New Jersey Governor Chris Christie edged out former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin by half a percentage point for first place in the Richmond, Virginia, Tea Party presidential straw poll Saturday. Christie won 14 percent of the 1,560 votes cast, with Governor Palin just behind him in second place with 13.5 percent. Texas Congressman Ron Paul finished third with 12.5 percent, followed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who had 8.4 percent and U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) with 7.3 percent. Other candidates included Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Indiana Congressman Mike Pence.
Former CNN commentator Lou Dobbs keynoted the event, which organizers say attracted 2,800 registered attendees:
Repealing Obamacare was a major focus of the convention, and former Virginia Governor and U.S. Senator George Allen made an indirect stab at former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for the Bay State’s healthcare program. Romney didn’t even place in the top five contenders in the straw poll, and “RomneyCare,” as Massachusetts’ healthcare program has been coined, may have had something to do with that.Speaking of running for president, Christie has rather emphatically denied that he wants to do so, telling reporters in Iowa recently:
Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain kicked off Saturday’s events with a headlining speech – and he hinted the most of any potential 2012 GOP candidate at a run for the presidency.
After recounting his story of having survived cancer, Cain said sometimes God keeps people around for a reason they don’t know at the time.
“I might do something crazy,” Cain told the crowd of Tea Partiers in Richmond. “I might just run for president.”
"I'm governor of New Jersey, I'm not going to run for national office. You have to want it more than anything else in the world, and I don't. ... You have to be ready for it, and I'm not."Gov. Palin, on the other hand, has by her own recent comments, increased speculation that she will run in 2012.