Ron Paul continues to breed lingering divisions on the right. The former Republican presidential candidate delivered a blistering criticism of neoconservative foreign policy views at the Conservative Political Action Conference earlier this year while taking home a victory in the presidential straw poll with 31 percent of the vote. Rush Limbaugh responded by claiming CPAC is “not an organization of conservatives,” and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee similarly said CPAC is becoming “increasingly libertarian and less Republican.”
Today at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, a similar dynamic played out. House Republican Conference Chairman Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) was booed by Ron Paul followers during his speech. Washington Post blogger Dave Weigel, who is reporting from the conference, described the scene: “Pence says ‘America stands with Israel’; Ron Paul contingent boos, shouted down by chants of ‘USA!’”
Later, when it was his turn to speak at the convention, the libertarian Paul delivered a scathing criticism of Republican foreign policy views:
Conservatives spend money on different things. They like embassies, and they like occupation. They like the empire. They like to be in 135 countries and 700 bases. (boos) [...]
Don’t you think it’s rather conservative to say, ‘oh it’s good to follow the Constitution, oh, except for war. Let the President go to war anytime they want.’ [...] We can do better with peace than with war! (mixture of boos and applause)
Throughout his speech, Paul’s comments were met with an awkward tension from the crowd, many of whom appeared uncomfortable with him. Watch it:
Mitt Romney won the SRLC presidential straw poll, beating Ron Paul by just a single vote.