Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. , speaks at the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md. , Thursday, March 14, 2013. (AP)
Sen. Rand Paul narrowly beat out Sen. Marco Rubio to win the Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll, offering an early glimpse of the potential 2016 Republican primary battle three years away.
Paul (R-Ky.) won with 25 percent of the vote, closely followed by Rubio (R-Fla.) with 23 percent. Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) came in third place with 8 percent.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — not invited to speak at CPAC — was fourth with 7 percent of the vote, followed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee, with 6 percent. Nearly 3,000 CPAC registrants voted.