The Republican presidential lineup got a bit more muddled over the weekend. Businessman Herman Cain won the Florida straw poll by a landslide -- 37% to Texas Governor Rick Perry's 15% and Mitt Romney's 14%. But does that result say more about Cain or the supposed front-runners?
Cain says it's his message that's getting through, especially his economic plan that calls for a shift in the U.S. tax code to a 9 percent corporate tax, a 9 percent personal income tax, and a 9-percent sales tax. As for Perry's poor showing, many politicos believe it's fall-out from a weak performance at last week's GOP debate. In particular, Florida voters would have paid close attention to Perry's remarks on allowing undocumented students in Texas to pay low in-state tuition.
The good news for everyone other than Cain is that the Florida straw poll is not a strong predictor for future success. Another indicator that Republicans aren't content with the current slate is the buzz around New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The Wall Street Journal reports there is "an 11th-hour push to persuade [Christie] to enter the 2012 presidential race." Christie has been emphatic that he would not join the fray, but tomorrow he'll be given another chance to declare. He's scheduled to speak at the Ronald Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley.
Is Gov. Christie a serious candidate? Could he raise the funds? And who in the GOP field would be thrown off if Christie enters? What do you make of the Florida straw poll results? How did Perry's latest debate performance impact the numbers?
Jonathan Wilcox, Republican Strategist; former speech writer for Governor Pete Wilson
Arnold Steinberg, Veteran Political Strategist and Analyst