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Pre-gaming the SRLC straw poll

Decisions by Mitt Romney and Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.) to skip the Southern Republican Leadership Conference have drained some of the buzz from the event's straw poll. In 2006, when the conference was held in Nashville, retiring Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) won the poll with 526 out of 1427 votes, but Romney's second-place showing was an early harbinger of how hard he was willing to organize (and how much he was willing to spend) to win over conservative activists.

This year, the candidate whose volunteers are most openly campaigning to win the poll is -- just as it was at February's CPAC -- Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.). If that happens, expect the importance of the poll to be soft-pedaled, oh, four or five nanoseconds after the results are announced. But this is Sarah Palin's first speech before Republican Party activists since 2008, this is Mike Huckabee's home turf, and Mitt Romney's supporters are tenacious. Below the fold is an e-mail that was sent to members of Evangelicals for Mitt (and forwarded to other Romney supporters) by the group's co-founder Nancy French.

UPDATE: To be clear, Mike Huckabee isn't coming to the conference -- he's just the only person on the straw poll who won primaries in, might run in 2012, and hails from the South.

Hey Fellow Mitt Supporters,

I’m the co-founder of an organization called “Evangelicals for Mitt” (www.EvangelicalsforMitt.org) which is a grass roots political organization that supports Gov. Romney for President in 2012.

I’m writing because the Southern Republican Leadership Conference is the kick-off of the 2012 Presidential election, in New Orleans from April 8-11, 2010. “Evangelicals for Mitt” is trying to get people there who would vote for Gov. Romney in a straw poll there. It is customary for potential Presidential candidates to make an effort to get friendly people at the conference to help their showing in the straw polls.

That’s what Evangelicals for Mitt is doing.

If you have politically minded friends who’d be interested in the largest gathering before 2012 voting, please tell them about this offer. So far, Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, and Newt Gingrich have confirmed as speakers. Sadly, Gov. Romney is not a confirmed speaker -- but all the more reason to show up and send him a message: Southerners Love Mitt! Here is the conference site:

http://www.srlc2010.com/ A good time will be had by all, and it’s always a great deal of fun to participate in the democratic process in a small yet meaningful way. In addition to voting in the straw poll, we’ll provide tickets that will enable you to get into all of the speakers if there’s room. Also, you’ll have access to all of the break-out sessions, and a large Friday night party called The Taste of Louisiana. We’ll also have free autographed copies of Gov. Romney’s book “No Apologies” and tee shirts there, and there will also be plenty of great food!

Anyway, please fill out the below form and we’ll get you registered to attend. Also, if you think you’d be able to help us find people to vote for Mitt in the straw poll on April 8th from noon til 5pm, or if you would be interested, please call or e-mail. I’m attaching the info that I’ll need from you below.

Thanks!
Nancy

By David Weigel  |  April 7, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  2012 Election , Mitt Romney , Tim Pawlenty  
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