Fla. Senate President Haridopolos: GOP Debate Shook Up Race

Monday, 26 Sep 2011 04:16 PM

By Henry J. Reske and Ashley Martella

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The GOP presidential debate in Orlando, Fla., Thursday shook up the pecking order, and voters are considering back-of-the-pack candidates such as businessman Herman Cain and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos told Newsmax.TV.

In fact, the Florida Straw Poll that Republican activists in the Sunshine State voted in Saturday gave Cain a stunning 37 percent of the tally, compared with Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s 15 percent, Mitt Romney’s 14, Rick Santorum’s 11, Ron Paul’s10. Newt Gingrich’s 8, Jon Huntsman’s 2, and Michele Bachmann’s than 2. Romney and Bachmann chose not to compete in the Florida balloting.

Story continues below video.

“I think the recent debate really reshuffled the deck,” Haridopolos said during the exclusive interview in Orlando. “I think people are taking a second look at Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich. I was very interested to watch the dynamics between Perry, let alone, of course, Mitt Romney, but I think we’re still pretty early and I hope we’ll have a battle of ideas. I don’t want to be the party of no. I want to be the party of better ideas — and I heard of bunch of them just the other night.”

Haridopolos also said he believes that Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., can be defeated in his re-election bid in 2012.

Nelson “has a very liberal record,” Haridopolos noted. “But what you need to do in that race in my humble opinion is to stay positive, talk about what you’d do as senator, not tear down fellow Republicans. A lot of Republicans are disappointed — there have been a lot of negative campaigns already. Let’s keep it positive. Let’s talk about better ideas, not just tearing down others.”

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