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."
When you stand before the cameras at a nationally televised Presidential debate, and make stupid, idiotic, intellectually dishonest, lying statements like, "The stimulus has created ZERO jobs," what do you expect?
I'm not a big fan of RP, but I do support instate college tuition for children of illegal immigrants. They came into this state at no fault of their own. I dont agree with any of the other candidates on the stage on their attacks on RP on this issue. It just might swing me to vote democrat.
Perry was just a flash in the pan. Now that his true terrible record in TX and his extremist beliefs are becoming widely known – his candidacy will end as fast as it began. We will NOT consider another moron Republican governor from TX!!
5 bucks says the dame bolts 1st? ...hahhahaaahhhaaa ...too bad Cain is a black GOP wanna be ..he is a good man
i don't think so.. Perry and Romney sucks....
Nice picture of Perry. Any chance somebody could superglue that hand there?
I think Cain will make us the bettrer president .Hes smart and a down to earth kinda guy .Hes just got his act together ,Unlike Obama I think hes knows how to pull this country back together .Go Cain .
These are people who boo gay soldiers, cheer when the uninsured die, and threaten to use "second amendment" "solutions" to kill politicians they don't like. The last thing you want to do is hint at being compassionate, kind, or generous. The mere suggestion of that means you're not the kind of bully they're looking for and then they'll turn the venom on you. Sorry Rick Perry, you just don't hate enough.
Don't see a problem with this. Cain can beat Obama too. I'd vote for him in a minute. In addition, he would probably be better for the Blacks than Obama has been.
Perry beat Romney by 1.4% and that is a "a resounding victory over Romney", that is around 30 votes out of over 2700. But Perry lost to Cain by 21.6%. Now I would say Cain had a resounding victory of Perry.
Reuters reports a scary choice of words on the part of Rick Perry's spokesman, Mark Miner following the Florida Straw poll. Would someone tell Perry's spokesman that we don't "crown" presidents in the United States! That demonstrates a seriously disturbing mindset coming from the Perry camp. Would electing Perry result in a future dictator who refuses to relinquish power and instead marches to a religious right drummer??
Cain smoked everyone else in the last debate. He had the best answers by far, proved he could think on his feet...just stating fact here, and I like his 9/9/9 tax. If we have a black man running against Obama maybe we can bring more blacks over to the conservative side, permanently. I'm white by the way.
The baby boomers have now become senior citizens many of which live in Florida and also have social security as a very important part of their income. In his book, as Perry's rivals will not let folks forget, Perry attacks social security. I am 73 and also depend on social security for part of my income. If I was living in Florida, and a Republican, I would have voted againist Perry also.
This social security issue is the prime obstacle in Perry's path to the nomination. If he does win the nomination, it will also remain the prime obstacle in the bid to become President. If he cannot overcome that, he needs to withdraw.
The teabagger/wingnut trainwreck implosion rolls on full speed ahead. Rick Bush is toast.
How nice that the Florida voters showed some sense and did not vote for the religious conservative "Wingnuts".
Herman Cain and Marc Rubio, whats not to like?
So, Mr. Cain is going to be our next President? They have been touting that the person that wins the Florida straw poll is always the nominee. I can definitely live with that. This could get interesting.
Cain is another Palin. Lots of red meat speeches, "impeach Obama" (on what grounds, Mr. Cain?), populist statements, blah blah blah. Republicans can't seem to land on anyone. Mitt was their darling, then Bachmann, then Perry, now Cain. Seems to be a sign that Republicans are not really happy with ANY of their candidates yet.
Go Herman Cain !!! I personally have had enough Texas Republicans as President to last me several lifetimes, especially after the last Texas boob, " W " . I vote no more Texans.. :-)
It's always good to see someone other than Rick & Romney win, even if the winner is farther out on the fringe than either of them.
Remember when elections were about which side was better? Now it's all about which side is worse. The economy is in the dumper, so Obama is vulnerable, but the GOP has shifted all the way to the irrational right and made themselves unelectable. Gonna be a nasty 2012.
So is it time for Santorum, Bachmann and the rest of the single digiters to pack it in and stop embarrassing themselves? Why did Santorum even bother at all? He never had the slightest chance and Bachmann is fooling herself nearly as bad as Palin.
Perry will never be ready for prime time!
This is going to be quite interesting than what we witnessed in 2008 Dem's nomination!
So, let me get this straight. When Perry loses out to one candidate and is questioned about it, he says "Hey, look something completely different!" and runs while you're distracted.
I'm not terribly fond of nearly any of the candidates in this race, but you all are terribly amusing, aren't you?
Perry in the White House is too scary.