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."
Pizza must be very popular in Florida.
Herman Cain in 2012 !!!
Rick Ponzi: Texas Toast
That is pretty sad and truth telling of the GOP since Cain won the straw poll in Florida. We got problems.
Herman roughly scored a total of 810 votes in a state of 18 million. Why are the straw polls even news when only the nuts vote in them. I don't think the Florida straw poll is going to be a good inidicator of the GOP nomination this year.
Herman Cain is the real deal and has true integrity. I think even ardent GOPers can see the leadership qualities in this man.
Caine is a conservative Perry isn,t. I would support Caine in a second if he is the candidate. Perry or Romney I would have to hold my nose to pull the lever.
But anyone is is better than the current buffoon in chief. Obama isn,t qualified to wipe cars down at a car wash never mind be president.
As a Floridian this is a lose lose situation from a reputation stand point...
But-but-but they're racists! They can't vote for a black man! He MUST be a fraud! Yes, thats it. Whew. Almost had me worried. Back to taxing and spending...
Who cares about these clowns?
Ron Paul 2012
I can see what the subject of the Republican Tea Parties next cross burning meeting is already going to be about.
Ah, those nasty racist Tea Party members. At it, again.....
This is the GOP version of the "hanging chad"? Who cares! They are both crazy.
Wonder what Morgan Freeman has to say about that? Please enlighten us O' Wise One, what is the secret racism behind this?
perry responded, "why are the straw polls angry at me? i like straw"
Well, it is Florida
I am so happy to see Herman Cain gaining traction! Here is a man who gives us SPECIFIC details about his plans and exactly how he wants to get us from Point A to Point B. So many politicians give broad, sweeping speeches about their ideals but so rarely do you find a politician who has detailed plans all ready!! Love him or hate him, at least you know what you're signing up for with this guy. Very refreshing and I wish him the best!
The guy can't make a decent pizza but he is supposed to be a good president?
Cain isn't going to win the Republican nomination. However, don't be surprised if he's chosen as a VP candidate next year.
Oh, how the Perry forces are trying to play down their BIG loss in the important state of Florida by trying to pin it on Romney's inadequacies who was a mere ONE point behind him. But the fact remains that Perry Is Not A Strong Leader! He lacks the finesse and touch of a polished speaker and leader that is so required of a Presidential candidate. If he hasn't learned how to do it yet, after serving more than a dozen years as Texas Governor, then he is literally hopeless and that is why, consequently, people are looking elsewhere at this time and it is very noticeable. This is only the beginning of a great Spiral Downward for candidate Perry. He may as well decide to go back to Texas and finish off his term as governor and continue to help illegal immigrants with all of the social helps he has given to them and will continue to do. Goodbye Perry!
Hmm... will this change the media narrative about the race? Probably not.
I have no problem with Cain being president. He is better than Odumbo anyday.
This is just another indicator that the GOP is splintered and fragmented in so many ways they don't have a chance to win in 2012. Not to mention they are losing voters in droves every time there is a Republican debate and cheers are heard for things like the number of people Texas has put to death and the notion that the uninsured sick should just die. They are finally showing their true colors in a way that would puzzle anyone with even mediocre intelligence. This is the second bad showing for Perry and I think it's the beginning of a trend – now that the people have had a better look at him, he looks like the brutish, moronic Texan he is.
>>>"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."<<<
Apparently neither can Perry. Sometimes "spokesmen" should just be quiet.
5.5 years? Just one more fact the Perry camp gets wrong.
Perry needs to permanently keep his hand over his mouth !
Perry / Enron ?