Published June 18, 2011
Rep. Ron Paul of Texas has won the presidential straw poll at the Republican Leadership Conference.
The perennial libertarian candidate won 612 votes from the gathering that brings presidential candidates, party elders, grassroots activists and donors. Coming in second place was former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who served three Republican administrations and then worked as President Obama's ambassador to China.
Huntsman got 382 votes, but did not address the conference. Aides said he was ill.
His wife, Mary Kaye Huntsman, came to meet privately with activists.
Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, a tea party darling, collected 191 votes. Former pizza executive Herman Cain won 104 votes and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney skipped the event and picked up 74 votes. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich got 69 votes.
Earlier, an actor impersonating Obama mocked the Republican presidential hopefuls and made jokes about the real president's biracial roots.
Impersonator Reggie Brown drew raucous applause from the GOP's supporters when he projected lewd photos of disgraced and resigned Rep. Anthony Weiner on Saturday. Brown returned to Weiner when describing former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's campaign: "His supporters are dropping faster than Anthony Weiner's pants."
The room grew more uncomfortable as Brown turned to the candidates who are looking to make Obama a one-term president.
Brown took a shot at former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who missed the conference because "he's having his foot surgically removed from his mouth."
"Don't worry: it's covered under Obamneycare. Along with spinal transplants," Brown said.
Pawlenty has struggled this week after previewing his criticism of Romney's health care overhaul in Massachusetts that was a model for Democrats' national plan. Pawlenty first called it "Obamneycare," a hybrid of Romneycare and Obamacare. But when given the shot to use the term while sharing the stage with Romney on a debate, he balked.
Pawlenty later said it was a mistake not to offer a stronger criticism.
The impersonator also made a joke about Romney's Mormon faith and polygamy, and Bachmann's tea party support.
Organizers then cut off Brown's microphone and turned on music.
Brown opened his routine with jokes about Obama's biography as the son a mother from Kansas and a father from Kenya.
"My mother loved a black man and, no, she was not a Kardashian," the actor said, referencing the reality television family. Khloe Kardashian is married to Los Angeles Laker Lamar Odom. Other family members have had black romantic interests on the E! television series.
Brown also joked about rumors of the president's birthplace. Obama was born in Hawaii -- "or as the tea partyers call it, Kenya," he said.