Cain wins big at Florida Straw Poll

September 25, 2011

By USA Today,

ORLANDO — Businessman Herman Cain scored a major upset Saturday, winning the Florida straw poll and creating a new set of problems for Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

The final tally: Cain carried 37% of the vote, Perry 15% and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney 14%. Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum was at 11%, Texas Rep. Ron Paul at 10% and former House speaker Newt Gingrich at 9%. Trailing far behind were former Utah governor Jon Huntsman and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, at 2%.

The straw poll in Orlando was non-binding and voting was limited to about 3,500 delegates who had paid $175 each to attend Presidency 5, hosted by the Florida GOP. But Perry’s failure to win on the heels of a shaky performance in Thursday’s debate will underscore concerns by some of his supporters about whether he can maintain and build on his quick rise in the polls.

Cain was one of just three contenders who showed up to speak at the Saturday convention. He got a particularly enthusiastic reception, disputing the “rumor” that he couldn’t win the election and saying it was time to send “a problem-solver” rather than a politician to the White House. “Send Washington a message!” he said, bringing the crowd to its feet.

Listing crises on everything from the economy to moral values, he said he could “hit the target called fix-it.”

Santorum noted he had defeated a Democratic senator in Pennsylvania, a swing state, and told the audience: “You folks in Florida have to find somebody who will not only stand up and give a good talk” but also “someone who can win the election, someone who is a consistent conservative. . . and has proven they can win in the places we need to win. That’s what we need. That’s what we’re working for.”

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