Potential 2016 GOP presidential candidates test drive messages at CPAC

   < < Go Back
from FoxNews,

The lengthy roster of potential GOP presidential candidates were zipping through the must-attend conservative conference outside Washington this week to test drive their message and check the pulse of the base, as they navigate the tricky-to-read divisions in the party.

Just about every talked-about 2016 possibility is passing through the halls of the Conservative Political Action Conference. They’ll unofficially square off in Saturday’s annual straw poll, but more importantly, the event gives them a stage to fire up the movement or even re-brand themselves ahead of the presidential campaign season.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul pulled in the largest crowd Friday, with attendees lining up in the hallway to see him. Paul, who received multiple standing ovations, told the audience that it was important to elect a “lover of liberty.”

The speakers Thursday included more of the GOP’s most influential voices, among them Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Friday’s program, aside from Paul, included several Republicans who ran for president before and could be mulling another run. In that crowd, Texas Gov. Rick Perry kicked off the morning festivities with a bang, in an animated speech where he called for a “rebellion on the battlefield of ideas.”

He urged the crowd to not only oppose President Obama’s agenda but also to challenge the status quo within the GOP.

“That is why we must elect the right kind of leaders,” Perry said to a cheering crowd that gave him a one-minute standing ovation. “Leaders who believe in free markets.”

On Saturday, CPAC will hold a straw poll that includes 26 names for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination – highlighting just how deep the potential pool for the 2016 race has become in a party that’s been struggling to redefine itself in the past two election cycles.

Of the candidates included in the straw poll, eight are younger than 50 years old and many have embraced a more libertarian approach.

More From FoxNews: