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Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney may already have plans in 2012, but a straw poll of conservative politicos indicates that they hope it includes a stay in the White House.

At the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., this week, Romney held the support of 30 percent of those who participated in the vote, according to a report posted on The New York Times' Web site.

According to the Times, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana was a distant second at 14 percent, and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska earned 13 percent each.

Organizers told the Times that this is the third time Romney has won the poll.

The non-scientific poll was based on the responses of 1,757 attendees. While 55 percent of conferencegoers said they were generally satisfied with the field of candidates whose names have been floated as possible contenders, 44 percent said they wished the Republican Party had better choices.

On Friday Romney delivered a speech at the conference that lambasted liberal spending that has set the United States on a new course.

"America voted for change. America did not vote for a boat-load of new government spending programs that would guarantee higher taxes and high deficits as far as the eye can see and that would threaten our currency, our economy and our future," Romney said, according to prepared remarks given to the Deseret News. "We must be the alternative course. We can't be that if all we say is no. Our plans must be clear, compelling, and first to the table."

It was at the same conference last year that Romney left the 2008 presidential race to clear the path for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to clinch the Republican nomination. Romney was at one point a lead contender in the race, winning numerous states in the Republican primaries, including Nevada, Michigan and Utah, where he received 90 percent of the votes.

In his speech, Romney endorsed the issues that President Barack Obama had pinned as being among his top priorities, including education, health care and energy independence. Yet Romney was unimpressed by the principles and tactics guiding the development of the issues. In response, Romney drew on solutions he'd developed as governor of Massachusetts to address these areas.

The survey reported in the Times also showed that 4 percent of conservatives at the conference approve of the job Obama is doing, while 95 percent disapprove.

"I don't deny that America's challenges are great, or that overcoming them will require the best that we have to give. But I know as well that times of difficulty always bring out the essential character of our fellow citizens," Romney said. "When I was a boy, my dad used to say that the pursuit of the difficult makes you strong. Well, the pursuit of the difficult will make America strong. We welcome the challenge. It will call on us, once again, to draw on the incredible resilience, ingenuity and faith of the free men and women of America."

Playing to the politically far right present at the conference, Romney tailored his speech in ways that would resonate with the crowd. He was critical of Obama's commitment to scale down missile defense systems and championed the free market's ability to correct the economic struggle if it was allowed to be powered by the ingenuity and cleverness of entrepreneurs.

A televised speech by talk show personality Rush Limbaugh also drew attention. In his remarks, Limbaugh said he wants Obama to fail. Limbaugh lashed out at top Democrats, as well. The Times reported that Limbaugh "suggested that Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was a bigot" and referred to Sen. John Kerry as "that haughty senator from Massachusetts."

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