At the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), every GOP presidential candidate but Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) tried to stake a claim for conservative support. The results of CPAC's presidential straw poll indicate that voters are grappling to find candidates whose platform addresses both the crisis abroad and the dilemmas at home.
Of 1,705 registrants, 21 percent backed former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) for President. Rudy Giuliani, who was given a prime-time slot at the event, came in second-place with just 17 percent of the vote. Senator Sam Brownback received 15%. The poll also surveyed conservatives for their opinion on what the government's priorities ought to be. Half responded that "their most important goal is to promote individual freedom by reducing the size of government."
However, what voters considered the second biggest concern wasn't national security or immigration, but "promoting traditional values by protecting marriage and the life of the unborn." Although attendees deemed marriage and life priorities, CPAC organizers did not. Neither issue was highlighted during the three-day conference. These results are indicative of the greater divide in the GOP.
Contrary to what pundits said in the aftermath of the 2006 election, values voters are still a force to be reckoned with. This is even more evident in the CPAC split over the 2008 conservative frontrunner. Social conservatives are looking for a Commander-in-Chief who will provide bold leadership in tackling both the internal threats brought about by social decay and the external threats posed by radical Islamists.