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."
I am rooting for Perry.
Perry is a con I know him as governor of Texas he lies if elected this would be the worst injusted to the American people you have ever seen
I really like Cain. He is not as slick a politician as some of the others, but I really believe his heart and intentions are in the right place. I think that Cain vs. Obama could make for an interesting campaign season.
I heard this sound, like a falling plane, but my wife told me it was only Bachmann's political ambitions.
And what of Michele Bachmann? Did she even turn up?
This was a hugh loss for Perry. He worked the straw poll hard, for him to beat Romney by only a few votes should worry him. Cain was the big winner but Romney comming in so close to perry was a big win for him. Romney spent no money or time on the straw poll and perry spent alot. Romney can beat Obama and that is why he will be the GOP candidate.
What's wrong with the blue hairs?
Even President Obama warned Rick Perry to be very careful what he says now that he is in national political stage. But gov. Perry ignored that warning to his peril. What an IDIOT!
Congratulations to Mr. Cain!
Worst, most unqualified group of candidates I've ever seen the GOP field. Reagan is rolling over in his grave.
Every time I am led to think the Republicans might have reached their peak of stupidity, they surpass themselves and conquer yet higher summits. God help what's left of this country...
Perry is done I hope. Granting in-state tuition to illegal immigrants is a slap in the face to out-of-texas Americans. It has nothing to do with heart. Im a Huntsman but would not be opposed to a Cain/Huntsman ticket
In all the polls, and I say it again, ALL THE POLLS in internet where people around the country can vote RON PAUL is the winner. He won in almost all the straw polls before this one and didnt get the coverage he deserve. Whenever there is an online poll that show him as a winner, it is pulled out if you dont believe me ask CNN, Fox News, CBS etc who neglected their owns polls juts to hide the big acceptance Ron Paul has around the country. It is time to a change, that change is RON PAUL and the most important thing is that people know that and will vote for him. RON PAUL 2012
Nobody had heard of Obama before his run either...
This straw poll just goes to show that the American people will choose the best candidate and not the candidate to be chosen for the American people
Come on people. These "straw polls" are a COMPLETE JOKE..!!!!!!!!
I am sorry, but if this doesn't show you that the Republicans are messed then there is no hope for you.
Ha! Do the math... "resounding victory over Romney" = 38 votes.
Who is Herman Cain???
I saw the CNN clip. One more Republican know-nothing.
Somebody tell this moron that Social Security accounts are ALREADY in the holders name.
Geez, wher do they find these dingbats??
The amount of penises hitting my face right now is utterly unimaginable
The suggestion by Perry's spokesman that this is a tough loss for ROMNEY is ridiculous. Perry was supposed to win this poll and spent tons of time and money trying to win it. His effort at the debate was shockingly poor and awkward. It is essential that a presidential candidate be able to communicate clearly and intelligently... This is why Romney showed that he should be the nominee.
lol if herman cain is the republican nominee, obama is guaranteed a second term. cain is a token black guy for the right wingers who have no intention of making him their nominee.
While I support Romney, Perry's views on immigration is one area where I agree with him. America has always been a land of immigrants despite the racist views held by many who deem immigration to be a problem. Regarding higher education, it is discriminatory to make "out-of-state" students pay more. And it is one of major drawbacks of the current higher education system. Most college graduates go on to have their careers within 100 miles of where they went to school. One of the things that made California great in the past was that Pat Brown and other leaders recognized this and funded higher education from state coffers. It is one of the reasons Silicon Valley is in California and no other state has come close to matching it. Likewise, any college graduate should be given a green card.
Pizacane blew da tx gop ;so what.can tx aford a winer like rik and de big hpv scandle ?dêz bums wil burn
Wow, completely surprised both that Cain won and Perry is still in 2nd.
Herman Cain for Prez!