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."
As a Cain supporter, I am absolutely loving this. If he does indeed get the nomination, it will be hysterical watching the libs dance around the race issue. They screamed and squawked that if any Republican didn't like Obama it was because they were racist. Let's see them do the same thing, but claim they can't be racist because they're Democrats. This could be good!!
It's a devastating loss for Rick Perry, who's been a governor for the last ten years. Herman Cain has been a pizza business owner and talk show host for the last ten years. Oh, and it's kind of ludicrous to call this a "loss" for Romney, given that he's made a big point of not competing in ANY straw polls at all this time around. The real story here is that Perry ONLY beat him by one percent of the vote.
Beats the crap out Obama in every aspect that can be addressed!
Cain have some good solution for the US. I we as a nation start iistening to him.
We are not fooled! A bunch conservatives in the Florida Tea Party voted for this guy, lol, it's propaganda Now they will say look who we voted for in Florida, yes I see, lol!
Great picture of Perry – O M G!
Bachmann should get out now. If she does, she can be the GOP running mate and take the Tea Party votes with her...if the nominee can stand the fact that she is an idiot.
That hurts! I guess he stopped displaying his crotch. Seriously, he has done very badly in the debates and he has a lot of baggage that the teapublikans will jut not put up with so he is pretty much toast.
If Perry believes in giving to illegal immigrants..........He don't have a prayer!!
Ohhhhh soooooo sad for perry, good for Pizza Man who thinks he can run a country like he did a pizza joint. Dose anyone really believe the GOP has this country's best interest at heart. They don't work with anyone not of the same mindset, they wont for whatever reason work with PRESIDENT Obama. They block any ideas he has, all in an attempt to make him fail. Obviously some in this party are prejudice and hateful (tea party) that the GOP isnt in control of the world. I wonder what those crazy tea partiers will do when PRESIDENT Obama, gets a second term. We really need to have a 3rd party to really gu up the works.
The straw polls are very useful tools to teach us one thing: That they are a joke.
Reality is, Perry is a moderate. And that's not exactly a bad thing.
to choose a republican candidate is unconcionable...to choose another imbred from tx. would be insanity! "the moon is a harsh mistress"
Most people already know that Rick Perry's LOUD mouth will cause his political downfall. It is just a matter of time before he crashes and burns.
This is excellent, and goes against all of the claims that the GOP are full of racists. I would welcome Mr. Cain as the nominee.
Who friggen cares. It's a straw poll. It means nothing. OR when it comes to CNN it's who gets poll position at the next debate. Love how the media decides who we vote for. Please CNN, I'm and idiot, tell me who to vote for. I am unaware of any one else running but Romney and Perry because you ignore the sane one. Did Bachmann just say something crazy? make that your headline instead of a Huntsman who made sense. Wake up people, CNN doesn't want you to vote for an intelligent person. These corporations can't control a person with a brain.
Don't believe anything about Florida politics. Remember, this state also had Jeb Bush as a governor for a long time.
What's the buzz? Tell me whats-a-happenin?
Perry does less well in front of audiences that aren't hand-picked it seems.
End of the trail Perry – light's out – game over – last train from Berlin – dawn at the Alamo – high noon at the Little Big Horn.
It is sooooo interesting watching the republicans, whom by the way, have nothing to say about education or poverty. They DO NOT have a vision beyond tearing down President Obama. I don't we're ready for a reality that has one of these people a leader of our country.
Huntsman is toast
How many delegates are awarded for winning a straw poll?
Cain seems grounded & has concise answers. The others but for Huntsman appear & maybe are mentally challenged or in zombie world.
That Cain won this just shows how weak this straw poll is. However it does show I like my President's just like my coffee.