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GOP candidate Cain signs books in Tampa Bay

St. Petersburg, Florida -- The man behind the 9-9-9 plan, GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain is in the Tampa Bay area, signing copies of his new book.

Cain is doing so well now, that many consider him a top tier Republican candidate. But it's been a quick rise to the top. And although a couple of hundred people were on-hand to meet him at a St. Petersburg Banes and Noble store,  the former pizza executive knows he still has work to do to gain broad popularity.

The Republican presidential candidate is now making serious strides in the race for the GOP nomination - bolstered by his surprise victory in Florida's straw poll.

"It's very important," said Cain, "Florida is one of the early primary states."

Cain is also surging in the polls.

A brand new CBS News poll has him tied with Mitt Romney at 17 percent.

See Also: Cain's controversial remarks on Occupy Wall Street protests

Meanwhile, Texas Governor Rick Perry is falling fast, down 11 percent in just two weeks.

But outside Republican political circles, has Cain become a recognizable figure with John Q. Public?

When we showed pictures of Herman Cain to folks outside the very same bookstore where he was signing autographs, some recognized him, but others had a tough time placing his face.

"Probably some congressman, I don't know," said one man.

But there were several who also recognized Cain right away, which may not have been the case as recently as a month ago. Cain's recognition factor may not seem too bad, considering he's a relative newcomer to the national political stage.

But the presidential candidate and former CEO of Godfathers Pizza only did about as well as this another pizza exec whose picture we flashed, not running for office: John Schnatter A.K.A "Papa John".

Also, to be perfectly fair, neither man was as universally recognized as the third pizza picture we shared, the Little Caesar's guy.

Still, only one of these pizza players has pie-in-the-sky aspirations of delivering a victory November 2012.

And for that to happen, Herman Cain knows he needs more than just a slice of the popular vote. And 9-9-9 has to be more than a take-out price special.

Florida is too important for obscurity, he says, "Because the voters here are very involved."

There was a time Herman Cain was being considered more as a possible running mate, depending upon how the race shaped up. Now, he's right there at the top.

No small coincidence Cain was also in the Villages section of Florida today, south of Ocala.

His visit there, and the Tampa Bay Area, indicating the importance the I-4 corridor will likely play in January's primary.  


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