When Mitt Romney returns to a favorite forum on Saturday, will he be able to make it three in a row?
The former Massachusetts governor has won the closely-watched presidential straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference in the past two years.
He even prevailed last February when he used the conference to announce he was quitting the GOP nomination race, making Senator John McCain the presumptive nominee. Romney drew 35 percent to 34 percent for McCain.
In a rousing speech, Romney hit all the hot buttons for conservatives, telling the conference he was ending his campaign so the party could unite. "In this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror," he said.
In the formative stages of the presidential race, Romney won the 2007 straw poll with 21 percent, with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani finishing second with 17 percent.
This year, the winner will be anointed the very early front-runner for 2012. The ballot includes besides Romney and Giuliani, Florida Governor Charlie Crist, former House speaker Newt Gingrich, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Texas Representative Ron Paul, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. There's also “Undecided” and a space on the ballot for write-ins.
Huckabee and Paul also ran last year, while Palin was McCain's running mate and Crist, Jindal, and Pawlenty were believed to be on McCain's short list for vice president.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.