By Mark Memmott
The headlines from the last day of the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, which wrapped up last night, are:
-- "GOP National Chairman Steele Admits 'Mistakes' ": "In damage control mode, GOP national chairman Michael Steele on Saturday sought to quell the furor over his management of the Republican National Committee by acknowledging errors and vowing to learn from them. 'I'm the first here to admit that I've made mistakes and it's been incumbent on me to take responsibility to shoulder that burden, make the necessary changes and move on,' Steele told GOP activists and party leaders, drawing a standing ovation. 'The one mistake we cannot make this November is to lose,' he added, and the crowd cheered in agreement." (Associated Press)
-- "Romney Wins GOP Poll By 1 Vote": "Mitt Romney skipped the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, but he won a straw poll of likely 2012 presidential candidates there Saturday. The former Massachusetts governor came in first with 439 votes, one more than Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, followed by Sarah Palin with 330 and Newt Gingrich with 321. Also on the ballot: Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty, Mike Pence, Rick Santorum and Gary Johnson. Over the three-day conference, 1,806 ballots were cast." (Chicago Sun-Times)
From New Orleans, NPR's Don Gonyea says of the straw poll that:
"No one has yet declared their candidacy for the white house in 2012. Still, there were nine names on the ballot. And Romney won with 24%, beating second place finisher, Texas Congressman Ron Paul by a single vote. Next came Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and former speaker of the house Newt Gingrich, each with 18%.
"No one else scored more than 4%. Romney won despite not coming to the New Orleans conference to give a speech. But he did have supporters working the crowd. Paul had a large number of college students who showed up to support him. It's a nice bit of news for Romney. But little else. Four years ago this same straw poll was won by then Republican Senate leader Bill Frist. His who's presidential campaign never materialized."
The AP adds this video report:
If you're a political junkie, you might want to check out NPR's Political Junkie blog.