Orlando, Florida (CNN) - Texas Gov. Rick Perry's presidential campaign was dealt a worrying blow Saturday when he finished in a distant second place to businessman Herman Cain in a closely watched straw poll in Florida.
Cain won 37% of the 2,657 votes cast in the straw poll conducted at Presidency 5, a three-day convention sponsored by the Republican Party of Florida that brought thousands of party activists to Orlando.
Perry's campaign had courted Presidency 5 delegates for weeks and printed up glossy fliers that were distributed throughout the convention hall in Orlando, but the Texas governor captured just 410 votes, or 15.4% of the vote.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney finished third with 14%.
He was followed by former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (10.9%), Texas Rep. Ron Paul (10.4%), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (8.4%), former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (2.26%) and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann (1.5%).
Perry was expected to win the straw poll as the weekend began, but his underwhelming performance at a GOP debate on Thursday night raised questions about his readiness for prime time.
GOP activists at Presidency 5 also repeatedly expressed concern with Perry's forceful support for a Texas bill that grants in-state college tuition to illegal immigrants.
In the debate, Perry said opponents of the bill don't "have a heart," a comment that rankled conservatives here.
Cain, who charmed activists with a series of red meat speeches and a smooth debate performance, was mentioned frequently as a second choice among activists who came to Orlando ready to support Perry before changing their minds.
The Perry campaign cast their disappointing finish as a resounding victory over Romney, Perry's top rival for the GOP nomination.
"It's a devastating loss for Mitt Romney, who has been campaigning for president for the last five and a half years," said Perry spokesman Mark Miner. "We have only been in this race for five and a half weeks. Mitt Romney still cannot resonate with conservative voters, especially in Florida."
Miner admitted that "we still have work to do and we are going to get better."
Republicans don't know who they want - they just know the current crop of clowns are all fascists and losers.
Good. Maybe now the media will stop pushing the lie that Republicans are racist against African-Americans – as if J.C. Watts, Colin Powell, and Alan Keyes somehow never existed. The mystery is why it's taken so long for the media to catch on that Americans actually have reasons other than racism to want to replace President Obama.
Ha! The media can choke on it.
Cain shouts talking points–no depth or breadth.
Great..A true Conservative!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So long Rick, your time as King of the Hill didn't last long.
9-9-9 and proven business success and sings gospel music....!!
I think Perry is another Fred Thompson, a flash on the pan. At this point I think we need someone schooled in/adept in government and someone familiar with/adept in business and economics. More and more I begin to rethink writing Gingrich off. Maybe Romney and Gongrich or Gingrich and Romney. While I like some of the others, none have the experience and presence needed.
This is like a bad movie with no end in sight.....
Perry's an idiot, Romney's weak, Bachmann's finished, and Herman Cain is so delusional that he should be on heavy meds. Yeah. Right. Herman Cain as the republican nominee. He needs to refer to some of the films of the McCain/Palin campaign crowds so he can get a realistic view of his chances. At least they only called Obama 'muslim', 'terrorist", etc. They're going to reach back to their deep south roots for that special n word for Cain.
Great News ! To be dealt a blow like this is cause for celebration, to be sure. Governor Perry, aka "George W. Bush Incarnate," brings absolutely no value to the mix. To objective-minded people, he is a multi-faced, arrogant representative of the State of Texas – very much like GW Bush, only worse.
I believe people are finally catching on to who Rick Perry is, seeing precisely what is so about him. That the voters of Texas elected GWB and Rick Perry to the governorship speaks poorly about the decision-making ability of voters in the State. Let us hope this is the beginning of the end for Mr. Perry – clearly the most dangerous "candidate" of the entire field.
Ron Paul wins the California straw poll. Herman Cain wins the Florida straw poll. Maybe it's time to drop the Perry, Romney media bias.
Romney didn't even participate in the poll. He left Florida after the debate Thursday night.
Time to quit. All of them.
Good for you Mr.Cain. I am a Democrat but I fear any of the other. You if anyone could be a good alternative to our great President.
The strsw poll shocked me as much as Perry and no doubt Mitt Rommney.. But straw polls don't mean you win the nomination. I don't even know why they take straw polls as the voters are the ones that elect the candidate regardless of who wins the straw poll. Ron Paul won in California but he is low in the polls. I still believe Perry will win the nomination but he has more work to do since he decided late.
Saw this coming a mile away. My man stood up and ripped it away from George W Bush Jr. The RINO let his "Achilles Heel" bring him down. He will be finished in two weeks time because he nothing more than an illegal immigrant sympathizer and condoner. He even has a "sanctuary city" in his state, Houston. I kept telling all you IC's out there that you better check his past history on illegal immigration before you jumped on his bandwagon. See, once again, I was right. Dang, I hate it when I'm right!
It's a damn shame more Americans don't pay attention to Ron Paul.
I thought Bachmann getting the GOP nod would be awesome...but please, oh please, Lord, let Herman Cain get it and stand in front of the American public and debate Obama. Obama will be the first person to get 100% of the popular vote.
People just want common sense solutions to our prolems.......Get on tje Cain train people. Thank you Mr. Cain for giving hope to our country.
Ok... Now, they are trying to say the guy who did not participate lost! Come on Perry! you made a serious mistake and you're gonna have to pay for it! And you already see it. The fact is the American people are not ready for a guy like Perry. Att the end of the day, I think Mitt Romney will win the nomination.
A failure in his first outing. This election season is calling for a sarah palin to shake things up. Yes; the sarapbhopics will go mad but her entry into the race will fire up this lackluster republican field.
Is it any surprise that the Tparty favorite becomes a nobody the moment they open their mouth.Palin,Donnel, Sharon Angle, Bachmann ..... now Perry. All the Democrats have to do is Let them talk.
Perry suffers from foot in mouth disease. Next debate is in early October. If he screws up that one, he should pack it in...but I doubt he will. Within that puffed out chest of his, lies a massive ego.