Why Herman Cain may be Able even without money

Herman Cain was right when he said Black Walnut is “not the flavor of the week.” In fact everytime Republican primary voters get a taste they come back for more. For the political junkie who is used to watching the Republican party consistantly nominate the establishment candidate there are some very interesting dynamics going on here.

Almost from the get-go Herman Cain was written off as non-contender for the Republican nomination. He was seen as a bit of a novelty and his unthreatening nature to the traditional nomination process earned him kudos from the field for his private-sector experience and his audacity to present an actual plan. The conventional wisdom is that Herman Cain has no money, therefore, has no real chance to compete through the primary season, and I disagree. Having served as a county-wide elections administrator and executive director of a county party I understand the importance of campaign infrastructure. But, in a year of disdain for bailed out banks, corporate and lobby influence on our political system and incumbant politicians it should be no surprise that voters are not looking for the guy who can buy the nomination. Pundits seem oblivious to this possibility, consistently referring to his lack of funds and campaign staff. Even as Cain surges the conventional wisdom continues to be Romney is the man to beat and Perry is his greatest challenge.  The money contest may come down to these two, but Romney’s numbers have been stagnent in the low 20s and Rick Perry has actually lost support in each successive poll.

In an earlier post I suggested that Cain reverse his harsh rhetoric of the Occupy Wall Street movement and adopt a more broad populist approach.  My thoughts were that both OWS and Herman Cain represent the “little guy” or the outsider trying to make an impact against the backdrop of the establishment. At the same time the Tea Party, of which a plurality supports Cain, is trying its darnedest to distance itself from OWS even on the most basic of princliples.  Even still, I find it difficult to believe that the Tea Party supports such statements as, “If you are not rich don’t blame Wall Street, blame yourself”.

At this point when only 3 candidates managing to garner double digit support the field is technically crowded, especially on stage during debates. Even while pundits watch Newt pick up steam from way behind with little money, they all seem to be anticipating the moment when polled voters share their sentiments on Herman Cain. I for one, judging by Cain’s bold naivety of his place in this race do not expect him to pull out until he has actually lost. Its hard to believe this will be an election about cash on hand when an “unpopular president” is expected to raise close to a billion dollars this cycle. If Cain is in fact serious he should be more concerned about how he matches up against Obama and what he must do to increase his mass appeal to general election voters. I have stated before his ability to be dismissive of criticism and stand with his ideas brings a certain charm but the longer this process wears the more groups of supporters will be in the cross hairs of his defense mechanism and his unwillingness to compromise, apologize or meter his tone will likely be the downfall of his candidacy.  There is a fine line between not appearing as a wobbly-kneed politician, which helps him, and seeming unpresidential. Republican primary voters may disagree but I can’t help but think the following ad crosses that line.

And, speaking of lines, isn’t “I am America” Stephen Colbert’s?

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Rush Limbaugh said it first.

I could not help but comment on the above headline. It was displayed prominently by Drudge post-debate. What’s interesting is earlier in the day on his radio program Rush Limbaugh  said, “So their objective at CNN is going to be to make every one of these people look like an absolute wacko nutcase fruitcake.”

So Anderson Cooper will be blamed for the “catty” behavior between the candidates. Romney and Santorum got into a shouting match early in the debate and Romney again with Perry on immigration that actually led to him putting his hand on Perry’s shoulder.

Recap of the debate performance:

Mitt Romney –This is still Romney’s to lose and he will probably not see much of a bump from this debate. Republican primary voters know Mitt Romney and right they are “still in the market”. It will be interesting to see what happens when the field starts to thin out. Only then will be know how weak he really is. From the left-leaning room I watch the debate in, it didn’t seem like the wanted Romney to make it to the general election.

Rick Perry – Oh Brother First. he needs to stop referring to Herman Cain as “Brother” which he did twice during the debate. He also attempted to make Romney his target but Mitt was prepared and shot back every time with specific policy results of Perry as Governor. The debate was tough on Perry he needs to go after Obama directly so he can draw that “bright contrast” he mentioned. He must also expand his plan for jobs beyond the energy and oil industry. Even if this is ok in  a Republican primary it doesn’t help his perception as an oil and gas man from Texas.

Herman Cain-Apples and Oranges He is a branding machine, everything that comes out of his mouth sounds like a slogan and so “matter of fact”. Its great to keep it simple but if he wants to be taken seriously Cain needs to be more receptive to criticism. Everyone he disagrees with is not “wrong”. It may work as a CEO but being President will require working well with others.

Newt Gingrich – “Adult in the room”- At least thats what I think his message is. He is trying to play the role of the uniter. I haven’t heard him attack anyone else on stage and that makes me believe he may ne vying for the VP slot.

Michele Bachmann – She has failed to define her role in these debates. She gets a good oneliner per show but its not what she needs to turn her campaign around. She hasn’t raised the money she needs to remain competitive but she may still be banking on Iowa even while her numbers have slipped there since she won the Ames straw poll.

Ron Paul- Same as he ever was Ron Paul is without a doubt the most consistant candidate and regularly draws the most applause. He gets the most donations from service men and woman but dropped a bomb when he said our aid to Israel hurts them and makes them “dependent”.

Rick Santorum-  In the Bachmann camp, he is basically irrelevant at this point. The field is split too many ways for him to get the support he needs unless there were fewer candidates but I don’t think his funds will last that long.

I look forward to the next debate and hope it includes less familiar faces.

GOP candidates on Occupy Wall Street

The GOP field on Occupy Wall Street:

Mitt Romney -“I think it’s dangerous, this class warfare,”

Rick Perry – 1.) “We understand the frustration with the Obama economy, but the protests don’t make sense or help create jobs.”

2.) “You know Liberals are now pointing the finger of blame at successful employers under the guise of fairness, but when they utter phrases like “fair share” you just know, heh, they’re once again playing fast and furious with the truth. And the truth is you can’t reve up the engine of economic growth by heaping higher taxes on job creators, you can’t spread success by punishing it, you can’t unite our country by dividing it.”

Herman Cain– “Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks, if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself. It is not someone’s fault if they succeeded, it is someone’s fault if they failed.”

Newt Gingrich– “I think the people who are protesting in Wall Street break into two groups: one is left-wing agitators who would be happy to show up next week on any other topic, and the other is sincere middle-class people who frankly are very close to the Tea Party people who care. And actually…you can tell which are which. The people who are decent, responsible citizens pick up after themselves. The people who are just out there as activists trash the place and walk off and are proud of having trashed it, so let’s draw that distinction.”

Ron Paul- “I think that civil disobedience, if everybody knows exactly what they are doing, is a legitimate effort. It’s been done in this country for many grievances. Some people end up going to jail for this. But to speak for a special group and say, ‘Yeah, I like what they are doing or they are not doing,’ but what I want to do is try to sort it out and tell people why they are struggling and that this was a predictable event.”

Michele Bachmann- “I don’t think that they’re similar to the Tea Party at all,” Bachmann said. “I ran across two of the protests in Washington, DC and one in Boston and they are nothing in common at all with” Tea Party agitators.

She added, “I think that if the Occupy Wall Street wants to be upset about something they should go in front of the White House.”

Jon Huntsman- Now, you can’t gather on street corners in China. You can’t create organized demonstrations in China. You can in this country, and may it always be that way,” said Huntsman. “And I have to say that some of what they’re talking about, a lot of Americans, I think, are sympathetic with. Trillions and trillions of dollars spent, with nothing to show for it in terms of any uplift in our economy.”

Rick Santorum- “I certainly understand the frustration,” he told reporters after his speech at the Values Voter Summit on Friday. “I think the answers they have with respect to solve that problem, I would go in a different direction.”

Donald Trump– “I was in New York recently where you had—I wouldn’t call it a riot, but it got—you had thousands of people marching down Wall Street,” Trump said. “This is a group of in many cases very well-dressed, and I look at it and I say something has got to be done to break it up.”

Mitt Romney and the 7 Dwarves?

I Watched the GOP primary debate in awe that the Republican Party has yet to find atruly competitive conservative candidate to challenge Mitt Romney.  It was like watching an episode of surviver for most of the candidates as they desperately tried to play up their support and stand out from an overly crowded field. The debates may have too many bodys but they don’t have too many ideas. There is still room for a genuine challenger and as the over all weakness shows there is also still time.

This is why Herman Cain is still gaining buzz, he is the only candidate to actually release a tax plan and after this debate everyone will know its called “9-9-9”.  His strength is his ability to market his own brand but his weakness comes in an abrasiveness in defense of himself. This gives him a charm but one that will wear thin as a front runner. He still has time to define himself and realize he will need some diplomatic skills if he plans pass legislation.

The other presidential hopefuls began to aim their attacks at Cain’s plan to implement a sales tax, repeatedly referring to it as a new “pipeline of revenue” for the federal government. This lead into the absolute low moment of the night when Michele Bachmann continued:

…and theres one thing I would say is when you turn the 999 plan upside down the devil is in the details.

Michele Bachmann was always a long shot and her numbers have been falling fast even in Iowa where she recently won the Ames straw poll.  She needed something big and she made a joke out of her best opportunity. Its my guess she will hang in until she stops receiving invitations or if she loses the Iowa caucus February 6th.

Rick Perry was the major disappointment of the night. He struggled for relevancy the entire debate. When both the moderator and your opponents stop asking you tough questions you know you are in trouble. His most memorable exchange came when he attacked “Romneycare” and Romney responded with, “We have the lowest number of kids uninsured of any state in America…You have the highest.” He seemed somewhat blind-sided by this retort. It was stark contrast from the Rick Perry we are used to seeing in Texas annihilate his Democratic opponents. He tried to stay on message about jobs but he needs to look at how diverse the rest of the country’s economy is and realize that energy is not the solution everywhere. I would not be surprised if Rick Perry bowed out of future debates and campaigned hard in Iowa. The latest polls show him slipping behind but with time and money all things are possible.

for good measure, the stat I posted before the debate and Romney mentioned:

Perry v. Romney: The State of Abortion

The Values Voters Summit was held this weekend in the city politicians love to hate, Washington, D.C.. The winner was a famous conservative politician from Texas with the initials RP who also happens to- not be Rick Perry. So the narrative remains, a weak front runner in Mitt Romney vs. the “conservative alternative”.  Rick Perry seemed to be that guy but after a couple of early blunders he failed to solidify the GOP primary as a two-man race. So how do these 2 Governors’ states match up on a crucial “Values Voters” issue of abortion?

One of Governor Perry’s most famous verbal faux pas came in a debate when he tried to label Mitt Romney a flip flopper on abortion.

We know Romney’s position has changed depending on what office he sought. We also know it is unlikely that Romney would have been elected Governor in 2002 at all if he had not pledged to “preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose.” This prompted me to look into abortion and health statistics of both states to catch a glimpse of what “pro-life” means under these governors. The pro-life movement may find clues about electability vs. a pro-choice incumbent. To see Texas‘ and Massachusetts‘ current policies towards abortion follow each link. Here I will just show some basic comparisons of outcomes. All of my data came from the Guttmacher Inistitute.

First the abortion trends in each state compared to the national average:

Abortion rate per 1,000 women

The national average, as well both states, has actually been in decline since the the first few years after Roe V. Wade.  Perry said in his address to the Values Voters Summit that, “There is no voter in America who is not a value voter, its just a question of who’s values they share.” Over the years Rick Perry has been a bellweather of conservative rhetoric and he may have hit on something here at least where Texas is concerned. This next chart could help explain Perry’s past success in Texas or even why Democrats struggle to be relevant in statewide elections. But the question remains how this can help him win the same voters in a national election.

Abortion rate per 1,000 women

Its interesting to note that white women in Texas have abortions at the national rate while minorities in Texas have them at half the national rate. This could suggest at least one of 2 things, that minorities are more conservative in Texas or they lack access to the procedure. A 3rd possibility exists that Texas’ stressing of abstinence education actual led to less abortions. This can be ruled out because Texas has the highest rate of teen pregnancy. In Texas teens may be having less abortions but they are not abstaining.

Teen pregnancy rate per 1,000 women Sources: 1.Guttmacher Institute, U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions: National and State Trends and Trends by Race and Ethnicity, 2010.

The most damning stat for Governor Romney’s claim to “pro-life” is the sheer amount of state funded abortions. This also presents a possible explanation of why minorities in Texas have abortions at half the rate of the nation.

The lack of public funds for abortion coupled with higher rates of teen pregnancy may also be a contributing factor to Texas having one of highest rates of uninsured children in the nation, while Massachusetts is among the lowest.

% of uninsured low income children by State

Even still Perry released this ad today attacking Mitt Romney over “Romneycare”.

Both will get another chance in front of voters Tuesday when the GOP candidates debate in New Hampshire. As for the Value Voters Summit their ballot has been cast.

Trend from Gallup of American views on abortion:

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