Herman Cain comfortably won the Western Conservative Summit presidential straw poll Sunday, with Rick Perry coming a distant second, and projected his victory as nothing less than “spectacular.”
“How about spectacular,” Cain, the Georgia businessman, told ABC News when asked how he felt after his win.
Cain, who also said he was “honored” in a tweet message, drew 246 ballots, or 48 percent, out of 508 cast. His nearest runner-up, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, took 67 votes, or 13 percent. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum received 50 ballots, or less than 10 percent, followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with 49 votes, or 10 percent, and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann with 44 ballots, or nine percent.
Tim Pawlenty got just seven votes, Sarah Palin five, Newt Gingrich three, Thaddeus McCotter two, and Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson, and Paul Ryan one each. Rudy Giuliani received none.
“I would say that winning the straw poll is not bad for somebody who has a 48 percent name ID and with a lot of people who didn’t really give me a chance,” Cain was quoted as saying. “I am doing as well as I’m doing, for one simple reason – my message is resonating with the people; secondly, my approach to problem solving. So I guess there’s two reasons … so that does make us feel really really excited.”
Cain, Santorum, and Perry all spoke at the Western Conservative Summit in Colorado, which was attended by about 1,000 people including Republican volunteers, Tea Party activists, conservatives and libertarians, along with members of the faith community, according to John Andrews, executive director of the Centennial Institute and the event’s organizer.
In his Sunday speech, Cain “energized” the crowd with his message about American independent energy, immigration, and fighting the establishment. “Many people turned in their straw poll ballot before Cain’s speech and tried to switch their votes after hearing him speak, though the conference did not allow it,” ABC News reported.
Perry, who has yet to announce his run for president, opposed gay marriage in a speech to conservatives in the three-day Denver conference Friday, according to The Associated Press. But he stood by his recent statement in Aspen that New York’s decision to allow gay marriage was “their business.”
Cain, who recently came under fire following his anti-Muslim remarks, was thankful for his straw poll win. “The people are going to select the nominee and the people are going to select the next president of the United States,” Politico quoted him as saying. “I love you one and all. We’re not done yet.”
Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, said he was sorry for his statement that Americans had the right to ban mosques. “While I stand by my opposition to the interference of shariah law into the American legal system, I remain humble and contrite for any statements I have made that might have caused offense to Muslim Americans and their friends,” Cain said in a statement last Wednesday.
What is the significance of Cain’s straw poll victory?
“It’s always hard to know exactly what to make of straw poll results,” Alexander Burns of Politico said. “The standings tend to favor candidates who actually show up, and Cain had the advantage of prime placement in the program. But at the very least, his performance suggests that there’s more enthusiasm for his campaign in certain sectors of the grassroots than there seems to be in national polls.”