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On CPAC’s Last Day, Conservatives Weigh Future Possibilities

Members of the college group Young Americans for Freedom roll up posters to hand out of Ronald Reagan at CPAC in National Harbor, Md. on Friday.

It's the last day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland, which will culminate in a keynote address by up-and-coming Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. There will also be a straw poll of possible 2016 presidential contenders.

As NPR's Don Gonyea reports for Weekend Edition, CPAC is a chance for conservatives to "ponder the future and try to regroup" after losses in November's election. Since starting Thursday, the event has offered a range of possible approaches to the future.

"Friday offered a pretty good cross section of the mix of moods, personalities and voices that live side by side in conservative America today," Gonyea says.

Among the big names who spoke Friday were former presidential candidate Mitt Romney and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Romney faced an "enthusiastic" crowd, Gonyea reports. NPR's Frank James also notes the former governor's "winner's reception," despite his loss in November.

"Romney, whose voice seemed to quaver at times with emotion, sought to be a uniter, at least within his party, keenly aware that his failure to win the White House made him yesterday's man," James says.

Jeb Bush finished out the day with a less jubilant reception, Gonyea reports.

"His speech had a uniformly positive tone, saying if Republicans are to succeed, they need to be a party of 'inclusion and acceptance,' " he says. Bush said that the party was too frequently "associated with being 'anti' everything."

Saturday's schedule includes: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Newt Gingrich, Rep. Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin. CPAC has the full schedule on its website.

Before Cruz gives his keynote speech, the conference will hold a 2016 presidential straw poll. As CNN reports: "The straw poll is often considered a way to gauge where the conservative base stands on potential Republican nominees."

CNN notes that a few high-profile hopefuls are on the list but were not invited to speak, like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Among those on the ballot and are part of the program are Senators Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, who spoke Thursday, and Cruz. CNN has the list of 23 candidates.

Romney won last year's poll. But generally, NPR's S.V. Dáte points out, it doesn't have much of a track record for accurate predictions.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit www.npr.org.

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