Herman Cain is the first to admit he wasn’t sure he could pull off a win at Florida’s Presidency 5 straw poll Saturday.
“We expected to do well, but we did not expect necessarily to win it, and we certainly didn’t expect to win it by such a large margin,” he tells National Review Online.
Cain views his surprise win as a pushback against the media’s narrative about the GOP primary.
“The voice of the people is more powerful than the voice of the media. The media has been trying to turn this into a two-person race,” Cain says, noting that coverage prior to the straw poll had been fixated on Rick Perry and Mitt Romney.
“When the media’s not happy with who are the supposed frontrunners,” Cain adds, “they keep trying to recruit somebody else. So now they’re saying ‘Well, it’s wide open, Governor Christie, why don’t you get in the race?’” Cain thinks the media doesn’t represent what Republicans are thinking. “The people in Florida said, ‘the voice of the people is going to make that determination.’”
His resounding success, Cain argues, also shows that message trumps money when it comes to wooing voters. “I rented a bus and went around the state giving my message of common-sense solutions, talking about my 9-9-9 economic plan, and it resonated with people,” he remarks. That’s a very different strategy than the one Perry adopted, which including sending out direct mail to and phoning delegates, and hosting a breakfast for all 3,500 delegates the morning of the straw poll.
Another advantage Cain had going in was his history of visits to the Sunshine State. He spoke at Americans for Prosperity rallies and Tea Party rallies last year, and has campaigned this year in the state. “So this wasn’t my first foray into Florida, and I think a lot of people who had seen me months ago still remember what I was about, and that has not changed,” he says.
The “simplicity” and the “specific” details behind his 9-9-9 plan (which would replace the current tax code with a 9 percent corporate income tax, a 9 percent personal income tax, and a 9 percent sales tax) has widespread appeal, Cain notes.
“People are coming up to me, saying that they like the 9-9-9 plan,” he shares. “Why? They can understand it. One of my guiding principles has been and always will be [that] when people understand it, they will support it and then they will demand that Congress pass it.”
Cain acknowledges that since he started his campaign in January he has twice thought of quitting, as first reported by Yahoo! News. But he won’t consider quitting again any time soon. Asked if there is any factor that could cause him to drop out before the Iowa caucuses, he responds, “Nope, not at this point. Not at all.”
“We’re in it for the long haul,” he emphasized. “This weekend basically solidified that fact.”
For his supporters, that is welcome news.
After Cain delivered his electrifying speech at the straw poll, a crowd of about 150 gathered outside his campaign bus for a chance to see him. It was a blisteringly hot Florida day — one man said it felt like it was “1,800 degrees” — but people waited, once breaking into a “NINE-NINE-NINE” chant. “We love you, Herman!” one supporter shouted. “We’re dying out here, but we love you!”