ACU chief answers Santorum's hints at CPAC poll-rigging

The national chairman and principal organizer of the Conservative Political Action Conference responded in no uncertain terms to Rick Santorum’s suggestion on a Sunday morning talk show that his second-place finish in a CPAC straw poll might have been rigged. Mitt Romney won the poll with 38 percent, Santorum finished with 31 percent of the vote.

Santorum made a surprising observation on CNN’s “State of the Union” program that: “You’ll have to talk to the Romney campaign and [see] how many tickets they bought. We’ve heard all sorts of things.” Each CPAC participant was given a code to enable them to vote online one time.

He went on to say, “You know those straw polls, at CPAC.  For two years Ron Paul has won those because he just trucks in a lot of people, pays for their ticket, and they come in and vote and they leave. We didn’t do that. We don’t do that. I don’t try to rig straw polls.” Ron Paul did win the poll at the last two CPACs.

In an exclusive interview with HUMAN EVENTS, American Conservative Union National Chairman Al Cardenas shot back, saying: “I was quite surprised yesterday when a potential commander in chief of our country decided to critically opine on the inner workings of the outcome, especially because he had done so well, the results were identical to the national poll and it’s just not something that candidates themselves have ever chosen to opine on.”

Recalling that CPAC has been conducting such straw polls for more than two decades, Cardenas went on to explain that “they have become an enjoyable, competitive part of our conference which everyone looks forward to, especially the many young men and women in attendance. Every year, passionate supporters for all losing sides always speculate on “nefarious” complicit efforts by the winning side to impact the outcome. That is part of the fun.

“This year, we decided to conduct a scientific national poll of fellow conservatives to coincide with our straw poll. Lo and behold, the outcomes were identical! All four major candidates placed in the same order, with Messrs Romney and Santorum coming in first and second respectively in both! So, one would think the outcomes all made sense. I will leave it at that.”

Rounding out the poll was Newt Gingrich at 15 percent and Ron Paul, 12 percent. In the national CPCA poll it was Romney 27, Santorum 25, Gingrich 20, Paul 8.