The vice presidential chatter around Marco Rubio intensified Friday evening when the Florida senator won a straw poll intended to test conservative inclinations about the best choice to be presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s running mate.

Sen. Rubio earned 30 percent of the vote in the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) straw poll conducted in suburban Chicago at a one-day conference of the American Conservative Union, a national conservative advocacy group based in Washington. The summit attracted an estimated 2,000 people in Rosemont, a Chicago suburb.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was a distant second at 14 percent. US Rep. Paul Ryan (9 percent), US Sen. Rand Paul (8 percent), and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (7 percent) rounded out a list of 13 contenders, which included most of Mr. Romney’s former competition in this season’s Republican primary elections.

Rubio is a junior senator who supporters say makes an appealing presidential running mate because he has direct appeal to Latino voters. Plus, his 2010 senate campaign featured significant support from the tea party, a faction of the conservative movement that’s yet to embrace Romney whole heartedly.

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