Rep. Ron Paul, the libertarian-leaning Texan, won the straw poll at the Republican Leadership Conference on Saturday.

Jon Huntsman, a former Utah governor, came in a distant second, and Rep. Michele BachmannMichele Marie Bachmann MSNBC host: Boehner going after GOP 'crazies' now is 'too little too late' Boehner on Bachmann: Right-wing media made 'people who used to be fringe characters into powerful media stars' Evangelicals shouldn't be defending Trump in tiff over editorial MORE of Minnesota came in third.


Paul received 612 votes to Huntsman's 382 and Bachmann's 191.

As he has in his prior two White House runs, Paul has fervent supporters, but in recent public polling he trails the frontrunner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, by a wide margin.

Huntsman, after leaving his post at President Obama's ambassador to China, will formally enter the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination next week. Huntsman was scheduled to speak at the event but missed the gathering because of a cold.

Herman Cain, a businessman from Georgia who has created some buzz for his presidential bid, scored a fourth place finish with 104 votes.

Romney and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty did not attend the conference in New Orleans, but there names were included in the straw poll.

Romney got 74 votes, and Pawlenty received 18.