
Interestingly, the third place finish went to “other” with 18%. Sen. Cruz, who was expected to place high pulled only 16% with Christie, Perry, Bush and Paul following distantly behind at 5% or less each.