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By David Keene
Conference showed that the values Reagan cherished still endure
Topic - Steve Scheffler
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell stormed the national stage in 2009 as symbols of the GOP's anti-Obama momentum, but with both now under federal investigation, Republicans' unity is shattered and strategists and fellow officeholders struggle to contain the damage.
Even as House Republicans in Washington were voting to postpone a showdown with President Obama on raising the federal debt limit, members of the Republican National Committee meeting here Wednesday displayed a determination to point the party in a new policy direction and urged GOP lawmakers to take a much tougher line.
Mitt Romney displayed a newfound ability to connect with fellow Republicans at the Republican National Committee three-day gathering here, although his campaign team still managed to find a way to annoy a few prominent party insiders.
This could change the narrative a bit: A recount of the Iowa caucus vote could give the former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum the victory over front-runner Mitt Romney, who eked out an eight-vote win in the initial count.
Doubts persist among Republican Party professionals about the quality of this year's presidential field and the ability of the leading candidates to defeat an unpopular Democratic president struggling with a stubbornly bad economy.
For all the focus on front-runners Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, many Iowa Republicans say Texas Rep. Ron Paul is the one to watch in the state's presidential nomination caucuses Jan. 3.
There's a hefty dose of circus mixed with deadly serious politics in the Iowa Republican straw poll.
Rick Perry could throw the results of Saturday's Iowa straw poll into a cocked hat if the Texas governor goes through with plans to say in a South Carolina speech that he intends to seek the Republican presidential nomination, Iowa Republicans said.
Republican presidential candidates take note: The clout of social and religious conservatives is growing in politically crucial Iowa. And these activists are driving the debate here toward cultural issues - and away from the economy - just as the GOP gears up to pick an opponent for President Obama in 2012.
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, trying to break out of the crowded pack of would-be contenders for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, took a step forward Monday with the announcement of a presidential exploratory committee.
Sarah Palin will be the big draw at Friday's Reagan Dinner in Des Moines, the Iowa Republican Party's biggest fundraiser. The question that will be on everyone's mind is whether she'll run for president in 2012.
"I wouldn't declare Christie's candidacy dead," Mr. Scheffler said, adding that the biggest obstacle standing in front of Mr. Christie's presidential aspirations in Iowa is winning over the conservative voters who are at odds with the Republican's support of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants and his reluctance to trumpet social issues in a more aggressive manner. "I do think he would have trouble making much traction in Iowa."
"I think they probably look at him more positive than not," said Steve Scheffler, a Republican National Committee member from Iowa. "He is acceptable more than some Republicans, but he has done some things recently that would cause some conservatives to have some pause."