Republicans Gather in New Orleans

Many of the Republican Party’s top leaders are attending a conference in New Orleans starting today including several of the party’s expected 2012 presidential candidates.

The Southern Republican Leadership Conference (SRLC) is a quadrennial event held two years before each presidential election. The stakes are high for Republicans as they seek to make gains in the November congressional elections as well as begin to assess the 2012 presidential contenders.

More than 3,500 Republican Party donors and activists are expected to convene in the French Quarter hoping to rally conservatives who worry that the Democratic congressional majority and President Barack Obama are ruining America.

Some of the speakers include former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, Rep. Ron Paul (R.-Tex.), Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, Fox News host Sean Hannity, former Oklahoma Rep. J.C. Watts, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Republican activists Mary Matalin and Liz Cheney are also attending.

Republicans and the media will be looking for any signs from Palin about a possible 2012 run for president. Also this will be the first time the GOP will be able to assess Steele who has been under a great deal of scrutiny lately after revelations that on his watch the GOP had spent a great deal of taxpayers dollars in a promiscuous night club.

Former Governors Mitt Romney (Mass.) and Mike Huckabee (Ark.) will not be in attendance giving other possible candidates for 2012 like Rep. Mike Pence (R.-Ind) a chance to get noticed.

Just like the popular Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that takes place yearly in Washington D.C., SRLC will have workshops and social networking events, as well as a straw poll for the 2012 presidential race.

David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union which sponsors CPAC, told the Washington Times, “The Southern Republican Leadership Conference has since the eighties emerged as incredibly important both to the GOP itself and to conservatives within the party. It’s success symbolized the growth of the GOP in the once solidly Democratic South and the emergence of conservatives as the dominant wing of a Republican Party finally able to fight for majority status in a nation dominated for much of the twentieth century by the Democratic Party.

“Today many Republican conservative activists attend one or the other of these two conferences and more and more Republican leaders attend both.”