Herman Cain: Teflon Pizza Don or Mr. Magoo of GOP

I have been wanting to move past “politics of the day” to discuss what I think are more relevant issues in the bigger picture but I continue to be fascinated by Herman Cain and what his story means to the 2012 race.

The more media declares his candidacy over the better he does with the Republican base. Fox News and other establishment conservatives have come to his defense in light of sexual harassment allegations and joined his refrain of a “high-tech” lynching. They are comparing his case to Clarence Thomas and contrasting him with Bill Clinton but there is no evidence yet that this was leaked by Democratic opposition  research.

I would think the media would be tired of ‘misunderestimating’ Herman Cain and give him a little credit even his fortunes seemed to be guided by some strange Mr. Magoo-like quality. The same day headlines were supposed to derail his campaign he posted the best fundraising day so far. In addition Gallup published this poll that shows Cain as the only candidate to increase his favorability rating. Will the media learn its lesson or can Cain continue to defy the odds?

There have been major developments this week since I published this. Rick Perry has been accused by the Cain campaign of leaking sexual harassment allegations against Herman Cain.

And this video masterpiece..well maybe not masterpiece but I made it before Cain actually accused Perry:

 

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Is Herman Cain’s loss Rick Perry’s gain?

UPDATE 11/3/2011 4pm:

A new Rasmussen poll taken after the leak of sexual allegations shows Herman Cain actually taking the lead over Romney. Rick Perry doubles his numbers to 8% while Bachmann, Huntsman and Santorum bottom out. It appears Perry drew his support from the later candidates and Cain seems to be holding his own. Its also not clear if voters believe Rick Perry had any part in the leak as the Cain campaign contends.

Troubling headlines of sexual harassment allegations about Herman Cain beg the question -What happens if the Cain bubble does burst?

If Romney continues to waffle around 25% whoever is the beneficiary of a thinning field will have a real chance to tip the scale as we get closer to the early primaries. Could this be Perry’s window to reemerge? Time has yet to tell what effect Perry’s flat tax proposal will have on the race but it has received praise and ridicule from the usual suspects as this is not a new idea. Just recently it was given the thumbs up by Grover Norquist, a conservative thought leader with Club for Growth who pledges to hold inadequately conservative politicians accountable. In an election year that seems to be anything but typical and has bread strong anti-establishment sentiment, it is difficult to know what “leaders” will truly be the bellwether for 2012.

Taken from TexasTribune.org

On the same day of reckoning for Cain the Texas Tribune published a poll that shows Herman Cain edging out Governor Rick Perry in the Texas primary. Jim Henson, UT professor and co-director of the poll, stated in the article that Cain’s most significant lead was among “conservative voters”. Interestingly though while Perry led Cain in most urban areas, Cain lead Perry in Austin where voters know him well. This does not bode well (at least in Texas) for the theory that Perry would be the obvious beneficiary of a Cain collapse. Nationally though, this could be where money’s role becomes more important. If Bachmann and the like heed growing calls to exit the race this opens the door for Perry or another (Newt?) to gain a fresh head of steam. Even with his mass of cash reserves Perry will have to make stronger and more convincing public appearances. His resent consideration of nixing future debates, which may have worked from the outset, probably comes far too late after a series of disappointing outings.

Also, headlining on Gawker is not the way you want your campaign to go viral. Governor Perry delivered a “passionate” speech over the weekend also included a complete dismissal of Herman Cain as a real candidate. “I love Herman, is he the best? I have fun with him, he is a great and interesting guy. And, thank you Herman for helping to pay for the event tonight.” If this Rick Perry had come out first and he avoided the debates altogether who knows if this would be a different race. But, perhaps at this point he should bother to take Cain a little more seriously. The media can make this mistake, but Rick Perry can’t afford too.

There have been major developments this week since I published this. Rick Perry has been accused by the Cain campaign of leaking sexual harassment allegations against Herman Cain.

And this video masterpiece..well maybe not masterpiece but it was made before Cain actually accused Perry:

Interesting note: Ron Paul doesn’t completely rule out the possibility of a 3rd party run even before the first primary ballot has been cast. Could he be setting the right up to get Nadered?

Herman Cain Denies Sexual Harassment but can he Dodge the Character Assassination attempt?

Herman Cain has had a long week of plateauing and catching strange looks for his recent campaign ads, but the latest news of possible sexual harassment hush money will be a true test of his campaign’s Teflon coating. I wondered how long it would take for the media, who have been infatuated with the “unexplained” rise of Herman Cain, to finally go after him personally. Some on the left have tried to marginalize him recently by painting him as some kind of Uncle Tom that the Republican Party can get behind, but that would tend to help him in the primary.

Politico reports of the pizza don:

During Herman Cain’s tenure as the head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, at least two female employees complained to colleagues and senior association officials about inappropriate behavior by Cain, ultimately leaving their jobs at the trade group, multiple sources confirm to POLITICO.

These are serious allegations and even if untrue must be immediately addressed properly by his campaign. Originally, the campaigned tried to discredit the accusations but when further pressed they released this statement to the AP fully denying the reports.  Spokesperson JD Gordon tried his best to characterize the story as a just an attack on a successful candidate and even at one point said, “this is just an example of ‘inside the beltway’ media attacks”.  Well, that may be so but even for something that supposedly took place over a decade ago this has campaign ending consequences. So far everything the media has thrown at Herman Cain has had a near oposite effect. Only time will tell if this shakes down like Clarence Thomas or blows up like John Edwards but either way this certainly brings new meaning to an earlier accusation of his “fly by the seat of his pants” campaign.

 

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1011/67194.html#ixzz1cLBB8xd0

 

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?

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.”

What Herman Cain and Occupy Wall Street have in common

There is an irony in the media trying to marginalize both Herman Cain and the Occupy Wall Street movement. They are both “the little guy” in their respective scenarios being picked on by the establishment.  Cain may not be their most obvious champion but he would be smart to be more sympathetic tho their grievance.  Saying things like, “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!”, could actually ‘Tea’-off some working-class stiffs on the right. Another consideration is the latest poll from Time on public support for the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Even Fox News own (unscientific) online poll 70% responded,”Yes, These folks are right about corporate greed and what’s happening to the little guy.”

With little exception all sides agree there is a questionable amount of influence by lobby and corporate money in our political system, yet Herman Cain’s surge in the polls is not being taken seriously because he lacks the funds to match Romney or Perry.

Money is not always the best indicator of campaign success, just ask Rick Perry. He poll numbers fell even as he out-raised his opponents and thats not even his best example. In the 2002 Gubernatorial race his Democratic challenger Tony Sanchez spent over $70 million of his own money just to lose by over 20 points on election day.

http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/.element/apps/cvp/3.0/swf/cnn_416x234_embed.swf?context=embed&videoId=politics/2011/10/13/jk-the-truth-cain.cnn

Herman Cain: Cracking the Black Walnut

The takeaway:  Voters are expressing what they want in a candidate more than their actual support for Herman Cain or his 9-9-9 plan.

Talk to a political hack and he is likely to tell you Herman Cain is not a ‘serious’ candidate. Poll Republican primary voters and you get a different answer. Pundits and even the other candidates have overlooked and possibly “mis-underestimated” Herman Cain. His own campaign manager admitted he had a very small window to win the nomination. So how does any of this make since? I have a theory, and if it turns out correct it’ll be dubbed “The Cain Effect”.

Republican primary voters have gotten to know Mitt Romney since he first announced his candidacy back in February of 2007. He’s the guy the parents like because he has all the qualifications but the lady just isn’t in love. He is in a since the back up plan, and just can’t quite get voters to “put a ring on it”. This is where flirts with Christie and flings with Perry, Bachmann, and now Cain come in.

How Herman Cain is Different and Why He is Surging and What could Stop Him

He is not a politician. Herman Cain, unlike the aforementioned has never held public office. Rick Perry’s bonafides come from his tenure as Texas’ longest serving Governor and all other “major” candidates are also current or past office holders.

The “not a real candidate” factor. If Republican primary voters are going to dump Mitt Romney it will be for “the one”. A ‘1st tier’ candidate that will at least narrow the field to two.  After Rick Perry failed to meet that expectation voters chose the only real outsider. Its also impossible to over estimate the benefit Cain receives from being attacked by the mainstream media. This is key to his surging. Voters are expressing what they want in a candidate more than their actual support for Herman Cain or his 9-9-9 plan.  Halley Barbour used this anecdote:

One of my sons, I have grown children, you know, from the first day said ‘Dad, do you know Herman Cain?’ I said sure, I’ve known him since I was Chairman. He said ‘Man, I like him, I like what he says,’ and that is one of his great strengths Laura…He’s a straight talker and I think that makes him very, very attractive to people.

Yes, Ron Paul muttered, “Spoken like a true insider” referring to Cain’s time as Federal Reserve Chairman in Kansas City but for his best efforts Ron Paul still carries far too much political baggage himself. Whether its Godfather’s Pizza or the 9-9-9 plan Herman Cain is about building a brand. In his 2000 presidential bid Cain said,

George W. Bush was the chosen one. He had the campaign DNA that followers look for…I believe that I had a better message and I believe that I was the better messenger.

Precisely. People bought Barack Obama in 2008, not the Democratic Party and right now people are buying “Black Walnut” not and not necessarily Herman Cain.

Straight talk. People like a straight talking guy. Thats why they liked Reagan, George W. Bush, and why they were supposed to like Rick Perry but Herman Cain takes his straight to the edge. It can be amusing like when he told Ron Paul, “You’ve gotta be careful of the stuff you get off the Internet.” or questionable when in the same debate he said, “The problem with your analysis is that it is incorrect,” referring to Bloomberg’s assessment of his 9-9-9 tax plan. 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 he will be in the cross hairs of his defense mechanism. Now that he is beginning to be taken seriously he should be prepared to answer tough questions about his past statements. There will be many since he has had his own radio program, syndicated column and written multiple books and with phrases like, “I don’t have the facts to back this up” he better be more careful in what he says, less someone take him serious.

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:

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