Key Point: “I had nothing to do with the bus,” he revealed. After repeated attempts to get him to clarify where the tickets came from, Wagner hung up the phone.
Politico // Jonathan Martin
June 20, 2011 03:54 PM EDT
Perhaps the biggest surprise at last weekend’s Republican Leadership Conference was the second-place straw poll finish of Jon Huntsman.
He bailed out on his scheduled appearance, is little known among the conservative activists who dominated the event and his closest competitors for the non-Ron Paul vote were grassroots favorites Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain.
So how did he snag so many votes?
Partly due to the effort of a New Orleans Republican named Bryan Wagner.
An influential former city councilor and big McCain backer, Wagner is close to former Rep. Joseph Cao.
In an interview, Wagner said he, Cao and New Orleans school board member Brett Bonin talked up Huntsman to their friends in the days leading up the gathering.
“We were very, very pleased with the outcome we got,” boasted Wagner.
But when pressed about who paid for the registration of the pro-Huntsman voters, Wagner grew defensive.
He flatly denied purchasing any tickets, but wouldn’t say who did put up the money for the Huntsman voters.
“I can’t speak for everybody on the campaign,” he said.
Wagner, did though, confirm that there were two separate groups of Huntsman backers brought into the conference: his friends and associates from the New Orleans area and another group from out of town.
“I had nothing to do with the bus,” he revealed.
After repeated attempts to get him to clarify where the tickets came from, Wagner hung up the phone.
Huntsman’s campaign denied that they had provided Wagner with tickets and won’t say how they got their supporters to the event.