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."
Remember, the Tea Party is the racist party. Remember that libs.
OK, how exactly do you turn a momentum-gathering, potentially campaign-saving, overwhelming victory for Herman Cain into a story about Rick Perry?
Let's hope this is the beginning of the end of this idiot's campaign. the last thing we need is another texas ignoramus in the White House. any repug would be a disaster but this one would be a total disaster.
Strange that the reporting was on Perry's Campaign Rep's reaction rather than mentioning much about the victor. Herman Cain.
Wow didnt see that coming. The Perry part yes but by Cain? LMFYAO! Those old folks in FL not as deaf blind and dumb as u thought eh? Why dont you good ol teabaggin boys and gal pack it up and try again in 2016. Obama/Biden 2012
It is wonderful to see the bottom tier GOP candidates trounce the top tier, even if it is in a meaningless straw poll of only a few thousand. It seems as through they are eating their own. Cannibals.
No suprise Cain is smart–he and Paul make the grade–Perry is a nothing–just look at him–he is about as Presidental as Bush and obama are.
I hope it's Obama vs Cain...then the liberals can't say that Republicans are racists.
This shouldn't really come as a surprise to anyone. Cain has consistently shown conservative values Republicans want in their president, whereas Perry pretty much just does whatever he thinks is most likely to get him elected. Perry has his eyes on that cushy president job and is willing to kiss whoevers *** he must to get there. I don't think he has any true political beliefs, conservative, liberal or otherwise– I think his only idea about the country is that it would be better if he were president, at least for him. Perry is not even a true Christian, he just plays one on TV.
A vote for Perry in the primary is a vote for Obama in the general.
Suddendly this is a headline on CNN.. after down playing this debate news for few days by CNN.. They are happy to see Perry losing this insignificient poll..Perry is the only candidate from GOP to beat Obama..and we all know CNN loves Obama..He is right on his immigration policy..to get education for this miserable children before they turned to criminals and waste millions of tax payers dollars..
Another "white knight" gets trampled by the ponies on the merry-go-round of clowns!
Perry's people call it a "devastating loss" for Romney. I guess that's because Perry got 15% of the votes and Romney got 14%. Spin fail.
Herman Cain 2012. Ha! Ha!
What an underwhelming crew of losers, rednecks and bimbos. While Mr. Cain is an honorable and intelligent man, He does not possess the Obama persona so important in this age of soundbites and planned photo ops.
Thank you Republigoons for insuring the re-election of our current President Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Herman Cain: delivering freedom in 45 minutes or less
I'd like to think the Easter Bunny or Alfred E. Newman would get more votes than Rick Perry. It was also reassuring to see the cheerleader come in dead last. Maybe Republicans are smarter than most people give them credit for.
Cain vs President Obama! MNNNNN!
In other words, Cain knows how to hate better than the rest. How pathetic.
From Fascist Crazy to Super-Fascist Crazy....the most vile line up GOP sleaze balls ever.
This is not to mean anything significant....the GOP would NEVER nominate a black man to the presidency, an office they deem only meant for white men. Remember, the tea kettle went on the high burner when a black family moved into the white house! LOL
just goes to show you the people of florida wont let the wool be pulled over their eyes.
The former CEO of godfather's pizza??? LOL!!!!! This is why no-one takes conservatives seriously anymore.
My hat is off to Mr. Cain. He is a good business man and that is just what this Country needs. Politicians have made such a mess with our Country that it is going to take someone like Mr. Cain to set a new direction and I believe this man can do just that.
Way to go, Mr. Cain. So great to see a black man with some sense for a change. All we get is Obama.