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November 5, 2011 / Political Fluency

Cain is Not Able

Let’s begin with the bottomline: Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee. He’s got the business experience Herman Cain has and he’s been governor of a major state like Rick Perry. He is more moderate and better at debating than both of them, which will appeal to independents and undecideds, making Romney the most formidable candidate to take on an incumbent President.

Romney’s lead is also a bit larger than it seems. The current RCP Average adds up to only 83.7% – that’s 16% undecided. That number will only reduce to 10% undecided, because even when the 2008 Republican primary voting was midway through and it was near-certain John McCain would be the nominee, there were still 10% who could not choose between McCain, Mike Huckabee, and Ron Paul.

Ron Paul’s 8% contingent is a factor in this primary that is unique to this year and last cycle. In 2008, his support ended up around 6.5%. With the focus on spending and economic issues in the Great Recession, it isn’t surprising that Ron Paul’s relentless libertarianism and allegiance to the free market is gaining a bit more traction this year. His positions make him the most unique of the Republican candidates inclusive of foreign policy ideas bordering on isolationism that are far outside the mainstream of the party.

While every other candidate has fluctuated, Ron Pauls’s 8% is his fiefdom of the Republican primary voters. Where you can see support flow from Michele Bachmann to Rick Perry and then Herman Cain with Newt Gingrich possibly next, Paul’s support remains the same albeit small. They are loyal to him to the point of being conspiratorial*.

Add Ron Paul’s 8% to the 10% that won’t pick a candidate while voting is already underway and there is only 82% that can be split among the 5 main candidates in the race (Romney, Bachmann, Gingrich, Perry, and Cain).

Now onto Herman Cain – he is the Ross Perot of 2012. But instead of spending tens of millions of dollars of his own money to fund an independent third-party campaign like Perot did in 1992, Cain is going the cheaper and more formal route of attempting to win a major party’s nomination. He is the latest flavor of the month of the Anybody But Romney delegation of the GOP.

The ABR delegation inexplicably surged behind Representative Michele Bachmann over the hapless Governor Tim Pawlenty, forcing the latter to bow out of the race early. The major parties have only nominated Senators, Governors, and Vice Presidents to be their party’s nominee so it was odd they chose a Congresswoman over a Governor. Pawlenty must be kicking himself right now for not staying in the race. Oh wait, he is. His only strategy was to use his anti-charisma and some quality debate performances this Fall and be the Last Man Standing for the ABR primary voters to latch onto. And I think they would have once they get over Cain next month.

Cain’s 9-9-9 plan to make personal income, corporate, and sales taxes all 9% is as bold as he claims. It is also a tremendous simplification of the tax code that appeals to most conservatives. Most importantly, this bold and simple idea is congruent with the messenger – a bold businessman who is plainspoken. The nation is starving for leadership and a man like Cain appeals to that sensibility.

But this week, the HurriCain has been downgraded to a tropical storm and a weak one at that. Regardless of the veracity of these sexual harassment claims that have plagued the campaign recently, it is the inability of Cain to handle off-the-cuff situations and questions that will result in the loss of his support in these critical weeks before the Iowa caucus.

What these allegations have done is expose voters to more and more incoherent and contradictory answers that Cain has made on other issues such as abortion.

Compare his infamous appearance on John Stossel’s show to his contradictory response to the sexual harassment allegations earlier this week.

Stossel Show:

Cain: I’m pro-life from conception, yes

Stossel: Any cases where it should be legal?

Cain: I don’t think government should make that decision. I don’t believe that government should make that decision.

Stossel: People should be free to abort a baby …

Cain: I support life from conception. No, people shouldn’t be just free to abort because if we don’t protect the sanctity of life from conception we will also start to play God relative to life at the end of life.

Stossel: I’m confused on what your position is. If a …

Cain: My position is I’m pro-life, period.

Stossel: … woman is raped she should not be allowed to end the pregnancy?

Cain: That’s her choice. That is not government’s choice. I support life from conception.

Stossel: So abortion should be legal.

Cain: No abortion should not be legal. I believe in the sanctity of life.

Sexual Harassment Allegations:

Earlier in the day, Herman Cain explicitly denied knowledge of any settlement or financial payout related to allegations of sexual harassment, telling Fox News: “At the Restaurant Association – outside of the Restaurant Association, absolutely not. If the Restaurant Association did a settlement I wasn’t even aware of it and I hope it wasn’t for much because nothing happened. So if there was a settlement it was handled by some of the other officers who worked for me at the time.”

But just a few hours later, in an interview with the cable network’s Greta Van Susteren, he recalled specific details about the allegations and one of the two settlements first reported by POLITICO.

“My general counsel said this started out where she and her lawyer were demanding a huge financial settlement…I don’t remember a number,” he said in a transcript portion published by Byron York.

“…But then he said because there was no basis for this, we ended up settling for what would have been a termination settlement.” When van Susteren asked how much money was involved, Cain said: “Maybe three months’ salary. I don’t remember. It might have been two months. I do remember my general counsel saying we didn’t pay all of the money they demanded.

Former New York Governor David Paterson talked about handling scandals on John Gambling’s radio show this week. Paterson detailed how you need to have savvy advisors and media handlers to help out in situations like this. He put it in terms of not running away from the story, but capturing the story. The other phrase often heard is “get ahead of the story.” The analogies merge when you think about capturing from in front to stop the momentum.

Cain and his campaign staff have failed miserably at that. It has shown he is not ready for handling the unexpected, which is what the President has to do every day.

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*I love how that chart shows Herman Cain with the exact same press coverage as Ron Paul right before Cain surged in popularity. Enough people know what Ron Paul is about, the voters just disagree with him too much to support him.

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