Monday, September 26, 2011

A small orange piece of the P5 straw poll puzzle

It is extremely rare to win a straw poll or election for just one reason, and Charlie Crist is not why Herman Cain won the Presidency 5 straw poll, but he was one factor out of many that contributed to the tidal shift this week from Rick Perry to Cain.

Robert Stacy McCain, who blogs at The Other McCain, has been a strong supporter of Herman Cain for a long time. Stacy and I have discussed Cain's presidential campaign several times over the past few months, and quite a lot over the past few days, for obvious reasons.

One topic that came up was recent history here in the Sunshine State, as many Florida Republicans felt betrayed when Crist left the party. The whole Crist saga has reemerged in people's minds because of L'affaire de Greer being in the news so much recently.

Over the past year, I have noticed that anything related to Marco Rubio and his historic run for the United States Senate is wildly fascinating to conservatives outside of Florida, and Stacy was no exception. Near the end of an almost hour-long phone call yesterday, I made a comment about Crist and Stacy wanted to know more and then published this entertaining article a few hours later:

Sarah Rumpf helped facilitate Florida state Rep. Scott Plakon’s endorsement of Herman Cain, which in turn helped Cain score his crushing upset of Texas Gov. Rick Perry in Saturday’s Orlando “Presidency5″ straw poll. Today, I spoke at length with “Sunshine State Sarah” to get the backstory of that endorsement, and she pointed out a little-noticed aspect of Perry’s humiliating defeat. 
“Perry hired a lot of the Charlie Crist people,” she said, referring to former aides to the permatanned ex-RINO governor who got crushed in last year’s Tea Party uprising that sent Marco Rubio to the Senate. 
...The Crist association gave a slight tinge of RINO-ism to the Perry campaign, undermining the Texan’s desired image as a solid conservative. So when Perry accused opponents of illegal immigration of being heartless, it stirred bitter memories of Crist’s “centrist” ways among those who had fought hard to elect Rubio. 
Rumpf held one of the first Orlando-area fundraisers for Rubio’s campaign, and Plakon was also an early Rubio supporter. Both Rumpf and Plakon are backing Rubio ally Adam Hasner in the 2012 GOP Senate primary to take on Democrat Bill Nelson. It was during a Friday forum for the Republican Senate candidates that Plakon mentioned his idea of endorsing Herman Cain. 
...Plakon’s endorsement was an enormous boost for Cain on the eve of the straw-poll, and helped convince Florida Republicans that Cain is a legitimate presidential contender.

After the 2010 campaign, when state party chairman Jim Greer and NRSC chairman John Cornyn connived to “fix” the race for Crist 15 months before the GOP primary, rank-and-file Republicans in Florida have become sick and tired of being told to “get in line,” Sarah told me...
Again, Charlie Crist is not why Herman Cain won this weekend's straw poll. And by no means is everyone who ever supported, endorsed, or worked for Charlie Crist a bad person or not conservative. However, the fact remains that any association with Crist is a negative for most Florida Republicans - especially the dedicated party activists who were the voting delegates at Presidency 5.

Florida Republicans are focused like a laser on the importance of selecting a presidential nominee who can defeat Barack Obama and support a truly conservative agenda in Washington. 

Governor Oompa Loompa was just one small orange piece of the puzzle of explaining how Herman Cain won the straw poll, but it was one of the multiple factors that combined to make Florida Republicans doubt his conservative bona fides and seek out another champion to carry their torch.

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