Charleston, South Carolina (CNN) - The four remaining Republican presidential candidates faced off Thursday for the second time in three days and two days ahead of South Carolina's pivotal primary.
Just weeks ago, South Carolina looked like it might seal the deal for then-front-runner Mitt Romney, but the polls have tightened in the weeks leading up to Saturday's vote.FULL STORY
(CNN) – Republicans seeking their party's presidential nomination will have four separate ways to qualify for the Southern Republican Presidential Debate, CNN announced Tuesday.
The debate will take place in Charleston on January 19, two days before the crucial South Carolina primary. The event is being co-hosted by the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, the umbrella organization of the Republican National Committee's Southern Region. The region consists of 14 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
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(CNN) - CNN and the Southern Republican Leadership Conference (SRLC) will host a Republican presidential town hall debate in Charleston, South Carolina just weeks before voters weigh in at the polls in that state's pivotal primary.
"On behalf of the Southern Republican Conference Board of Directors, we are very excited to be working with CNN on this important presidential town hall debate," said Ed McMullen, chairman of the SRLC board of directors. "We look forward to hosting our 2012 presidential candidates, and showcasing their conservative ideas."
New Orleans (CNN) - Though it's a hot topic among GOP insiders at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, none of the event's speakers had uttered a word about the Republican National Committee's disastrous decision to spend money at a sex-themed Hollywood nightclub.
Until Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal finally broke the ice on Friday – albeit in a coy way.
Jindal took to the stage and welcomed conference-goers to New Orleans. He told them to "enjoy our great food, our great music, our great culture."
Then this: "A word of warning to RNC staffers: You may want to stay away from Bourbon Street," he said. "Just a word of advice."
The joke drew laughter and applause from the crowd.
Voting in the straw poll began Friday and will continue Saturday. Results will be announced Saturday evening.
The candidates are: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
At least four potential 2012 candidates are not featured on the ballot - Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and South Dakota Sen. John Thune - and no space is provided to write in a candidate.
Jindal removed himself from the 2012 chatter on Friday, telling the SRLC crowd: "I am not running for president of the United States."
Perry, in the midst of a re-election campaign in Texas, asked for his name to be kept off the ballot, an aide to the governor told CNN.
Sarah Palin delivered a speech Friday at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images)
New Orleans (CNN) - Her speeches are typically loaded with partisan zingers and Obama-bashing, but for the first time since the 2008 presidential campaign, Sarah Palin delivered a speech that focused as much on policy ideas as it did on political combat.
To be sure, her much-anticipated remarks Friday to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference were laced with a heavy dose of Republican cheerleading that drew cheers from the audience of party activists who had earlier stampeded into the speech venue to snag prime seating for her appearance.
"There is no shame in being the 'Party if No' if the other side is proposing an idea that violates our values, violates our conscience, violates the Constitution," she said, deviating from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who urged the SRLC crowd on Thursday to pivot to being the "Party of Yes."
But without shying away from heated partisan rhetoric, Palin spent the latter half of her talk expounding on differences between Democratic and Republican energy policies, a comfortable topic for the former Alaska governor and onetime chair of the state's Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
New Orleans, Louisiana (CNN) - When Sarah Palin speaks in public, she always finds the media spotlight. Or maybe the spotlight finds her.
Either way, he former Alaska governor will again be firmly in front of the cameras Friday afternoon, when she addresses the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The three-day event is billed as the largest GOP gathering of party officials, operatives, activists and strategists before the 2012 Republican National Convention, when the party will formally nominate its candidate for president.
New Orleans (CNN) - Nearly 4,000 GOP insiders are descending on New Orleans Thursday for the start of the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, thought by many to be the unofficial kick-off to the 2012 presidential cycle.
Along with speeches from party leaders, the SRLC agenda includes strategy sessions, local food tastings and even a GOP-themed film festival - not to mention several days behind-the-scenes networking and a sampling of the city's abundant food and drink. The conference is taking place just steps from Bourbon Street.
The Republican National Committee and Republican Governors Association, eager to fill their coffers in a midterm election year, are also holding fundraisers to piggyback off the gathering, which takes places every four years.
But the main draw, especially for the 130 credentialed media organizations in attendance, will be the parade of potential presidential contenders.
Louisiana Republican Party chairman Roger Villere, one of the event's organizers, described the conference as "the jump start for the 2012 presidential cycle."
Among the possible White House candidates: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.