The Corner

Cain Mulls an Endorsement, Rules Out Perry and Paul

As he watches his former competitors begin a two-week sprint to the Iowa caucuses, Herman Cain is not ready to endorse a candidate. But he is inching closer to a decision, telling NRO that he has ruled out two contenders. “I would definitely not endorse Ron Paul or Rick Perry,” he says. “It’s nothing personal, we’re just too far apart in terms of our ideas.”

“At this point, there are only two people I would consider endorsing, and only two,” Cain says. “I’m hesitant, however, to endorse because if I endorse one, that may disappoint half of my supporters, and if I endorse the other, it would disappoint the other half. I don’t want to do that. My objective is not to determine the nominee, to be a big influence, it’s to beat Barack Obama.”

Cain is prepared to wait months until he officially weighs in. “And maybe by that time, it won’t matter, and that’s okay,” he says. “I’m going to wait until a clear leader emerges.”

In the meantime, he has some advice for the contenders, especially Mitt Romney, who he thinks needs to be more “specific” on the trail. “Be more specific, that’s what my Uncle Leroy and Aunt Bessie understand,” he says, and encourages Romney to move beyond “generic solutions.”

Cain, however, saves most of his praise for Newt Gingrich. And he understands why many people thought he was leaning toward Gingrich after he left the race. “People deduced that because we laughed when we were at the debates,” he says. “Newt would come over and ask, ‘You having fun?’ And I’d laugh, ‘Oh, yeah.’ We were the most relaxed people up there.”

“Newt and I also go back to the 1990s,” Cain says, mentioning his work with House Republicans with various economic initiatives. Then and now, he greatly admires the former speaker’s ability to communicate his message with sharp-edged rhetoric. “I wouldn’t call it zany,” he says, referring to Romney’s recent description of Gingrich. “I’d call it bold.”

Indeed, any criticism of Gingrich for being an agitator, he says, is misguided. “That’s the problem with the party,” he says. “When you step out there with something bold, you get accused of being extreme. That’s why we keep losing. Be bold!”

“There is a disconnect,” Cain says. “The political class wants to play it safe. The people are saying, ‘We want bold.’ This country is in a mess and kicking the can down the road.”

Turning to Michele Bachmann, Cain respects her — “we have a cordial relationship” — but he did not find her many mentions of his name at a recent debate to be appealing. He says “9-9-9” is a serious package of reforms and to call her proposal “win-win-win” distracts from that.

“If she was going to make a hard pull [for his support], it was not a very hard pull,” he says. “It was almost like she was making fun of it again. She made fun of it once before. Win-win-win? What does that mean? It means nothing. It’s going back to generic solutions. It was an attempt to come up with a catchy name and it didn’t stick, it didn’t have any substance.”

Robert Costa — Robert Costa is National Review's Washington editor and a CNBC political analyst. He manages NR's Capitol Hill bureau and covers the White House, Congress, and national campaigns. ...

Most Popular

PC Culture

Hate-Crime Hoaxes Reflect America’s Sickness

On January 29, tabloid news site TMZ broke the shocking story that Jussie Smollett, a gay black entertainer and progressive activist, had been viciously attacked in Chicago. Two racist white men had fractured his rib, poured bleach on him, and tied a noose around his neck. As they were leaving, they shouted ... Read More
World

Ilhan Omar’s Big Lie

In a viral exchange at a congressional hearing last week, the new congresswoman from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, who is quickly establishing herself as the most reprehensible member of the House Democratic freshman class despite stiff competition, launched into Elliott Abrams. She accused the former Reagan official ... Read More
U.S.

Questions for Those Who Believed Jussie Smollett

The “we reported the Jussie Smollett case responsibly” contention has been blasted to smithereens. Twitter accounts and headlines in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times reported as fact Jussie Smollett’s wildly implausible allegations, and many other journalists did so as ... Read More
PC Culture

Fake Newspeople

This week, the story of the Jussie Smollett hoax gripped the national media. The story, for those who missed it, went something like this: The Empire actor, who is both black and gay, stated that on a freezing January night in Chicago, in the middle of the polar vortex, he went to a local Subway store to buy a ... Read More
U.S.

White Progressives Are Polarizing America

To understand how far left (and how quickly) the Democratic party has moved, let’s cycle back a very short 20 years. If 1998 Bill Clinton ran in the Democratic primary today, he’d be instantaneously labeled a far-right bigot. His support for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, ... Read More