Pence picked as best presidential material at conservative summit

Conservative activists on Saturday picked Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) as their choice for president in 2012.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin -- who was the vice presidential candidate on the unsuccessful 2008 GOP ticket -- was voted the pick for vice president in 2012.

Palin, who has helped conservative candidates storm the national election scene, was awarded the VP spot because Pence also won the vice presidential straw poll.

Tony Perkins, the head of the conservative Family Research Council, announced the results of the straw poll at the annual Values Voter summit in Washington on Saturday.


Activists gathered at the summit in the nation’s capital said they see strong momentum for social conservatism in the November elections.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), a contender for the 2008 GOP nomination, was the runner-up in the straw poll very close behind Pence with a difference of 11 votes.

“Congressman Pence has been out challenging both parties on their fiscal policies and taken a strong stance on social issues,” Perkins said at a press conference following the announcement.

A total of 723 people participated in the straw poll. The names of the candidates are the “names of those who have been talked about in other settings as potential presidential possibilities,” Perkins said. “There was nothing scientific about the names that were selected.”

However, Perkins stressed that the straw poll result is “at least prescriptive in the type of candidate that I think values voters would be looking for” in 2012.

Mitt Romney, the former Massachussetts governor and another 2008 primary contender, won third place for president while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich made it in fourth place.

Palin was only in fifth place on the presidential pick. Following Palin in the vice presidential pick was former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) with just a difference of seven votes. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) made it in third place and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) in fourth. Huckabee placed fifth in the vice presidential pick.

Huckabee, Romney, DeMint, Santorum and Pence all spoke to the Values Voter Summit on Friday. House Republican Conference Chairman Pence told the gathered activists that conservatives "must demand that leaders of the Republican Party" stand strong on social issues.

The fact that Palin was not present at the summit and did not address the audience could have contributed to Palin’s standing in the poll, Perkins indicated.

Perkins said that several politicians have asked to be taken off the list of potential presidential picks for 2012, including Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R). Perkins said they wanted to concentrate on their current races. Pawlenty is currently on a trade mission in Asia but was to address the summit via video message Saturday night.

At the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) won the straw poll, followed by Romney and Palin.

At the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in April, Romney won over Paul by one vote. Palin and Gingrich came in third.

This story was updated at 5 p.m.