Herman Cain – What’s all the fuss about?
At 37%, Herman Cain collected more votes at the Florida Straw Poll than both Mitt Romney and Rick Perry combined. How did this happen?
Most delegates came to the P5 convention with a pretty good idea of who they were going to support, and like the national polls would indicate, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney were the overwhelming favorites. In my case, I had pretty much decided to join the Perry campaign after the convention and was seeking a confirmation of that decision.
On Thursday, all the candidates appeared at Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom gathering. Perry did OK, giving a variation of his stump speech (“First, don’t spend all the money..”). Most of the others were predictable and although Cain was inspiring, he didn’t really register with me. That evening, at the Fox/Google debate, most candidates held their ground, but Perry faltered badly in two ways. First, he insulted many people on the in-state tuition for illegal aliens issue by saying that if you opposed it you “didn’t have a heart”. Second, a seemingly rehearsed attack on Mitt Romney over flip-flops dissolved into a puddle of incoherence. Not good. Herman Cain again did very well but did not register as I was still working out how to overlook Perry’s problems and rationalize my support for him.
On Friday, at the CPAC conference, Perry had ample opportunity to better explain his tuition stance but declined to do so. He could have explained that unlike the federal Dream Act, in Texas it involves no amnesty and simply applies the in-state rules to “residents”. Furthermore, it was passed with an overwhelming majority in the legislature and many other states provide the same kind of program. (I was still rationalising my support). Once again, Herman Cain was impressive.
On Saturday morning, we attended the Rick Perry breakfast. This would be the fourth time to see him and another chance at redemption. The breakfast was impressive – a full fancy buffet, and there was seating for over 1000. By my count, about 500 were in attendance and many of the seats were empty. After a while, the candidate entered from the corner of the large room and was immediately mobbed by press and eager supporters as he slowly made his way toward the center of the room. It had been announced that he would “greet everyone personally” and many of us waited for him to make his way to our side of the room. After 45 minutes of this he had not crossed the center line of the room and those on our side were visibly annoyed that they were sitting on their hands waiting for the guy. Finally, he makes for the stage and delivers 8 minutes of warmed over remarks (“First don’t spend all the money”). Four chances, four flops. Finally we have crossed the line and start thinking about which other candidate to support, but we will give him one more chance in his afternoon speech before the straw poll.
Not. By the afternoon, Rick Perry was on his way to Michigan and left a “surrogate” to speak for him. Scratch Rick Perry from further consideration.
That left (for me) Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum. Mitt Romney stopped being a choice long ago for many reasons too long to go into here. The others are clearly not in the same league. So we listened to the speeches with an open mind. Cain, Santorum and Gingrich had stayed to deliver their closing remarks, others had surrogates, Bachmann and Romney did not participate. Many around us were having second thoughts about Perry as well, particularly those with a “tea party” orientation. The more mainstream Republicans were comfortably in the Romney camp.
When Herman Cain made his remarks, the room came alive. This is what we were waiting for since Thursday. In my notes I wrote: Broad coverage of the issues, executive style, ARTICULATED VISION, powers of persuasion, and projection of leadership. He pressed all the right (conservative) buttons, but did it in a way that was clear, concise, motivating and persuasive. You could see this guy standing next to Barack Obama and wiping the stage with him. The excitement was palpable.
At that point I decided to vote for Herman Cain. Taking to heart Andrew Brietbart’s advice to not let the media define who is “electable”, I voted my heart. He may not win the nomination or even the Florida primary as there is a rough ride ahead, but now, today, this is a man who can be President.
Watch the video from the Saturday event and decide for yourself: