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Ron Paul, Herman Cain win Tea Party poll to run against Obama


US Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) speaks at the Conservative Political Action conference (CPAC) in Washington, February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
US Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) speaks at the Conservative Political Action conference (CPAC) in Washington, February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

PHOENIX (Reuters) - Rep. Ron Paul and Georgia businessman Herman Cain were conservative Tea Party activists' top picks to run against Barack Obama for president in 2012, leaving former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin in third place.

In a 'presidential straw poll' of nearly 1,600 conservative members of the Tea Party Patriots released on Sunday, 581 voted for U.S. Representative Ron Paul, a Texas Republican, to run against Obama next year

Herman Cain, a Georgia businessman and talk-radio host, came in second with 256 votes.

Palin, a favorite of the conservative movement who was Senator John McCain's running mate against Obama in 2008, trailed in a distant third place with 149 votes.

"Mr. Cain and Rep. Paul's positions resonated with Tea Party Patriots this weekend," said Mark Meckler, the Tea Party Patriots' national coordinator, of the poll taken at the group's policy summit in Phoenix over the weekend and online.

"The straw poll indicates the enthusiasm for these strong conservatives," Meckler said.

Both Paul and Cain spoke at the summit held at a convention center in downtown Phoenix that drew more than 2,000 activists from across the United States. Palin did not attend.

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who addressed the gathering as he mulls a run in 2012, came in fourth place with 143 votes.

(Reporting by Tim Gaynor; editing by Peter Bohan)

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