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."
How could a black man win the straw poll? I keep hearing that all the Republicans are racist since they want to get Obama out of office. Now I am confused, do I believe the liberals who claim the GOP are all racists, or do I believe the GOP actions?
It's sad to see a very intelligent black man used by the Rebublican Party to score a few points. We ALL know they can't stomach having another African American in a position of power. Nor can they even consider having a Mormon in the same position.
It's all a sick game, the same one they played with the FORMER learder of the GOP who is now working for MSNBC as a commentator. FOX News didn't have any openings? Go figure! Pretty sad, isn't it?
I thought all Republicans were racist??? Isn't this TeaParty Country?
Worth as much as that piece of straw
This must be perplexing for the Republicans. Cain is unelectable in the Republican Party and even in a state filled with bigots and bible-thumpers Perry can't win. Could it be the Republicans are discovering how broken they really are? You're putting crazy people up against a wise, articulate, and caring man. You've got hate against compassion and fear mongering against solid diplomacy. Find somebody who isn't nut s and won't look ridiculous as your represaentative! Do it soon!
What I thought the republicans were rasicts
Florida voters are obviously more sophisticated in spotting nut cases like Bachman (less than 2%of votes).
oh please this is a silly attempt by the GOP to counteract the racist image (based on fact) that the party was. Completely orchestrated. amazing
While Ron Paul is my personal favorite, I am both very happy Perry did not place first and Cain did. Cain, at this point in time, is my number two pick – but that isn't say much given my choices. Still, I like the guy and would actually feel good voting for him. In regards to Perry, why is he so popular? He's a slime bucket that has Bush 3.0 tattooed on his forehead. Don't get me started on Romney...
Perry, the only reason for the upset is because of your speech. You are too unstable to be president.
All these Republicans are lunatics, who have no grasp of reality or the truth.
you can shut this talk down but you cant shut the people down you pinche asshose are the ones who brought us this loser the american people will not forget
Perry has a very difficult record to defend because he has never been a definitively principled politician; instead, he has served his paymasters and political allies whenever necessary and spun it however he could. The hicks here in Texas buy his line, but now he is in the national spotlight. That is why I want him to win the GOP nomination. Obama 2012. Healthcare for all an let the rich pay their fair share.
I thought Cain was done. Interesting.
This is the best news I've read on CNN in a long time.
Now they will start doing a hatchet job on him, but they'll do that eventually anyway.
Only Black Democrats are pampered, Black Conservatives are ripped to shreds in the press.
Herman Cain. You just can't make this right wing stuff up.
Congratulations to Herman Cain for his well-earned victory in the Florida Straw Poll. In spite of the media hyper-actively promoting the candidacies of Perry and Romney, the people have spoken and said they believe in someone with REAL WORLD EXPERIENCE, not more career politicians! Herman Cain is on a roll and when more Americans hear his positive plan for re-invigorating America, they will see that he is our true best hope in 2012 and beyond!!
Not surprising, the more people hear Rick Perry, the more they think he's an idiot. Perry, Palin and Bachmann are the victims of our education system.
Back to dmv to change from registered independant to repub so i can actually take part in the primaries as independants are excluded as if thats legal
Cain-Huntsman 2012 will be formidable! Cain can focus on the economy, Huntsman is the perfect man to advise President Cain on foreign policy. They both have excellent jobs plans (Cain's 9-9-9 plan plus Hunstman's tax strategy) that compliment each other. Cain will be a breath of fresh air to cater to people that are sick of Washington insiders. Huntsman will take care of those people who like Cain but are concerned about his lack of political experience (which to me is actually an asset and not a liability). Cain will appeal to conservatives. Hunstman will apear to moderate, independents and even some Democrats. Cain will even take away some of Obama's minority following. What's more, bothe of them are excellent debaters...Imagine a Cain vs Obama (without his teleprompter) debate. I can totally see Cain coming out victorious. Or imagine a Hunstman vs Biden debate. I think Hunstman would step all over Biden on that one...A win-win situation for Republicans and the rest of the country!
Yeah, but this time next year either Romney or Perry will be facing Obama and not Cain because the teabaggers are only using him as a token. Just like the repubs used Steele as their token and then got rid of him once the regained some power.
Hey–it's Florida...don't get too excited!!!
At the Republican/Tea party debate. Republicans and Tea party members who sat there jeering the soldier sitting in a foriegn country protecting their freedom and keeping them safe. They who raised their voices "Let him die" share the same psychological traits as those that created the system of segregation, came up with the "Final Solution" and conceived of apartheid. When they booed the defender of freedom and said let those less fortunate die. What they were really saying is. We don't hold these truths to be self evident. All men are not created equal. Only those that think as we do have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They told the world don't "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free". The Tea party made it unmistakably clear that they do not live up to American ideals and it is now a fact they are an extremist group and allied with the Republicans.
The fact that Perry finished 2nd is surprising to me. I was looking for Ron Paul to place higher and Perry and Romney to sink. Seem most people still do not get it. Perry is sympathetic to illegals cause he needs the hispanic vote. A Fox News poll showed Ron Paul with a huge lead over the field with over 100,000 votes being cast. I was surprised as well at his finish. Herman Cain seems to be a smart man and I like his "common sense" approach. However I would still prefer Ron Paul with Cain as a running mate. Perry and Romney are just more of the same Washington crap. Neither has laid out a plan other than "buy my book". The only people who seem to think Perry is the front runner is the media. I live in Florida and not one person I have asked supports Perry. Congrats Herman Cain! A vote for anyone but Romney or Perry is a vote in the right direction.
I will vote for Herman Cain POTUS 2012