Mitt Romney didn’t disappoint on his home turf this weekend, receiving 51 percent of the votes at the Michigan Straw Poll, a wide victory over Texas Gov. Rick Perry who garnered just 17 percent.
Third place in the straw poll went to Herman Cain, fresh off his impressive win at the Florida Straw Poll earlier this weekend. Cain received 9 percent of the 681 votes cast by party activists and elected officials in the Michigan poll. Romney’s win comes despite his campaign’s decision to forgo participation in any state Straw Polls, saying they would instead focus their financial strength on winning primaries and caucuses.
Romney and Perry were the only presidential candidates to make the trek to Northern Michigan for the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference Saturday, and both used their time behind the podium to distinguish themselves from President Barack Obama.
But Perry apparently couldn’t resist making a veiled jab at Romney during his speech.
“There may be slicker candidates and there may be smoother debaters, but I know what I believe in, and I’m going to stand on that belief every day,” he said. “I will guide this country with a deep deep rudder.”
Romney, who was born and raised in the state where his father George Romney served as governor, quickly emerged as the clear favorite at the conference. He stayed focused on his anti-Obama message and stayed away from criticizing Perry, instead playing up his familial ties to the state, even reminiscing about meeting his wife of 42 years, Ann, at a school dance in Michigan.
“It’s great being back in Michigan,” Romney told the crowd. “This is where I was born and raised, been here a number of times with my mom and dad.”
Voters in Michigan also weighed in on their preference for vice president, choosing Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as the overwhelming favorite. Rubio received 23 percent of the 481 votes cast for vice president and was followed by Cain with 14 percent, Newt Gingrich with 13 percent and Michele Bachmann at 12 percent.