Tags: Herman Cain

Mark Block: We Never Expected Our Viral Video to Go Viral


Herman Cain’s chief of staff, Mark Block, is currently being interviewed on MSNBC. Block says that Cain never sexually harassed anyone. He said he knew nothing about any alleged cash settlements with National Restaurant Association employees complaining about Cain’s behavior.

If the settlements included the standard non-disclosure agreements, parties may hide behind them as a reason to refuse to answer further questions. (Of course, with the alleged incidents in the headlines, they would seem rather moot.) But this is something fairly verifiable. Either the NRA made the payments or they didn’t, and a look at their books during the years in question would clarify whether there was an issue that the organization considered worth allocating money to resolve without further legal incident.

And if there were no payments, the National Restaurant Association wouldn’t be running afoul of any nondisclosure agreements by saying, “There were no payments.” The NRA statement to Politico was:

Please understand that our corporate policy is not to discuss personnel matters (other than to confirm employment and dates of employment) with outside sources, including media. Thus, I must respectfully decline to comment on your questions or any allegations you may be looking into that concern current or former employees of the Association.

In non-harassment-allegation news, Block says Cain is averaging $1.25 million per week in the past month, so he’s taken in roughly $5 million in October.

Chuck Todd asked a couple of questions about his smoking in the Cain web video, and at one point Block said, “We never expected this to go viral the way it did.” While modesty is an undervalued trait in American politics, isn’t that precisely the point of a web video?

UPDATE: The position of the Cain campaign appears to be that they are 100 percent certain that any allegations of sexual harassment from the 1990s are untrue, but that they have no knowledge whatsoever of whether there were legal settlements reached. Claiming absolute certainty and knowledge in one aspect of a matter and absolute ignorance in another aspect is… not reassuring.

Tags: Herman Cain , Mark Block , Politico

Is Cain Reaching Critical Mass? Or Critical Condition?


In the first Morning Jolt of the week, a lengthy examination of whether Herman Cain is reaching critical mass or critical condition, some of which you’ll find below:

Is the Hurri-Cain Breaking Apart? Or Just Gathering Up Steam?

I think this story is less than reassuring if you are pulling for a Herman Cain nomination in 2012:

Cain, however, said he plans to “dial back” his campaign and media appearances in order to avoid missteps. Since climbing in the polls, he has had a series of fumbles, forcing him to clarify comments on abortion, immigration and terrorism suspects.

Cain has chalked up the mistakes to a grueling campaign schedule jammed with media interviews. Such itineraries are standard fare on the presidential campaign trail and it is unclear how aggressively he will restrict his schedule.

A former pizza magnate who has never held elected office, Cain is adapting from a longshot candidate hustling for any media attention to a front-runner who must be more selective with his time and disciplined in his message.

“When you’re too tired you’re not on your ‘A game,’” the 65-year-old Georgia businessman told a throng of reporters who greeted the arrival of his bus on the Samford campus.

He said it was a mistake to schedule interviews immediately following debates. Cain maintained he did not flip-flop on issues, but simply did not hear questions properly.

Er . . . suppose Cain wins the GOP nomination. Just how much easier does he think a general election schedule is?

The current primary process is maddening because candidates give such extraordinary attention to early primary states, and those states expect and demand to be given extraordinary attention from candidates. A candidate can devote enormous amounts of time and money to a key primary state and hope that a win or strong showing there will somehow “catapult” them to more success in subsequent primaries. But it’s completely unrepresentative of the general election process. The 2012 Republican nominee is going to have to fight on an extraordinarily broad battlefield. The nominee might be able to maximize a bus tour by going through Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Wisconsin — and maybe Michigan or Iowa. But you can’t ignore the western swing states, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado. The Obama camp is certain that they still have a shot in Virginia and North Carolina. Then there’s the two geographic outliers, New Hampshire and Florida. You can’t work every room in every swing state (bad news for Rick Perry) and you can’t take a “dialed back” approach, as Cain appears to be embracing here.

Of course, perhaps it is easier successfully pull off the “dialed back” approach when you’re the frontrunner.

Tags: Herman Cain

NARAL: Don’t Worry, Herman Cain, We Still Hate You


In a very strange way, the national pro-choice group NARAL has done Herman Cain a favor. Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, issued a press release denouncing him, saying in an open letter:

Let’s start with the things we agree on: you are 100 percent opposed to a woman’s right to choose abortion care–even in cases of rape or incest–and have made that position clear on numerous occasionsEnd of story.

So, if any of Cain’s rivals attempt to argue in some future debate that his pro-life bona fides is shaky, he can point out that he’s not only pro-life, but that he’s been denounced by name by NARAL for his opposition to abortion.

Having said that . . . “abortion care”? That’s a real phrase now?

Did Kervorkian offer “death care”?

Tags: Herman Cain , NARAL

The Post Examines Herman Cain’s ‘Outdated Pizza Pie Concept’


In the Washington Post’s Style section, food writer Tim Carman reveals that everything he needed to know about Herman Cain he learned at Godfather’s Pizza.

Godfather’s Pizza is clearly comfortable in these rural confines, cheek by jowl with gas pumps and 12-packs of Coors, where Americans (and their tight budgets) couldn’t care less about the latest trends in modern pizza-making, with its precious emphasis on finely ground “00” flour, San Marzano tomatoes and wood-burning ovens.

Years after Wolfgang Puck unleashed gourmet pizzas on Los Angeles and was plotting his own world domination, Herman Cain was fighting to keep an outdated pie concept alive. His savvy may prove he’s a good businessman, but his inability to look beyond the standard-issue chain-pizza trend proves something — a lack of imagination, at the very least. And now the pizza-chain market is dying, losing ground to burgers and chicken on the list of the nation’s top “quick-service” brands.

Yes, you can learn a lot about Cain by looking today at franchises of a company that he ran from 1986 to 1996. For perspective, the last time Cain was calling the shots at Godfather’s Pizza, Barack Obama had not yet been sworn into any elected office yet.

Tags: Herman Cain

Seven Candidates Enter, No Candidates Leave . . . Unscathed


The Wednesday Morning Jolt is entirely focused on last night’s debate:

The CNN Demolition Derby Debate!

Patrick S.: “’Kung Fu Fighting’ . . . Is that a good song for the debate?”

Justin Hart: “That was a fevered pitch debate . . . I almost expected a WWF cage to drop around the candidates.”

I understand this is the last debate for a month or so. Perhaps every candidate brought their toughest, most relentless fighting stances Tuesday night, knowing that this might be their last opportunity to take out one of their rivals. I’m flattered when a few readers suggested that many of the contenders seemed to be taking my advice: if you want to be the preeminent rival to Romney, stop hitting the other aspiring preeminent rivals to Romney and hit Romney.

And boy did they ever. And then they went back to the old habit, but not before drawing blood on Romneycare and the individual mandate.

If you thought anybody in this field had been getting a free ride or deserved to be pressed hard on details, you enjoyed at least some part of Tuesday’s night. Romney got a good fifteen minutes on Obamacare, with Santorum kicking it off by declaring that Romney just didn’t have the credibility to pledge to repeal Obama’s health care law. Somebody compared Santorum to a hockey enforcer, and it seemed to fit. If you thought Herman Cain was gliding by on a sunny personality and a glib, easily-remembered tax slogan, the night began with the “9-9-9 Plan” enduring the death of a thousand cuts, as most of the field saw serious problems with enacting a national sales tax. Santorum was forced into giving an implausible boast that he could beat Obama in Pennsylvania, and ENDED UP YELLING AND YELLING AND YELLING AT ROMNEY AND THEN TELLING ROMNEY HIS TIME WAS UP. It looked like Santorum had been training in practice rounds with the McLaughlin Group.

As John King said on CNN, “You can ask Michele Bachmann what color is the sky and she’ll answer about moms and women.”

Professor Gingrich played his role well; it is just a shame that he never really seems to want to play the role of candidate. Jon Huntsman sat out under the bizarre notion that somehow voters in New Hampshire would thank him for protesting Nevada’s role in the primary schedule by voting for him. His absence was rarely noticed.

Still, a lot of folks watching said that there were no winners last night, only those who lost less. I half-jokingly suggested clearing the stage, clearing the field, and bringing in every big name who rejected running earlier this year: Mitch Daniels, Mike Pence, Sarah Palin, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, Bob McDonnell, Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee . . .

Think about how Obama for America, the DNC, and the mainstream media would react upon learning that all of their opposition research on Romney, Perry, Bachmann, and the rest had been wasted. (The mainstream media hasn’t bothered to do opposition research on Herman Cain yet, because they don’t take him seriously yet.)

Tags: Herman Cain , Mitt Romney , Rick Perry

If You Want to Beat Mitt Romney, Try Beating Mitt Romney


A reader writes in, furiously asserting that “the talentless hacks at National Review” are responsible for Mitt Romney’s hard-to-dislodge frontrunner or near-frontrunner status.

As much as I’d like to believe that the magazine and website alone can determine the Republican nominee, I’d note that the magazine featured a rather positive profile of Tim Pawlenty in the March 7 issue, just five months before he withdrew from the race. Sometimes the cover features Marco Rubio and declares, “Yes, He Can.” Sometimes the cover features Howard Dean and begs, “Democrats: Please Nominate This Man.” (Ted Cruz must be hoping we’re due for another Rubio moment.)

My angry reader asserts that “if the cocktail party crowd in NY and DC weren’t enamored of his important hair and pants crease, he wouldn’t be leading right now.” Except that the cocktail-party crowd in New York and Washington don’t make up 20-something percent of Republican voters. And that’s the level of support that Romney has enjoyed with remarkable consistency.

One possibility is that it seems every non-Mitt candidate has decided that they need to eliminate the other non-Romney options first before going after Romney, which may be a strategic error.

Tim Pawlenty hesitated on “Obamneycare” but certainly didn’t hesitate to go after Michele Bachmann in subsequent debates. Bachmann has torn into Rick Perry on immigration and the Gardasil decision. Rick Santorum has gone after almost everyone, but seems to have delivered his toughest attacks on Perry and most recently on Cain (asking the audience how many felt the national sales tax would remain 9 percent for long).

Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich appears to see his Republican rivals as distractions from his true hated target — whoever is moderating that night — and cheery Herman Cain rarely attacks any of his rivals — probably a big element of his appeal.

Jon Huntsman certainly is trying to hit Romney, but its hard for the most leftward candidate in the race to score points in this area, and Huntsman is in low single digits in most states. Perry certainly tried to go after Romney, but got tongue-tied two debates ago and is now focused on the surging Cain, pointing out what he sees as the flaws in the 9-9-9 Plan.

Perhaps it’s time for a revised strategy. If you want to be the leading anti-Romney candidate, go after Romney. If you become the most thorough and effective critic of Romney’s record and stances, you won’t have to worry about all of the other ones.

Another possibility is that some folks in the field find Romney’s odds of becoming the nominee so favorable that they don’t want to alienate him, and want to preserve their viability as a running mate or future cabinet secretary, etc.

Tags: Herman Cain , Michele Bachmann , Mitt Romney , Rick Perry

Shouldn’t Any 2012 GOP Nominee ‘Sweep the South’?


Mississippi governor Haley Barbour predicts that if nominated, Herman Cain will “sweep the South.”

Is that really something a potential GOP nominee should be bragging about? Isn’t the South the most heavily Republican region of the country? With one or two exceptions, isn’t sweeping the South almost expected of any Republican nominee?

In 2008, Obama defied the trend a bit by winning one indisputably Southern state (North Carolina) and winning two states that are quasi-Southern (Virginia, Florida). Southern Florida is different in its culture and political traditions than most of the rest of the states considered classically “Southern,” and Northern Virginia is better seen as part of the mid-Atlantic, culturally and politically. (Although the 2009 and even 2010 results suggest it’s becoming redder . . .)

The most recent polls in North Carolina put Obama’s job approval at 44 percent or 36 percent. Sure, PPP has Obama narrowly ahead of Republican options in the Tar Heel State, but that probably reflects a certain unfamiliarity or hesitation about the GOP options. (Notice Obama, a completely known quantity, is topping out at 49 percent even against Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich.) If the current conditions continue — an extremely high number of voters thinking the country is on the wrong track, disapproving of Obama’s handling of the economy, little sense that dramatic improvement is around the corner — then North Carolinians will not check the box for “four more years of the same.” Oh, by the way, the current unemployment rate in North Carolina is 10.4 percent.

In Florida, Obama’s job approval is 46 percent (PPP) or 39 percent (Quinnipiac). In PPP’s poll, Obama is currently trailing Ron Paul.

And then there’s Virginia, where Quinnipiac puts Obama’s job approval at 40 percent (56 percent disapproval!).

Sure, Obama could win any of these states, but considering the current state of affairs, it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to see all three shift back to red, perhaps by a wide margin. (Spare me the argument that evangelical concerns about Mormonism would be enough to get southern Republicans to stay home on Election Day when Barack Obama’s on the ticket.) Sweeping the South should not be seen as a remarkable potential achievement for any of the potential nominees.

Tags: Haley Barbour , Herman Cain

Quinnipiac Sees Cain Surge in Virginia


Herman Cain, welcome to the top tier, at least in Virginia:

Businessman Herman Cain ties former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as the leading choice of Virginia Republicans for their presidential nomination with 21 percent each, followed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry with 11 percent, less than half his showing a month ago when he had led the pack, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. President Barack Obama’s job approval and re-election numbers remain seriously under water in Virginia, although he is in a statistical tie with Romney and Cain, while holding a narrow lead over Perry, in general election matchups, the independent Quinnipiac University poll finds. In Virginia’s U.S. Senate race, Tim Kaine and George Allen are too close to call, with 44 percent for the Republican Allen and 45 percent for the Democrat Kaine. There has not been more than a 1 percent difference between them in any of Quinnipiac University’s three surveys so far this year.

Quinnipiac also shows that 52 percent of Republicans describe themselves as “more enthusiastic than usual” about voting in the 2012 presidential election; 10 percent describe themselves as “less enthusiastic than usual,” and 35 percent about the same. Among Democrats, only 26 percent are “more enthusiastic,” 25 percent “less enthusiastic,” and 49 percent “about the same.” Among independents, it splits 28 percent “more enthusiastic,” 24 percent “less enthusiastic,” and 47 percent “about the same.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Herman Cain , Mitt Romney , Rick Perry

New Poll Puts Cain Ahead of Obama


I’m not terribly familiar with this firm, Poll Position, and they’re using automated voice-survey techology (robo-pollsters, like Rasmussen), but their new survey result is worth mentioning because of the tidal shift it might represent: Herman Cain beating Barack Obama in a head-to-head matchup.

Yes, that Herman Cain, the widely liked former pizza executive whom most folks didn’t take seriously because he had never been elected to any public office before.

They find Cain with 43.3 percent and Obama with 41.3 percent.  In their results, Cain takes 24 percent of the African-American vote.

Interestingly, 18.2 percent of whites remain undecided in this match-up, with only 4 percent of African-Americans undecided. Also interestingly, 12.5 percent of Republicans vote for Obama in their sample, while 18.9 percent of Democrats cross over to Cain.

Their sample splits 33.4 percent Democrat, 32.2 percent Republican, 34.2 percent independent.

Tags: Barack Obama , Herman Cain

The Perry Bandwagon, Looking a Little Lighter These Days


The new Washington Post–ABC News poll suggests that it’s been a rapid rise, and a rapid slide, for Rick Perry:

After a quick rise in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has experienced an almost equally dramatic decline, losing about half of his support over the past month, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Perry’s slide, which comes after several uneven performances in candidate debates, has allowed former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney to resurface atop the GOP field. But the most direct beneficiary of the disenchantment with Perry is businessman Herman Cain, who is now tied for second place. Perry also faces opposition to one of his signature immigration policies in Texas, the survey shows.

Although not fully satisfied with their choices, Republicans are optimistic about their chances of winning the election. More than eight in 10 say the eventual GOP nominee is likely to beat President Obama next year. In the new poll, Obama’s approval remained at a low point in his presidency.

Among announced candidates — without Christie or Palin in the race — Romney leads with 25 percent, which is identical to his support from a month ago. Perry and Cain are tied for second with 16 percent, numbers representing a 13-point drop for Perry and a 12-point rise for Cain since early September.

Theory: There are a certain number of Republican primary voters who just want a winner, and who will gravitate to whichever candidate looks like a “winner” — an admittedly subjective criterion. When Perry was best known as a tough-talking Texan with a terrific record on jobs, this segment of primary voters was eager to jump on the bandwagon. After the debates, the vaccine answers, the “heartless” comment, etc., they’re jumping off the bandwagon and looking elsewhere — and perhaps it’s Herman Cain’s turn to be flavor of the month.

In this survey, at least, there’s limited appetite for a late entry from Chris Christie or Sarah Palin:

Christie is feverishly assessing whether to do so, with a decision expected this week. But the Post-ABC poll finds only modest public support for a Christie candidacy. About 42 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents say they would like to see the New Jersey governor join the race. Thirty-four percent say no, with the rest offering no opinion.

That finding is far more positive than the receptivity to a candidacy by Sarah Palin. Two-thirds of Republicans say they do not want the former Alaska governor to seek the party’s nomination.

Remember when Michele Bachmann was a strong second or third in this race? In today’s survey, she’s at 7 percent.

Tags: Herman Cain , Michele Bachmann , Mitt Romney , Rick Perry

Herman Cain’s Good Week


Herman Cain looks like he’s set to have a good week.

First, yesterday he won his home state’s straw poll, while he was on the other side of the world:

Georgia businessman and Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain won the first statewide straw poll held by the Georgia Republican Party on Saturday at the Georgia National Fairgrounds.

Cain, who was unable to attend the Perry event after traveling to Israel for Glenn Beck’s Restoring Courage rally, received 232 votes, just three more than runner-up U.S. Rep. Ron Paul.

Sure, it’s only a straw poll, but a candidate has to perform well in his home state, and Cain came in well ahead of Georgia’s other home-state candidate, Newt Gingrich, who came in fourth. (The picture at the link depicts Gingrich posing for a photo with a man in a t-shirt that says, “HERE I AM. ROCK YOU LIKE A HERMAN CAIN.”)

According to his campaign, Cain is scheduled to address a joint session of the Georgia legislature on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. How often do state lawmakers host a joint-session address by a presidential candidate?

Not as often as Georgia house speaker David Ralston would like, apparently. He’s offered an open invitation to any presidential candidate; Jon Huntsman spoke there Wednesday.

Tags: Herman Cain

Who’s Competing Hard, and Who’s Not, in Ames


In the unlikely chance you’re around Ames, Iowa, today, the Ames Tribune lists the candidate schedules:

9:30 a.m., Thaddeus McCotter, meet-and-greet at the Iowa Botanical Center, 909 Robert D. Ray Drive, Des Moines.

10 a.m., Herman Cain, “Common Sense Solutions” bus tour stop at the Iowa State Fair, 3000 Grand Ave., Des Moines

.10:30 a.m., Herman Cain, Des Moines Register soapbox at the Iowa State Fair, East University Avenue, Des Moines.

11 a.m., Tim Pawlenty, guest pork chef at Iowa Pork Producers Association Booth, Iowa State Fair.

11 a.m., Thaddeus McCotter, Des Moines Register soapbox, Iowa State Fair.

11 a.m., Rick Santorum, Des Moines Register soapbox, Iowa State Fair.

11:30 a.m., Michele Bachmann, town hall meeting, Sports Page Grill, 1802 West Second Ave., Indianola.

Noon, Ron Paul, Des Moines Register soapbox, Iowa State Fair.

12:30 p.m., Herman Cain, “Common Sense Solutions” bus tour stop, Town Square, South Clinton Avenue, Albia.

12:30 p.m., Tim Pawlenty, Des Moines Register soapbox, Iowa State Fair.

2 p.m., Michele Bachmann, “Join me in Ames Tomorrow!” rally, Tulip Town Square, 507 Franklin St., Pella.

2 p.m., Ron Paul, speech, National Foundation for Women Legislators, Des Moines Marriot Downtown, 700 Grand Ave., Des Moines.

2:30 p.m., Tim Pawlenty, Republican Party of Iowa booth, Iowa State Fair.

3 p.m., Herman Cain, “Common Sense Solutions” bus tour stop, 101 South Main St., Sigourney.

3:30 p.m., Ron Paul, meet and greet, Republican Party of Iowa booth, Iowa State Fair.

4 p.m., Michele Bachmann, Des Moines Register soapbox, Iowa State Fair.

4:30 p.m., Michele Bachmann, welcome home reception, Iowa Living History Farms, Urbandale.

5:30 p.m., Tim Pawlenty, College Students for Pawlenty pizza party, Iowa State University, Ames.

7 p.m., Michele Bachmann, Dallas County fundraising dinner, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, 150 S. Jordan Creek Parkway, West Des Moines.

8:30 p.m., Michele Bachmann, Straw Poll tailgate party, Ames.

Notice that for all extents and purposes, the only candidates who are really competing in Ames are Bachmann, Pawlenty, Paul, Cain, McCotter and Santorum. If any of them finish behind the non-competitors – Romney, Huntsman, Gingirch, and let’s throw in Perry and Palin – they’ll really have to evaluate whether they should remain in the race. I might make an exception for McCotter since he wasn’t allowed into last night’s Fox News debate, an omission that I felt was undeserved.

Tags: Herman Cain , Michele Bachmann , Rick Santorum , Ron Paul , Thad McCotter , Tim Pawlenty

Shock: Lefty Columnist Can’t Understand Why Conservatives Like Cain


Bob Ray Sanders, columnist for McClatchy newspapers: “Then there’s Herman Cain, former CEO of a pizza chain, who many conservatives ‘adore’ perhaps because he’s a black man who obviously has never been smitten by liberation theology.”

Yeah, that has to be it. It couldn’t be because he’s a successful businessman, it can’t be because of his inspiring rise from humble roots, it can’t be his willingness to tell the president of the United States what he didn’t want to hear regarding health care insurance costs to employers, long before he was in the political arena:

It can’t be that he’s been chairman of a Federal Reserve bank. It can’t be his success and message as a columnist, author, radio talk show host and motivational speaker. Clearly, the only reason a conservative could like Cain is because he checks the all-important box of “black man who obviously has never been smitten by liberation theology.”

The drumbeat continues. The broader point of Sanders’ column is that he hopes conservative media will look as closely at GOP candidates’ pastors and spiritual mentors as they did to Obama’s longtime relationship with Jeremiah Wright – without the slightest acknowledgement that the fact that Obama had to renounce Wright to save his campaign indicates that the concern about and criticism of Wright was well-founded.

Tags: Barack Obama , Herman Cain , Jeremiah Wright

Kind Words for Herman Cain, From an Unlikely Source


Kind words for Herman Cain at The Nation? Why, yes, from Melissa Harris-Perry, an associate professor of politics and African-American studies at Princeton University:

I suggest that we do away with all blacker-than-thou arguments about who does and does not get to be “really black” or “black enough.” Engaging in these life-experience-authenticity-litmus tests allows us to imagine that biography determines political solidarity. Herman Cain is a reminder that it does not.

Further, we need to bury, once and for all, the idea that racism is primarily about saying mean or unflattering things about black people, and specifically saying mean or unflattering things about President Obama. We need to insist that discussions of American racism rest firmly in revealing and addressing the disparate impact of policies and practices that create or deepen racially unequal outcomes. Racial animus might have prompted the nasty signage about the President at anti-health care rallies, but who cares? The issues of racism in health care are the continuing racial health disparities that impact black Americans from infancy to old-age. When some whites refuse to vote for Barack Obama it might be caused by racism, but the voting racism I am much more interested in are the voting and registration regulations that state governments are imposing right now in ways that will likely disenfranchise millions of black voters.

If we allow white Democrats to believe that support for Barack Obama is sufficient to protect them from any racialized criticism then we will have to extend that same logic to Republican supporters of Cain. Both are ridiculous. The politically relevant question on race is not the willingness to support a candidate who shows up in a black body. Anti-racism is not about hugging the black guy running for President, it’s about embracing policies that reduce structural unfairness and eliminate continuing racial inequality.

Obviously, NRO readers will find a lot to disagree with in Prof. Harris-Perry’s analysis, but I think they’ll also cheer the sight of somebody on the other side of the aisle actually taking Herman Cain seriously . . . more seriously than some folks on the right.

Tags: Herman Cain

How High Is ‘Right of Return’ on the List of GOP Priorities?


I have the occasional worry that Herman Cain, having never been elected to office before and with no real work in government in his career, may face a tough learning curve in some complicated areas of federal-government policy.

But the idea that he’s committed some sort of epic gaffe by not being familiar with the phrase “right of return” in the context of the Palestinians strikes me as pretty weak tea as far as campaign stumbles go. Some guy at the Atlanta Journal Constitution goes so far to declare that Cain “forfeit[s] any claim as a legitimate candidate” by not being familiar with the phrase “right of return.” The exchange:

CAIN: Right of return? Right of return?

WALLACE: The Palestinian right of return.

CAIN: That’s something that should be negotiated.

When asked again about whether he believes in the Palestinian right of return, Cain seemed unclear about the Israeli position on the matter, as well as his own.

CAIN: Yes, but under — but not under — Palestinian conditions. Yes. They should have a right to come back if that is a decision that Israel wants to make. . . . I don’t think they have a big problem with people returning.

(Right of return: The argument that Palestinians who departed territory that became part of Israel in 1948 and 1967 will be able to resettle on the land that was theirs or their ancestors’. In other words, should many, many Palestinians (millions) be permitted to settle on land Israel currently believes is its own territory?)

Most Americans don’t pay much attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There are many reasons for this, but as a result, the notion that the president of the United States is primarily responsible for creating peace between two peoples who have been in a life-and-death struggle for centuries is held only by a small, but vocal, slice of the elites. According to Gallup, only 30 percent think there will ever be peace in the Middle East.

To the extent Americans think about the conflict, they have a clear favorite: According to Gallup, an entire 15 percent of Americans describe themselves as sympathizing more with the Palestinians than the Israelis; 63 percent describe themselves as sympathizing more with the Israelis. Among Republicans, 85 percent describe themselves as sympathizing with the Israelis more. It’s entirely possible that not knowing “right of return” will not cost Cain a single vote in the GOP presidential-primary process.

Note the reaction on the left — including sites like the spectacularly misnamed “Moderate Voice” — has been to declare that Cain is a “blithering idiot” based on this. (I’m sure “57 states” and “bitter clingers” were no big deals to these folks.) Over at ThinkProgress, commenters sneer that Cain is merely an ignorant pizza delivery guy.

And of course, it didn’t take long for this to crop up in the comments on Alan Colmes’ site:

On Colmes' site, a commenter labels Cain a 'shoeshine boy.'

“Shoeshine boy.” Because he disagrees with you. Why would we expect anything different?

All Cain’s comment did was reveal that he hasn’t given more than a moment’s thought to what the Palestinians — you know, the folks who elected Hamas to run their government and who danced on 9/11 — are demanding. I suppose that if you cling to the idea that only thing holding back peace in our time is a sufficient number of White House all-nighters on creative cartography, then yes, you would want a president familiar with “right of return” and the whole cavalcade of Palestinian demands. If you think the root of the problem is a culture that celebrates suicide bombers more than doctors and entrepreneurs, then this looks like small potatoes; all the presidential familiarity in the world with the “right of return” argument won’t make much difference.

You can have your president who has spent a great deal of time studying how to please the Palestinians. I’d much prefer a president who focused more on what Americans want.

Tags: Herman Cain

Pawlenty and Cain: Two Strong Introductory Videos


I think the first 60 seconds and last 20 seconds or so of Pawlenty’s announcement are pitch-perfect.

My only quibble is that the biographical stuff feels a little forced in there, stuck between a different beginning and a strong closing pitch. At first glance, one might think, “Oh, it’s because Pawlenty isn’t well known, he needs to tell the audience something about himself,” but Pawlenty’s name ID is actually starting to climb up there — 48 percent among Republicans in the last Gallup poll.

There was another official campaign launch this weekend, and it increasingly appears Herman Cain has the potential to be more than the Alan Keyes of this cycle, the entertaining long-shot. Whatever happens in this cycle, it seems likely that Cain will remain a rock star in Republican circles for a long time to come. And if you’re going to emphasize your biography,  maybe you need to put it front and center, as Cain does:

One of the aspects of modern (bad) political advertising is how you can “see the strings on the marionettes,” how a candidate who needs to emphasize an aspect will often do it in a manner that is a little too obvious. For example, seeing Cain address the audience from a boardroom clearly is meant to remind us of his success at the highest levels of the business world.

But I really liked the clear but not-too-heavy way this video alluded to Cain’s Christian faith. I didn’t know Cain had been given only a 30 percent chance of survival during his cancer diagnosis; seeing the candidate walking through his church in this context didn’t seem preachy or a heavy-handed sales pitch to religious conservatives; it only seems natural that during a time of personal crisis, facing one’s mortality, one turns to what one trusts most.

The one surprising omission: Considering how Cain thrives in front of crowds, I’m surprised they only showed silent glimpses of him addressing Tea Party rallies.

Tags: Herman Cain , Tim Pawlenty

Robinson: The Navy SEALs Demonstrate that Government Employees Are Irreplaceable!


Syndicated Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, writing about Herman Cain:

Cain is also distinguished by being the only African American in the Republican field. But he has the public profile of, well, a pizza box. And his anti-government rhetoric sounded a bit jejune in a week when Navy SEALs, CIA analysts and others on the federal payroll demonstrated just how skillful and irreplaceable government employees can be.

If every government employee did their jobs as well as the Navy SEALs did, there would be no mockery or criticism of government employees.

Put another way, if a joint strike team of employees from the Commerce and Labor Departments nabs Ayman al-Zawahiri, they’ll be called skillful and irreplaceable, too.

Tags: Herman Cain

Herman Cain, Ready to Stop ‘Exploring’?


Back in January, Herman Cain announced an exploratory committee for president. A release from Herman Cain’s press office informs me today:

Longtime corporate executive and conservative leader Herman Cain will announce his decision regarding a potential presidential campaign on Saturday, May 21, 2011 in his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia.

The release goes on to state:

Cain is widely believed to have been the winner of the first 2012 Republican candidate debate Thursday evening in Greenville, SC, and has steadily gained grassroots and financial support across the U.S.

Now, call me crazy, but if your exploratory committee is touting a debate win and growth in grassroots and financial support, somehow I get the idea that a formal campaign announcement is in the works.

Tags: Herman Cain

A Debate to Remember? Eh, Probably Not.


In the last Morning Jolt of the week, a quick roundup of debate reactions:

The First Debate, the GOP’s Version of Preseason Football

“Something very special happened this evening,” declared Fox News’s Wizard of the Dial-Based Instant Polls, Frank Luntz, discussing the reaction to former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain in his focus group. Thursday night was the first GOP debate — but with a limited lineup of Herman Cain, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, and Rick Santorum.

Like with the Hall of Fame Game that kicks off the NFL season, most of the big-name starters remained on the bench: No appearance by Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, or Mitch Daniels. Actually, perhaps we should handle all future debates like preseason football; give the big names like Palin and Romney and Huckabee a series of questions and then let them stand on the sidelines while the rising stars get to play for roster spots. Eh, that metaphor breaks down somewhere.

Erick Erickson has a gripe with the Luntz panel: “OK, I bought the Luntz panel saying Cain came in first. Now I question their mental competence saying Santorum came in second.”

Guy Benson: “If I *had* to pick a winner tonight, it’s Pawlenty. Very strong out of the gate. Seemed solid, pretty polished, & credible.”

Jedediah Bila: “Winner in my opinion tonight: Herman Cain. Why? Authenticity. It comes through. Would’ve liked more specifics from him on foreign policy issues.”

John Podhoretz: “The praise for Herman Cain is basically a choice of ‘none of the above.’ I’m somewhat impressed by Pawlenty, but he needs to lose the spray-on tan.”

The newly-wed Mary Katharine Ham (shouldn’t she be on her honeymoon?) isn’t surprised. “Anyone surprised focus group is saying Cain won: If you’re funny, you win. If you’re charming, you win. Herman Cain both. Charisma matters . . . Cain’s take on political experience, ‘How’s that workin’ for ya?’ is the perfect encapsulation of the current feeling for many voters.” If I remember correctly, Obama offered a similar argument in 2008, citing Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld as the embodiment of experienced Washington insiders to Democratic primary voters.

Phil Klein scores it completely differently: “I thought Santorum helped himself the most tonight. Ron Paul came off better than usual. Everyone else was sort of par.”

Over in the Corner, Kyle Peterson was on-scene and offers a summary.

Tags: Herman Cain , Rick Santorum , Ron Paul , Tim Pawlenty

NRA Convention Part Five: Bolton and Cain


John Bolton’s remarks to the NRA attendees addressed a range of topics, some more related to gun issues than others  (the Obama administration’s reluctance to support domestic drilling, the National Labor Relations Board’s efforts to impede Boeing’s move to South Carolina.”

But Bolton offered a powerful and Second Amendment-centered critique of Obama when discussing violence on the U.S. southern border and in Mexico, where he said “the very essence of civil society is endangered by growth and power of drug cartels.”

Bolton attacked the notion that that the American right to own a gun under the Second Amendment is  responsible for the gun violence in Mexico as a “subterfuge,” and argued that the administration’s demonization of U.S. gun dealers as “laying the predicate for stricter gun control laws.”

“As President Obama likes to say, ‘he’s playing the long game.’ When he faces no further electoral constraints, his true agenda will come to the fore.” With a smile, he said to the NRA conventioneers, “I know you’ll know what to do about it.”

Bolton’s intellectual demeanor and data-heavy speeches don’t necessarily make for barnburning speeches, but he seemed to be one of the most deeply respected figures to address the NRA today.

The final potential presidential candidate to address the group today was former Godfather’s pizza CEO Herman Cain, who, for all of the obstacles and long odds facing his candidacy, remains one of the most electrifying speakers in the GOP field.

He began quite simply, “Fellow patriots – the Founding Fathers got it right,” with a confident grin that generated cries of “YEAH!” from the audience.

He continued, “we have to alter this entitlement mentality in America and build an empowerment society. We need to alter this victim mentality and build a society of victors. My parents never saw themselves as victims as they pursued their American dreams.”

In a comment that seemed to apply to Tea Party members as much as to NRA members, Cain urged the audience to “Stay involved! One of the reasons they [on the other side] assuming that we are not going to take [the country] back is becuase they think we aren’t going to stay involved! …Remember, they didn’t get a poll saying a majority of the people wanted to fight King George.”

Cain closed with a captivating story about holding his first granddaughter at the hospital, and he closed, “It is not about us – it is about the grandchildren. It’s not about us, it is about the future generations and their ability to pursue dreams. You can achieve anything in this great country if you believe in God, if you believe in yourself, and you believe in the greatest country in the world – those are the keys to success in America.”

Tags: Herman Cain , John Bolton


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