Herman Cain, the former chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza, won the Florida straw poll today, defeating second-place Rick Perry after the Texas governor worked the crowd of activists with a breakfast speech Saturday morning.
Mr. Cain won nearly 40 percent of the 2,657 people who voted, more than doubling Mr. Perry’s total and that of Mitt Romney, who came in a close third.
All of the candidates spoke to the crowd of Florida Republicans who gathered here for the Faith and Freedom Coalition and Conservative Political Action Conference meetings.
But Mr. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, left the state early Friday for events in Indiana and Michigan, effectively telegraphing that his campaign did not place that much importance on the result.
Mr. Perry stayed in Florida through Saturday morning and hosted the breakfast for conference delegates. A win for Mr. Perry at the straw poll might have helped blunt criticism that has been building of his performance in Thursday night’s debate.
Instead, the victory went to Mr. Cain, who had whipped up the attendees with a fiery speech on Friday afternoon that had the crowd on their feet for an extended standing ovation.