Herman Cain wins straw poll at first TeaCon in Midwest
BY MAUREEN O’DONNELL Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org October 1, 2011 5:24PM
At Teacon 2011, a large crowd came to listen to speakers, Rep. Joe Walsh (and later Presidential Candidate, Herman Cain) at the Renaissance Hotel in Schaumberg. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times
Updated: November 15, 2011 9:45AM
Two darlings of the Tea Party got in plenty of barbs at President Barack Obama, sitting Republicans and what they described as government over-regulation as they basked in adulation at TeaCon 2011, the first Midwestern Tea Party Convention, which drew about 1,000 people to Schaumburg this weekend.
Herman Cain, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and the only GOP presidential candidate to attend in person, won a TeaCon 2011 straw poll by a landslide Saturday evening.
His blunt comments — including, “Stupid people are ruining America” — were frequently interrupted with standing ovations at the Schaumburg Convention Center. U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) also received a hero’s welcome.
Cain said he would spend money to build up a strong U.S. defense; support Israel; push domestic oil drilling with an “attitude adjustment” for the EPA, and promote his 9-9-9 tax reform plan.
Saying “I kinda like clinging to my guns and Bibles, and I’m not going to let them go,” Cain declared, “this nation is weaker as a result of this administration.”
Cain said his recent win of the Florida straw poll against Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney meant his “message is more important than money. My two competitors that came in second and third, they spent a lot of money.… We rented a bus.”
Walsh zinged the GOP establishment as well as Obama — whose policies he said are suffocating small business — as he rallied the troops for what he called “revolution, not an election.”
“The election in 2012 is the most important election in the lives of your grandkids not even born,” he said.
“Your country right now is teetering. ... I don’t know this president. I’ve met him once — he’s tall,” Walsh said to laughter. But he added, “His policies are destroying what makes this country great.
Walsh said he finds it arduous to be a firebrand, but that he is willing to do it for the Tea Party faithful. “I turn to my wife every night and I literally say to her every night, this job is almost killing me, but thank God I can be a part of it.”
Though he was frequently met with cheers, there was silence when he made an apparent reference to allegations that he is a deadbeat dad and refuses to pay his ex-wife more than $100,000 in child support, saying: “I have had to open up my personal life for the entire world to see. It’s not easy.”
He also took on GOP warhorses. “John McCain, about a month and a half ago, had the nerve to call me a hobbit.” Walsh said. He told the crowd he responded with “Sen. McCain, if I’m a hobbit, you’re a troll.”
He said he personally liked Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Speaker John Boehner, but “the problem is they’ve been there too long, and they’re afraid to fight.”
The conference, which began Friday, wound up Saturday night with a speech by conservative radio and TV personality Glenn Beck.