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Many in the audience considered Texas Gov. Rick Perry to be right on point as a conservative but his delivery was pockmarked with fumbled lines that he had to repeat in attempting — not always successfully — to make clear to his audience.

His performance reminded activists of the fumbles during his presidential run last year.

Considered unlikely candidates for 2016, Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich delivered addresses that were nonetheless eagerly anticipated by much of the CPAC audience — over half of whom were in the 18-25 age bracket.

Mr. Romney, despite his failed presidential campaign last year, drew the largest crowd — nearly 3,000 — and the loudest sustained applause at Friday’s CPAC sessions.

“For the young people, Romney was their first presidential campaign and they think he is very conservative,” said former Hawaii Republican Party chairman Willes Lee, a CPAC regular. “Romney was smart to praise Rand Paul” in his speech, saying he stood with the Kentucky senator and his Senate filibuster on behalf of due process.

Mr. Gingrich, with the reputation of being one of the most cerebral of Republicans holding office in Washington, was the only speaker to share his allotted podium time with his wife. His own speech elicited the foot-stomping enthusiasm characteristic of his CPAC appearances over three decades.