As Cain Gains in Iowa, ‘Our Competition is All of the Other Conservatives’

by Robert Costa

In the latest Des Moines Register poll, Herman Cain leads Mitt Romney, 23 percent to 22 percent.

In response to the latest numbers, Steve Grubbs, Cain’s Iowa strategist, tells National Review Online that by January, “this race will probably come down to one moderate and one conservative.”

But don’t expect Cain to focus on Romney — yet.

In coming months, Cain’s plan to win Iowa, Grubbs says, is to win over conservative voters, especially supporters of Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry. Battling with the former Bay State governor, he says, is not the campaign’s top priority.

“Our competition is all of the other conservatives,” Grubbs says. “They’re keeping Cain from being the full conservative candidate in the polls. Together, Perry and Bachmann have 15 percent. Eventually that support is going to go to the top conservative candidate.”

“Romney is still the frontrunner,” Grubbs cautions. “He has been in Iowa for five years and he has two of the best consultants in the state on his team. He has more money and more organization on the ground. Our goal is to maintain the passion for the cause — building great town halls, lining up precinct captains, putting a team together.”

As Mark Block, Cain’s chief of staff, told NRO last week, the campaign will soon hold a series of “major town-hall meetings” in Iowa. Grubbs says those events will enable conservatives to meet and hear Cain. That personal interaction, he bets, will boost Cain’s numbers.