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Moving up primary date was right call, Cannon says

House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, one of the architects of the plan to move up Florida's presidential primary to Jan. 31, said Thursday that the way the campaign has evolved shows the wisdom of that decision. The Republican National Committee has said it will punish Florida, host state (in Tampa) for the GOP convention for trampling on party rules, but Cannon has no regrets as he watches the candidates criss-cross the Sunshine State in a week in which two presidential debates are being held here.

"I think the real winner in this is Florida," Cannon said at a news conference. "No one can argue that that has not concentrated extraordinary focus, emphasis and potentially we may see some decisiveness in terms of the impact of Floridians voters' voices. At least so far it looks like we're in good shape."

Months ago, Cannon endorsed Rick Perry, only to watch the Texas governor's campaign sputter and collapse. He said he's already cast an absentee ballot for Perry, whose name remains on the Florida ballot even though he has dropped out. "So who'd you vote for?" a reporter asked Cannon. "Rick Perry," Cannon replied, as the room erupted into laughter.

Incredulous reporters said: "You did?" With his Perry experience behind him, Cannon has decided to retire from the candidate-endorsement business. "I've decided that the presidential race is something that I'm staying way away from," he said.

-- Steve Bousquet