By Meghashyam Mali - 09/25/11 04:20 PM EDT
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said that he was pleased with the party’s presidential field and confident a strong candidate would emerge from the primary process but didn’t close the door on new entrants to the race.
“We're going to have a rigorous debate in this country on our side of the aisle. We're going to put up an articulate, intelligent alternative to this president,” said Priebus on CBS’s "Face the Nation" on Sunday morning.
Priebus conceded that a new contender in the presidential race would face challenges. “It gets harder and harder as you get closer to Iowa,” he noted.
Priebus’s comments came after a weekend which saw businessman Herman Cain pull off a shocking upset and win the Florida Presidency 5 Straw Poll on Saturday. Cain won more votes than the Republican primary's frontrunners -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney – combined, a result many saw as further proof of the GOP electorate’s discontent with the current candidate field.
Mitt Romney countered with a victory in a straw poll conducted at the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference in Michigan.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who many polls placed at the front of the pack, has seemingly lost momentum after a series of debates where his performances were panned by political watchers.
Perry countered though in a Friday speech where he cautioned that Republicans should not necessarily back "the smoothest debater" for president.
Priebus said the news of yet another GOP straw poll winner was a sign of the strength of the field. “I mean, a lot of different candidates are winning these straw polls. Herman won a couple of days ago. You know, Michele Bachmann won in Iowa. Polling shows Perry and Romney back and forth. Rick Santorum won a straw poll in Pennsylvania. I mean, I know he's from Pennsylvania. But he won that straw poll,” noted Priebus.
“We're having the debate on our side of the aisle. The horsepower, the excitement is on the Republican side of the aisle,” he said.
Priebus was confident the process would end with a strong Republican candidate ready to face President Obama. “People are hungry in this country not necessarily for all Republican answers or all Democratic answers. They're hungry for real authentic people to lead this country. And guess what they have: They have a record to measure this president on,” he said.