Ben Carson was the top vote-getter in a 2016 presidential straw poll at the weekend’s Western Conservative Summit in Denver, The Denver Post reported
Carson, a retired neurosurgeon turned political columnist, garnered 22 percent of the votes cast by 666 of the conference’s 3,300 attendees. He was followed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz with 13 percent and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin with 12 percent.
Others who finished in the top 10 were Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Sen. Rick Santorum, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey, former Florida Rep. Allen West and Wisconsin Sen. Paul Ryan.
The three-day summit included dozens of speakers affiliated with the tea party, such as Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin and former Florida Rep. Allen West.
Former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, now president of the conservative Heritage Foundation, led a discussion on how conservatives can get their ideas across, according to The Washington Times.
"What we have to do as conservatives is not just beat Republicans over the head and say, 'You’ve got to carry our message and vote for our bills.' We have to pave the road for them," DeMint said. "We have to convince Americans that these ideas are best for them."
Connecting with the next generation is key to that victory, suggested Charlie Kirk, executive director of Turning Point USA, a student movement organization geared at educating young people about fiscal responsibility, free markets and limited government.
"I have a really simple test for the next candidate that we’re going to nominate for president of the United States: If you can’t tell me which team LeBron James plays for, if you can’t tell me if Derek Jeter is still playing baseball, and if you can’t tell me how many 'Hunger Games' movies there are, then I really don’t think you should be our nominee," Kirk said.
Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio told the Post that the Western Conservative Summit shows that the Republican Party – once "taken seriously for their policy ideas – is no longer a big-tent party that is interested in real solutions for all Americans."
"They've become a circus sideshow featuring carnival barkers like Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz," Palacio said.
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