DENVER—In a landslide victory, voters in a straw-poll at day three of the Western Conservative Summit chose Marco Rubio as their preferred vice-presidential candidate for the 2012 Republican ticket.
Collecting 44 percent of the vote, the Florida senator easily surpassed second-place finishers Reps. Paul Ryan and Allen West, who each garnered 9 percent of the vote.
Other notable finishers were former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice with 5 percent of the vote and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal with 4 percent of the vote.
Likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is expected to announce his running mate before the Republican National Convention in August.
“Of course Mitt Romney will make his decision taking into account lots of complicated factors, but this is a striking sample of several hundred conservatives from a couple dozen states,” John Andrews, director of the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University, which sponsored the summit, said. “Even though he had no visible presence here, it was hands down for Rubio.”
Just minutes before the straw-poll results were announced, political analyst and former Clinton advisor Dick Morris gave the Florida senator a ringing endorsement.
“He’s a solid conservative, we can count on him.” Morris said. “And when we have a charismatic, young, articulate, brilliant conservative we can put on the ticket, we can groom to run to maybe for president someday, grab that opportunity.”
Morris, who has given the closing speech at the summit each of the last three years, argued that the Supreme Court ruling to uphold Obamacare will actually help Republicans in the upcoming presidential election.
“Barack Obama won that court decision. He will rue this day because we were going to beat him before that court decision, and now we’re going to slaughter him,” Morris said. “Now the Supreme Court has restored the individual mandate, but it has given each of us an individual mandate to beat Obama, take back the senate and repeal this bill.”
Morris referenced several polls that show voters oppose Obamacare by 10-15 points, and commended the Supreme Court for making nationalized health-care the “central issue of this election.”
“All [Chief Justice] Roberts said in his opinion is, ‘I’m not going to do the heavy lifting for you. This is a democracy. Do it yourself,’” Morris said. “We will have a clear choice in November, and we are going to make it the conservative way.”