SARASOTA — Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain acknowledged his month-long slide in the polls during a stop here on Sunday night, but disputed the idea that he is falling out of contention.
"Well, I've faded from first to third, and that's not exactly fading all the way down to the bottom," Cain told reporters just before speaking to about 350 people at the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium.
Cain said most polls still show he is among the top three candidates and that most of his support is sticking with him through the "disinformation and misinformation" that he says is being spread about him.
"What that says is that people who get on the Cain Train, they don't get off," said Cain, a former pizza chain chief executive and the only one of the top eight presidential contenders never to hold elected office.
Cain vaulted to presidential frontrunner just a month ago behind energetic speeches and an easy to remember 9-9-9 economic plan that called for a 9 percent national sales tax, a 9 percent personal income tax and a 9 percent tax on corporate income.
But Cain has been sliding in the polls recently, thanks to highly publicized allegations of past sexual harassment and difficulty answering foreign policy questions.
With just five weeks until Iowa holds the nation's first caucus elections for president, Cain finds himself a distant third to former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in most polls.
Cain told the Sarasota audience that Florida is largely responsible for his initial climb in the polls. Cain said it was his surprise straw poll victory in Orlando at the Republican Party of Florida's Presidency 5 event in September that shot him from also-ran to contender.
"It was Florida that set my campaign on fire," Cain said during his 15-minute speech at the Sarasota Republican Party's annual statesman dinner.
Florida's presidential primary is scheduled for Jan. 31.
Cain spent most of the rest of his speech focusing on how poorly he believes President Barack Obama has run the nation.
He said Obama has shown a deficiency of leadership and that Obama's "arrogant disregard for the American people" compelled him to run for the White House.