Activists gathered in Chicago signal they want Mitt Romney to pick a conservative running mate -- preferably the Florida senator.
ROSEMONT, ILLINOIS -- Florida Senator Marco Rubio was the undisputed favorite vice presidential choice of conservative activists gathered for the Chicago Conservative Political Action Conference, receiving 30 percent of a straw poll vote that asked attendees who they would like to see as Mitt Romney's running mate this fall.
Rubio -- who did not speak at the conference -- was followed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie with 14 percent and Representative Paul Ryan, with 9 percent of the vote. Fourth and fifth place went to Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (who spoke to the crowd Friday afternoon) respectively.
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Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, who spoke to the crowd Friday afternoon, and Ohio Senator Rob Portman, a top-mentioned VP possibility who did not attend the conference, both received less than 2 percent of the vote.
The poll's results were much less conclusive on the question of what should drive the presumptive nominee's choice. Thirty-two percent of the voters wanted to see Romney run with someone who could reach out to the more conservative wing of the party, 27 percent would like to see a running mate who would complement his governing, and 20 percent said they would prioritize a candidate with broad national appeal, especially to minorities. Only 17 percent thought the top criteria should be qualification to lead the country, and just 4 percent said Romney should pick a running mate from a key state.
The straw poll, which featured 23 prominent Republicans as choices on the poll, was co-sponsored by The Washington Times. Five hundred and twenty people at the conference voted out of well over 1,000 in attendance at the height of the conference.