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."
Governor Ponzie looks like a flash in the pan.
Florida voters seem to be smart enough to vote for the candidate with real experience. Not slickster BS artists. The "nice hair " twins seem to be losing their sheen.
It won't matter one iota once Cain drops out of the race.
If the "you don't have a heart" booing does not consolidate the bagger-kidnapped GOP as racist through and through, I don't know what does...
Our political system is broken when congress cannot function rationally for the good of the people they represent. There should be a recall for our congressional senators and representatives when they can't negotiate and make decisions in a timely manner and their pay should be withheld. I'd bet the threat of recall and loss of pay would give them a shove in the right direction!!! Some of them have definitely loss touch with reality and need to be put to pasture!
Would be fun to see Cain run against Obama. NO one could toss around the ridiculous r a c e card then, and it would put a dent in the Obama devotee's predeliction for doing that.
What can you say?
Florida likes pizza !
I am so glad to see Perry lose. He is a career politician snake and total flip flopper. Florida is starting to see what the rest of the country is starting to understand what type of low life person Rick Perry really is. As Gov of Texas he has taken stimulus money for a variety of projects and then criticizes President Obama's stimulus package. He continues to borrow money from The Federal Government & still criticizes the Feds for spending the money Texas is borrowing. He complains about Obams's health plan yet Texas dropped to about 40th in heath care spending.
Perry is an idiot
Very surprised Perry beat Romney despite his pathetic showing in the debate. I don't see Romney winning the nomination because the tea party-led Republicans won't allow a Mormon represent their party. Sad but true.
That certainly is an upset. Goes to show, Americans (Republicans anyway) are so ready for change that they'll elect a complete outsider. If he does get nomination, Cain will get the entire black vote, the entire pro-Israel vote, AND the full republican vote. Translated: This is horrible news for BO. I am sad Ron Paul in at only ~10%, though.
Yeah I can see how calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme could lose you some support in Florida. Bahahaha! That is all.
Ron Paul won california, cain won florida, bachmann won iowa, what does this mean? the division within the republican party is as big as the grand canyon.
All this proves is that the Republican’s are nuts and don’t have any ideas and cannot come to grips with reality. Folks, there are two types of people. One, when pressed seeks ways to change so as to become better and overcome whatever odds they are facing. The other, stops caring and doubles down on what they were doing that caused the problems. The GOP is the latter. When pressed after the failure of George W. Bush, the GOP did not seek to find a new path that would address the wrongs of their party but rather doubled down on far-rightist radical thinking. They have strapped themselves into their first class seats and are more than willing to sink the ship of state if that is what it takes. We cannot afford more GOP control. Vote every conservative out of office next November.
only CNN and other media outlets thing Perry is a presidential candidate. The public think Ron Paul and This Cain guy are tops.
This is it? This is the best that a major political party in the wealthiest and most powerful country on earth can put forward as candidates for President of the United States? Lunatics? Losers? Liars?
One just doesn't know to determine who's the worst candidate. It seems an impossible task.
Lol, in that picture Perry looks stunned. Perry is going to flame out just as Fred Thompson did in 2008.
OMG! Come on SARAH...please save America. Join the race.
I'm not suprised at this outcome, anyone would be better than Rick Perry.
I support the Governor
as long as the Perry Supporters lessen. Im fine!
Hey Rick, next time try squinting and raising your hands to the lord...that usually works.
CNN was having a conflict with running this story. On the one hand there's the anything to bring Perry down angle. On the other hand they don't want black democrats to see that it's okay to be a black republican.
If they were Democrats the Faux News headline would be "Black man beats white male in Florida"