After months of running in place, Herman Cain’s presidential run has finally gained traction. Less than a month after Cain’s huge victory in the Florida straw poll, CBS News’ latest poll shows Cain ahead of Rick Perry and tied with Mitt Romney for the lead. Up until now, coverage of the presidential race has focused on Romney and Perry. However, there are plenty of reasons to believe Cain’s rise is more than a momentary surge. Cain is far from a perfect candidate and there are challenges to his candidacy that I will discuss in my next post, but there are very good reasons to believe Cain could be the GOP nominee in 2012.
One huge advantage Cain has over Romney and Perry is his lack of experience. Because Cain has never cast a vote as an elected official, there is no official record of Cain’s positions aside from statements he’s made on the campaign trail. The lack of any official record makes it hard to nail Cain’s feet to the floor and expose him as a less than perfect conservative. This will allow Cain to expose Romney and Perry’s less than stellar records while running as a perfect Reaganite. Cain can also use his lack of experience to paint himself as an outsider the same way Rick Scott did en route to the Governor’s Mansion in Florida. Now is the perfect time for an outsider such as Cain to run for president as an alternative to those pesky career politicians.
Cain can also use his rhetorical skill to secure the GOP nomination. Cain has an ability to electrify an audience unmatched by anyone in the Republican field. At the Florida straw poll, Cain drew multiple standing ovations and had to pause his speech roughly once a minute due to the uproarious applause coming from the crowd. Keep in mind, this wasn’t a rally full of die-hard supporters. Most of the people at this speech didn’t vote for Cain in the straw poll and even fewer would consider themselves die-hard Cain supporters. Nonetheless, Cain had the crowd hanging on his every word and chanting along with his 9-9-9 tax plan.
Lastly, Cain is likely to be seen as the last resort for many conservatives. With Rick Perry’s rapid decline in the polls, poor debate performances and inability to deal with his immigration and HPV demons and Sarah Palin and Chris Christie opting to stay out of the race, Cain will likely end up in a one-on-one matchup with Mitt Romney. Romney’s positions on healthcare and TARP will prevent him from appealing to staunch conservatives in the GOP. The narrative practically writes itself: Romney the moderate establishment candidate vs. Cain the conservative outsider in a battle to determine the future of the Republican Party. Once this narrative is set, the conservative wing of the party will rally around Cain to prevent Romney from winning the nomination. Put briefly, Cain is able. He very well could be the dynamic conservative that Rick Perry was supposed to be. Of course, Cain isn’t perfect, he faces many obstacles that I plan to discuss in my next post. Nonetheless, the road to the GOP nomination could run through Atlanta.