ORLANDO, FL — It’s official: Cainmentum is back. In Florida anyway.
In what can only be seen as a major defeat for frontrunner Rick Perry, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and tea party superstar Herman Cain swept the results of the Presdiency5 straw poll, a gathering of several thousand state Republicans, Saturday.
Perry had pushed hard to win the poll, and rival Mitt Romney didn’t officially participate (neither did Michele Bachmann.) But after a debacle of a debate Thursday night, Perry’s efforts fell flat and Cain took home the gold.
“This is a sign of our growing momentum and my candidacy that cannot be ignored,” Cain said afterwards in a statement. “I will continue to share my message of ‘common sense solutions’ across this country and look forward to spending more time in Florida, a critical state for both the nomination and the general election.”“
The Georgia businessman got a boost in recent days from conservative bloggers like the influential Erick Erickson at Red State, who declared Perry a “train wreck” in Thursday’s debate and named Cain the clear winner. Others, like Ed Morrissey at HotAir, pumped up Cain’s performance as well.
Cain’s debate earned him more than just kind words: his spokeswoman, Ellen Carmichael, told TPM on Saturday that they had raised more money in the last 48 hours than at any point in the campaign.
Perry congratulated Cain after the victory in a statement, saying the poll “shows the conservative message of job creation, fiscal responsibility and limited government is gaining momentum.” But he quickly pivoted from Cain to attacking Romney, his chief rival for the nomination.
“Floridians and voters nationally want a candidate who is clear on the issues and talks honestly about the future, not someone who takes multiple sides of an issue and changes views every election season,” Perry said. “Today’s vote demonstrates that Floridians are energized and ready to help get America working again.”
The final tally (2657 votes were cast):
Herman Cain: 37.11%
Rick Perry: 15.43%
Mitt Romney: 14%
Rick Santorum: 10.88%
Ron Paul: 10.39%
Newt Gingrich: 8.43%
Jon Huntsman: 2.26%
Michele Bachmann: 1.51%