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Frist's Uneven Address

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist struggled to ignite a home state crowd during his speech this afternoon at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference.

The Tennessee Senator went through a litany of conservative causes celebres including the removal of "activist" federal judges from the bench, balancing the budget, and cutting taxes. He also invoked the names of New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean -- the boogeymen (and woman) of the Democratic Party. "This is the difference between us and them," said Frist of the opposition party. "We know what we believe, we know where we stand, and we know where we are going. They are the party of no."

But, his delivery struggled to live up to his rhetoric as Frist was more often rewarded with polite -- rather than passionate -- applause. Frist has long labored under the stereotype that he is a wooden (and overrehearsed) speaker and he did little to remedy that problem today.

However, should Frist win the conference's straw poll, scheduled for tonight, his uneven performance this afternoon might well be forgotten. The conference is being held in Memphis's storied Peabody Hotel, and a stroll around the lobby shows that the Frist operation has dedicated significant time and resources to turning out their supporters this weekend. Frist hats and t-shirts abound. The question now is whether they will turn out the vote.

Check this space just after 9 pm eastern time for the straw poll results.

By Chris Cillizza  |  March 11, 2006; 4:40 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Next: Straw Poll Results

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