For the life of me, I can’t figure out how a fierce Libertarian, Ron Paul, has won the straw poll for nominee at the Conservative Political Action Conference, better known as CPAC, for the second straight year.  It’s a joke, right?  Ron Paul, if nothing else, is a staunch Libertarian, and his beliefs are about as far out there as one can be.  That said, I also respect the man for standing with his principals.  But, honestly, I have a better chance of being elected President of the United States than he does.  So why does CPAC do this?  If you know, tell me, cause I’m baffled.

There were a lot of people speaking at CPAC this week.  But in my humble opinion, there was one person worth paying special attention to and that was Haley Barbour. 

The current governor of Mississippi has been a longtime favorite of true conservatives and many, including myself, believe that his time as Chairman of the Republican National Committee was the renaissance of conservatism.  Recent chairman of the committee have not boded nearly so well.

Barbour told the crowd at CPAC that the 2010 midterm elections were only a start and while a good start, that until a Republican president was elected, the party would not be able to put America on the right track.  Truer words could not be spoken. 

Even if the Republicans held the majority in both houses, the likelihood their margins would be sufficient to overturn a veto are zilch.  As long as Obama has the veto pen, there’s not much the Republicans are going to be able to do.  So they’ll do what they must and not give Obama a bill he can sign and that’s a step in the right direction.

So, back to Haley Barbour.  It is rumored that Governor Barbour is considering a run for President in 2012.  His appearance at CPAC does nothing to dissuade such rumors.  We should only be so lucky.  Haley Barbour has been long known as a straight speaking Conservative.  Sometimes too straight speaking.  However many appreciate his honesty, even if not the most politically correct.

There are three potential candidates in the upcoming presidential election that I truly hope will run: Haley Barbour, Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich.  Even though all three would be considered part of the old boys network, they are likely the three smartest potential candidates out there right now.  Gingrich and Barbour have some baggage.  However, all three have executive experience.  If Obama hasn’t proven the value of that in the past two years, I don’t know what would!  Gingrich had an affair with a staff member, who he later married.  Recently, Barbour explained that in the town that he grew up, racism was not prevalent.  His personal experiences seem to run against what we know about the south during the 1950’s.  However, who’s to judge what a child recognizes as racism or what he was exposed to?  Though some liberals would like to exercise mind control, it’s probably a little too late for them to change Mr. Barbour’s memories from childhood, so they’ll just label him a racist.  Huckabee’s problem in the last election was name recognition.  Two-thirds of the electorate thought he was a Hanna-Barbara cartoon character.  Two years later, with his own show on Fox and a Presidential nominating campaign behind him, and that affliction won’t follow him into 2012.

I imagine that the Republican Party will find some way to nominate someone with little or no chance of winning; as they did with John McCain.  As heroic as McCain’s story is/was, it could not compete with electing the first African American to the White House.  In 2012, the Republican candidate won’t have to deal with a "feel good" candidate on the other side of the slate.  Assuming Obama runs for re-election, he’ll be swimming upstream with nearly double the number Democrat Senate seats up for grabs, predominantly Republican Governorships (especially swing states such as Virginia and Ohio) and state houses.  However, it’s not a stretch to imagine them screwing it up by nominating a no-chance candidate. 

Barbour doesn’t have any problem getting his point across, and his southern plain-speaking style doesn’t hurt either.  In a recent quote to Fox News the Governor said, "For Washington, DC the definition of a spending cut is the department was supposed to get an 8% increase and they only got a 5% increase, so that’s a 3% cut.  In state government, when we cut we really reduce spending from last year… governors do that, it can be done."  I’ll bet he didn’t need a teleprompter to make that comment!

Newt Gingrich was the Sarah Palin of his time.  As Speaker of the House, the attacks against him were never ending.  Will that be a weakness for him in 2012?  I hope not.  If the economy remains in the doldrums, I can think of no one better suited to change that situation than Mr. Gingrich.  While one might point to Romney, as a man with a brilliant business mind, I don’t believe he’s electable.  The reason why, the man has $2,000 Brooks Brother’s suit written all over him.  That might have worked in 1960, in this decade it’s a major flaw.  As bright as Mr. Romney may be, and with strong management experience, he just screams Wall Street.  He looks like a guy Hollywood would hire as an actor playing the President in a time when most people can better associate with Joe The Plumber.

And there you have it…my 2 cents.  I could easily see myself voting for Barbour, Huckabee or Gingrich, but I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that, in the grand wisdom of the Republican party, I won’t get that choice.  It’s far more likely that we’ll see the “Rent Is Too Damn High,” guy than any of those three, and that’s really depressing.  I pray I’m wrong.