ORLANDO, Florida, September 26, 2011 ( – The Republican presidential landscape dominated almost exclusively by Mitt Romney and Rick Perry in recent weeks was shaken up by the results of a Florida straw poll this weekend that put businessman Herman Cain in a commanding lead.

The poll of Florida Republican activists found 37 percent favoring Cain, while only 15 percent voted for Texas Gov. Perry and 14 percent for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Perry campaigned extensively in the area, while Romney did not compete in the poll. Former Sen. Rick Santorum took 11 percent; U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, 10 percent; Newt Gingrich, 8 percent; and Jon Huntsman, 2 percent.


U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, who also did not compete in the poll, finished with less than 2 percent. In an Iowa straw poll earlier this summer, before Perry entered the campaign, Bachmann was virtually neck-and-neck with Paul as the top conservative favorite.

“People are listening to the message and not just, with all due respect, to the media,” said Cain in response to the poll result on NBC’s “Today” show.

The Los Angeles Times reports that a prominent Perry supporter claimed in a Twitter post that Romney’s campaign had encouraged its supporters there to vote for Cain, and some have suggested that Cain’s victory can be attributed to a “protest vote” against Perry – a suggestion that Cain has dismissed.

Although he has no record as a politician, Cain, who also ran for the GOP nomination in 2000, describes himself as staunchly conservative on social issues. “I am pro-life from conception,” Cain said in a June 13 CNN interview when asked about his abortion position. Cain also stated, “I support traditional marriage,” an answer he repeated without elaboration when asked about civil unions for homosexual couples.

Cain refused to sign a pro-life pledge authored by the Susan B. Anthony List in June, saying that the pledge’s wording was untenable for technical reasons. “They wanted me to say that I would advance that particular legislation [to end taxpayer funding of abortion]. The president can’t advance legislation, and when I challenged them on it, they didn’t want to change it,” Cain told FOX News. “I don’t want to sign a pledge to say that I can do something that I cannot do.” Cain insisted in a statement that his refusing the pledge “in no way … denote[s] an abandonment of the pro-life movement.”

The businessman has eagerly taken up the fight against Planned Parenthood – which he has called “Planned Genocide” – and says its racist roots continue to show in its business policy.

“When Margaret Sanger – check my history – started Planned Parenthood, the objective was to put these centers in primarily black communities so they could help kill black babies before they came into the world,” he said, explaining his support for defunding the abortion giant.

A 2004 AP article describes Cain as opposing abortion in cases of rape and incest, with an exception for pregnancies that threaten the mother’s life. 

Cain also refused to sign an extensive traditional marriage pledge by The Family Leader, a pro-family lobby group, as well as another, smaller pledge proposed by the National Organization for Marriage.  Last month, however, Cain suggested that Obama could be impeached for refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act.

Unlike Santorum and Bachmann, Cain’s stance on social issues has clearly taken a backseat to his fiscal policy, the centerpiece of his campaign. Cain’s extensive business experience – he has served as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and CEO of the National Restaurant Association, a trade group – has provided a foil to President Obama’s spending habits.

In an interview with the Associated Press’ Joe Burbank this weekend, Cain called the president’s talking points pushing for a half-trillion stimulus bill “bulls***.”

“Can I be blunt? That’s a lie,” Cain said of Obama’s claim that a high-income tax hike to pay for the bill was “math” and not class warfare. “You’re not supposed to call the president a liar. Well if you’re not supposed to call the president a liar, he shouldn’t tell a lie. If it’s not class warfare, it’s highway robbery.”

While serving as president-elect of the restaurant lobby, Cain was credited with helping topple “Hillarycare,” the Clinton administration’s bid for health reform, in 1994. “Just like Obamacare, the numbers simply do not add up,” Cain told CNN in June.