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Perry Gambles on Florida Straw Poll?

11:04 AM, Sep 24, 2011 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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ABC News reports that Rick Perry is emphasizing the importance of today's Florida GOP P5 straw poll in Orlando, Florida, where he made his case in person this morning:

“There are number of folks and some campaigns who have spurned this tradition of the Florida straw poll,” Perry told an estimated crowd of 2,000 at a delegate breakfast hosted by his campaign. “I think that’s a big mistake. I think the Florida straw poll is very important.”

 Perry shared with the delegates his personal experience from 2000, as the then lieutenant governor awaited the Florida results from the presidential election to determine his next step in Texas.

 “There was a little notoriety out here about a thing called a hanging chad,” Perry said. “I just wanted to share with you what was about a month and a half – my hopes of being the governor of Texas were kind of in the balance during that same period of time and here we are eleven years later, and I’ve got my hopes on Florida again.”

Perry has been making this pitch in Orlando since Thursday, when he spoke to members of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and stressed the importance the straw poll. "I want you to know, I did not plan, when the debate’s over with, I’m not going back to Texas," Perry said, hours before the debate. "I’m staying in Florida. From here, were going to be competing all across this state. This P5 straw poll has served a great purpose over the course of the years. I think it’s really important for the candidates to understand, P5 matters. Ronald Reagan understood P5 mattered in 1979."

But is putting a lot of stock in the straw poll a gamble for the Perry campaign? As Stephen F. Hayes reports in the latest issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD, Perry may have done serious damage to his campaign in Florida with his debate performance: 

Belinda Kapaun came to the Republican presidential confab in Orlando last Thursday wearing a Rick Perry sticker. She was not wearing it Friday.

“He was my number one,” she said the morning after the FoxNews/Google presidential debate here.

Perry lost Kapaun with a weak performance marked by misstatements of fact, missed opportunities, and general incoherence. “When he was talking to Mitt Romney there was a part of that​—​if you printed it, I don’t think it even made sense,” she says....

But it was Perry’s defending Texas’s policy of charging in-state college tuition to the children of illegal immigrants, and the insult he directed at the opponents of his position​—​“I don’t think you have a heart”​—​that proved decisive for Kapaun.

“He lost me with that one line.”

Read the whole thing here.

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