01/30/2012 08:07 am ET

Florida Primary Candidates Make Tea Party Powerplay After Going M.I.A.

At the moment, the Sunshine State is where all of the action is, and going to be, for the next 48 hours or so. As former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney holds a big lead in the most recent polls, he and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich crisscross the state and carpetbomb the airwaves with super PAC-enabled ads. And former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who gave audiences in Florida two very good debate performances, would undoubtedly be in the mix as well, keeping his D.I.Y. effort running, had it not been for a family emergency that brought him far from the Florida primary to be by his daughter's side.

It's funny to see all the barnstorming in Florida now, considering that it's been one of the early primary states that the candidates have largely taken for granted. Remember the winner of the Presidency 5 straw poll? Come on, you know the one! In the past it's always predicted the presidential nominee? Well, if you can't remember, it's for a good reason -- it was Herman Cain. Observers said this was an early setback for Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who many thought would win. Of course, most of the candidates who are still around right now didn't put in much effort.

Of course, that was back in September. In November, the GOP candidates had an even better opportunity to meet the Florida primary voters when the Tea Party held their 2011 Florida Tea Party Convention in Daytona Beach. Of the 2012ers, only Rick Santorum showed up to be there in person. (So, don't let his current absence count against him too much.) Most of the rest of the candidates phoned it in, literally. And Mitt Romney? Well, he neither showed up nor called in -- but officials at the convention nevertheless managed to find a facsimile of Romney that was so excellent, one doubts that anybody noticed.

It just sort of goes to show that when it comes to being wooed by presidential hopefuls, the candidate only really loves you when he or she needs you. HuffPost's own Sara Kenigsberg, who was at the Tea Party Convention, takes a look back at a time when your 2012ers just didn't care much about Florida.

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