Posted on | September 25, 2011 | 22 Comments
Marco Rubio and Sarah Rumpf
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. Among the Perry campaign’s top Florida hires, only Anthony Bustamante — who is “awesome,” Sarah said — was a known ally of Rubio.
While many of Crist’s ex-staffers were innocent victims of their boss’s stunning betrayal of the GOP, some of them — including some hired by Team Perry — were suspected as dirty tricksters. 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.
Rumpf was sitting with Plakon and his wife Susie (who has been a Cain fan for months), and Rumpf offered to connect Plakon with Cain’s campaign staff. Rumpf used Twitter to contact Cain spokeswoman Ellen Carmichael in Atlanta, Carmichael gave Rumpf the phone numbers of Cain’s staffers in Orlando, including Nathan Naidu. That evening about 7 p.m., a private meeting was arranged between Cain and the Plakons, and the endorsement was announced at a jam-packed rally of Cain supporters at the Rosen Centre Hotel. Here’s Sarah’s video, recorded just before the endorsement was made public:
The impact of this endorsement should not be underestimated. He may not be well known (yet) outside the state of Florida, but he is extremely well-liked here and very active in conservative political causes around the state. Americans for Prosperity’s Florida Chapter named him their 2011 State Representative of the Year, and has been a leader in opposing ObamaCare, sponsoring the Florida Health Care Freedom Act. Scott Plakon is a solid fiscal and social conservative and has owned and operated several successful businesses; he is the exact type of state leader Republican presidential candidates should want on their team.
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.
As for the meaning of Cain’s victory in the Orlando straw poll, Sarah said, “This was not a protest vote. This was not a temper tantrum.”
When I asked her about one interpretation that Beltway pundits have made of the Orlando results, Sarah was adamant: “Nobody was talking about Chris Christie — nobody.”
Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Bill Kristol.
- Sept. 24: Dear Bill Kristol …
- Sept. 24: Buzzard Bait: Rick Perry’s Immigration Blunder Took Him From Hero to Zero
- Sept. 24: ORLANDO GOP STRAW POLL RESULTS UPDATE: Herman Cain Beats Rick Perry
- Sept. 24: CAIN-MANIA IN ORLANDO? UPDATE: 7 Standing Ovations for Cain; Vultures Circle Perry’s ‘Sunshine Special’?
- Sept. 23: Memo From the National Affairs Desk: Republican Nightmare Campaign Tour
- Sept. 23: RICK PERRY IN FREEFALL?
- Sept. 22: ORLANDO DEBATE: Open Thread UPDATE: ‘You Don’t Have a Heart’
- Sept. 18: Generosity, Gratitude and Gonzo
- Sept. 13: The Prisoner on Flight 1884
- Sept. 12: Fear and Loathing in Tampa
- Sept. 5: Fear and Loathing in Manchester: Palin Offers No Sympathy for the Media Devil
- Sept. 4: Greetings from New Hampshire
- Aug. 18: Fear and Loathing in the Airport Lounge: The Final Wisdom of My Iowa Journey
- Aug. 9: Young Minions of the Sith Lord of Texas
- Aug. 5: Fear and Loathing at the Quality Inn
- Aug. 5: Cain, Corn and … the Phantom Menace
- Aug. 2: ‘That Evil Hour …’