Cain (Joe Burbank/AP)
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Not everyone needs to go to Disney World to have fun in central Florida.
After one of Herman Cain's strongest showings yet at a Republican presidential debate Thursday, and two days with conservative activists in the state, he won the "Presidency 5" straw poll in Orlando over the weekend, beating front-runner Texas Gov. Rick Perry by more than 20 points.
While straw polls are not scientific and their results can be poor indicators of whether a candidate will win a party's nomination--the latest actual Florida poll put Cain near the bottom--they can help spark some momentum, especially for lower-tier candidates. For Cain, a 65-year-old businessman, mathematician, author and radio host from Atlanta, Georgia, his straw poll win could well be the high-water mark of his campaign. And by his own admission, the path that brought him this far wasn't an easy one. The morning before the straw poll, I met Cain for coffee in a hotel near the convention center that hosted the debate and straw poll. As we discussed the early phase of the Republican primaries, he told me that before coming to Florida, he had nearly called it quits on two occasions.
"The thing that I've learned about myself in this campaign--because I've never had this happen to me before on a single challenge--is that I've gone to the brink, ready to pull the plug, but came back, twice," Cain said. "I've only had two days where I personally felt, should I pull the plug? For different reasons. That's how frustrating a campaign can be."
Read More »from Cain nearly quit campaign before Florida straw poll, calls Obama a ‘liar’