I was proud to be a witness to State Representative Scott Plakon's endorsement of Herman Cain last night. Representative Plakon is one of my favorite legislators, and it has been great to watch him become a strong, conservative leader in the Florida House. He and his wife Susie and their family are also some of the nicest people you could ever meet, and I am blessed to be able to call them friends.
The impact of this endorsement should not be underestimated. Scott Plakon may not be well known (yet) outside the state of Florida, but he is extremely well-liked here and very active in conservative political causes around the state. Americans for Prosperity's Florida Chapter named him their 2011 State Representative of the Year, and he has been a leader in opposing ObamaCare, sponsoring the Florida Health Care Freedom Act. Plakon is a solid fiscal and social conservative and has owned and operated several successful businesses; he is the exact type of state leader Republican presidential candidates should want on their team.
[more commentary and video after the jump]
I talked with Scott and Susie before we walked up to meet with Cain and his staff, and they both emphasized not just how much they admire Cain's strong conservative principles, but also his warm and genuine personality. I have had the privilege of meeting Cain several times myself and have said several times that "it's impossible not to like Herman Cain." One of the reasons I refuse to officially endorse a candidate unless I have met them is that I strongly believe there is no substitute for being able to shake someone's hand and look them in the eye, and Cain excels at this type of interaction. Too many politicians have the personality and humanity bred or trained out of them, but Cain does not suffer from that problem.
I did not ask to video during Cain and Plakon's meeting, because I wanted them to be able to speak openly and off the record, but I will tell you that it was great to see them just sit and talk as two businessmen, fathers, and conservatives. They both share a commitment to fight for this country and an optimism that I admire. After Plakon had officially given his endorsement, I took this quick video to capture the moment:
Right after I filmed this video, Cain went to the next room to greet a packed room of about 1,000 supporters. Plakon announced his support for Cain and gave a warm introduction and then Cain gave an amazing, energizing speech to the crowd. I go to a lot of political events, and I have to say, it really was something special. I did get video of most of the speech but had some camera problems and need to edit it.
Make of this what you will: I had to delete old video (that I had already downloaded to my computer) to make room on the camera, and I was deleting Rick Perry videos to make room for Cain. According to Byron York of the Washington Examiner, my fellow delegates may decide to "delete" Perry for Cain in the straw poll today:
What seems to be happening is this: A lot of delegates came to Orlando planning to vote for Rick Perry. But Perry's poor performance at Thursday night's Fox News-Google debate gave them pause and re-opened the question of whom they will support. And many of the conservatives who were attracted to Perry will, when asked for a second choice, naturally gravitate to Cain, who, it just happens, had a particularly good debate on Thursday. So with Perry not commanding the loyalty he did just 48 hours ago, Cain appears to be picking up support.
Here's a great write-up from Stacy McCain...aka "I should have listened to Sarah Rumpf:"
Straw poll results will be announced at 6:00 pm EDT. Should be interesting!