The Lure Of Herman Cain
Former Pillsbury Executive Turned Conservative Pundit Moves To The Front Of Republican Presidential Race
Herman Cain. Image by Gage Skidmore and used under terms of Creative Commons license.
By John Monahan
Modern Times Magazine
Oct. 13, 2011 — Herman Cain has shot to the top of the republican presidential polls in the last two weeks and has established his campaign as a serious challenger to front-runner Mitt Romney as the nominating process nears the stretch run.
But, what, exactly, is the lure of Herman Cain?
The easy answer is he is not Rick Perry. The Texas governor shot to the top of the race upon his late entry a few weeks ago but he has stumbled since, thanks to his poor public speaking performances and down home reminders of, “and that’s what we do in Texas,” comments.
Poll numbers tell the tale. The Rasmussen poll Sept. 19 had Rick Perry leading the field at 28 percent, Mitt Romney at 24 percent, Newt Gingrich at 9 percent, Michelle Bachmann at 8 percent, Ron Paul at 6 percent, Rick Santorum at 3 percent and Jon Huntsman at 2 percent. Herman Cain was in the middle of the pack at 7 percent. Almost exactly one month later, the Rasmussen poll Oct. 12 has Romney again leading the field at 29 percent, but Rick Perry has fallen all the way to 9 percent.
The big winner?
The man who rarely broke double digits since officially announcing his candidacy this spring, is now at 29 percent. This race is a dead heat about three months before the primaries begin in late January.
Read the details of the Oct. 12 Rasmussen poll
So why now and why Herman Cain? Well, the field is now set and the republican electorate is now faced with making up its mind because there will be no one else. Cain is engaging and energetic so he is trying on the ‘crown’ and seeing if it fits. None of the others who have tried it so far — Romney, Perry, Bachmann — have made anyone think it is a perfect fit.
Part of the lure of Cain is that the other front-runners have not been able to run away with it.
Romney has flip-flop and religion problems. He is faced with the facts that he has swapped positions on healthcare for everyone — in Massachusetts when he was governor — and that he once supported Roe v. Wade as a choice. The religion issue — which most pundits like to dismiss thanks to their political correctness — is nevertheless a real and effective motivator for many evangelicals. Romney is vulnerable for many of the same reasons he was vulnerable in 2008.
Perry has had problems with public speaking — he stumbles and says the wrong things. He is a lot like George Bush, except he doesn’t have the ‘wink and smile’ to sell it to the masses. That little thing about the cervical cancer vaccine has also hurt him and especially because he was unable to fight through his first snafu. It is a lot harder than that to be president.
But Cain is not just picking up scraps, he is earning them. He can win over a crowd — as he did at the Tea Party National Convention in Phoenix earlier this year in order to win that assembly's poll. And, he has a plan that has initially been a draw to the republican base.
That plan, of course, is the 999 plan. Cain, a former corporate motivator — who famously drove Burger King sales to the sky in Philadelphia with his BEAMER program in the 1980s — has been able to throw some slick marketing on a flat tax. Yes, 999 is a flat tax that has been decried by most economists for decades as a drawn on lower middle class and poor families. Besides, the plan calls for a national sales tax of 9 percent. So, states that now have no sales tax will now have a federal tax introduced on them.
The 999 might just be his undoing once most people find out what it really does and how extreme it really is.
Simply, Cain is the flavor of the week. Unlike Perry and Bachmann, though, he is a legitimate threat. He motivates and can sell his vision which is his most extreme advantage against the rest of the field.
Regardless of his recent surge, though, it is not likely that he will win the nomination and will never rise higher than he is now. Once Gingrich, Bachmann, Santorum, and Huntsman drop out, it is doubtful that Cain will absorb their support. Most likely, those votes will go to Romney.
Why wouldn’t they go to Cain?
Cain is a baptist, former executive and against government. He has no flip-flop moments: he helped defeat national healthcare when Bill and Hillary Clinton tried it in the 1990s. He is a great candidate.
Although no republicans might admit it — unlike their religious discrimination against Romney — many would never — never, never, ever — vote a black person for president.
Those who doubt that should ask themselves, “If Herman Cain was white, would Romney even be a threat?”
John Monahan is a freelance writer living in Connecticut.