Herman Cain wins TeaCon straw poll

October 1, 2011 (SCHAUMBURG, Ill.)

Organizers said they were excited to convene in the current Democratic president's backyard.

"We want to make sure that President Obama and the Illinois Democrats that are not only running the state of Illinois but are now running the country know that we're here and that we're not going away," Chicago tea party spokesperson Eric Kohn said.

TeaCon attendees dicussed policy issues going into next year's presidential campaign. the top of the agenda: what they see as too much taxing and spending by the current administration.

"Our goal here today is to educate the tea party folks that have come today, give them a sense of activism, empower them, give them information that they can take back and use on the street," said convention organizer Paul Reisman.

Participants came from all around the Midwest. Many were predominately conservative voters who say the tea party offers American politics a dose of fiscal reality.

"We are $14 trillion in debt. How are we ever gonna pay this back?" said Elmwood Park's Dave Shepherd.

When Herman Cain addressed the convention, he fired up the crowd.

"The right to protect yourself, to protect your family, and protect your family, it's called the second amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America! Don't mess with the second amendment!" Cain said

Cain went on to win the TeaCon presidential straw poll, garnering more than 75 percent of convention-goers votes. He was followed by Congresswoman Michelle Bachman and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Bachmann appeared in a videotapped message -- a sign that the tea party voting block intends to have its voice heard in 2012.

"I founded the Tea Party caucus in Congress because I believe you have a legitimate voice," Bachmann said.

"They've shown that they can stop legislation in Congress over the budget crisis in August. That's real power. They've moved more moderate Republicans to the right. That's real power," said ABC7 political consultant Laura Washington.

U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh said he likes the entire field of Republican candidates, saying, "I'd pick anybody in that field to be my president before Barack Obama."

This tea party convention comes as a new poll this week shows a decline in tea party support among Americans. Just 28 percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of the movement, while 53 percent viewed the tea party unfavorably.

But one convention-goer said the attendance shows the strength of the movement.

"I think the message is the Tea Party is stronger than people think," Michael Pickering said.

This weekend's convention drew protestors as well.

"They'd rather see Obama fail than for our country to make strides ahead in job creation," said protestor Tony Domino.

"I think this is the wrong kind of activism," said protestor Michael Clayton. "I think they're focusing on the wrong things right now. I think they're focusing on the debt ceiling and making government smaller."

The day's events ended with a $160-a-plate dinner, which featured Glenn Beck as the main speaker, and was considered a fundraiser for tea party candidates in the coming year.

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