Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has won the Conservative Political Action Conference’s presidential preference poll.
The overwhelming win is purely symbolic, but reflects the Republican senator’s popularity among conservatives who typically hold outsized influence in the GOP’s presidential selection process.
Paul captured 31 percent of the vote. He won the poll last year as well.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz finished second place with 11 percent, followed by neurosurgeon Ben Carson, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
None of the Republicans in the poll have formally entered the 2016 race yet.
The victory was announced Saturday evening as the annual conservative conference wrapped up. Thousands of activists flocked to suburban Washington for the three-day gathering.
Nearly 2,500 hundred activists voted. They were younger and more male than the typical electorate.
Dr. Ben Carson: “I Will Continue to Defy the PC Police”
He walked on stage to a sea of ‘Carson 2016’ signs. Then he got to business.
“America is a land of dreams,” Carson declared, before insisting this freedom is under attack by the bullies of political correctness.
“People are afraid to speak up for what they believe.”
The conservative doctor knows a thing or two about political correctness, as he himself has been lambasted for defending conservative principles such as traditional marriage and private health care. He refused to let these attacks stop his pursuit of the First Amendment.
“I will continue to defy the PC police. They try to shut me up. I find them pretty amusing. I still believe marriage is between a man and a woman.”
“Of course gay people deserve the same rights as everyone else, but they don’t get extra rights.”
The media published more unfair headlines when Carson declared Obamacare is “the worst thing since slavery.” In their analysis, the doctor had directly compared the two.
Carson likened these demonizing tactics to those found in community organizer Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. But, the doctor said conservatives need to “stop being intimidated” by these old, familiar strategies.
“It’s time for people to stand up and proclaim what they believe and stop being bullied.”
He offered a few specific solutions, including that of the nation’s health care system:
“Fight to make sure health care stays in their hands and not in the hands of the government.”
Carson didn’t say whether he’s joining the presidential race in 2016, but his passionate and bold speech certainly gave those wearing “Run Ben Run” reasons to smile.