I’m heading back home after spending the weekend at TeaCon Midwest 2011 in Chicago, staged by WIND 560 AM at the Renaissance Hotel (actually in the Chicago suburb of Schaumberg).  Glenn Beck delivered the keynote speech last night, a passionate entreaty for Tea Party activists to go beyond politics and change the nation through examples of service and accountability.  I got some great pictures of Beck, as I was just off the stage to his right, which I’ll include in a Flickr slideshow of a few photos I took, in an update later today.

But in the realm of politics, Herman Cain clearly was the favorite of the convention, primarily because he was the only presidential candidate to show up.  He gave a passionate and inspiring speech while I was on stage with my colleagues Guy Benson and Katie Pavlich after a three-hour panel discussion about the presidential race.  Cain added a couple of interesting elements to his stump speech — an exhortation in full support of the Second Amendment, and an explanation of his foreign-policy philosophy, complete with his assurances of complete support for Israel.  In a brief Q&A with our panel after his speech, Cain told the crowd that he fully supported Barack Obama’s decision to strike Anwar al-Awlaki.

After seeing the reception TeaCon Midwest gave Cain, it was all but assured that Cain would win the straw poll, which he did with 77.5% of the vote.  Interestingly, Obama was included in the straw poll, and he managed to finish third-to-last, with a handful of votes.  Guy joked at the announcement that some of the media must have cast ballots, but even more amusingly, Jon Huntsman and Gary Johnson finished below Obama, with a combined total of zero votes.

After Cain’s appearance, he moved into a different room for a media availability, most of which I caught on camera.  The image is a bit blurry because I didn’t wait for the focus to fully set before starting the video, and I didn’t want to miss the answers to the questions being tossed at Cain.  He defended his time with the Fed during persistent questioning from a Paul supporter and insisted that he could maintain the political momentum he gained this week.  When someone asked about Asian carp, however, the group broke up in laughter and the presser came to a close, long after one of Cain’s aides kept repeating “Last question!”

Warner Todd Huston has more on the presser, Cain’s apparently tense meeting with a TeaCon Midwest backer, and a change in personnel on Team Cain.