Businessman Herman Cain’s candidacy was largely dismissed when he announced that he would seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. But it’s becoming increasingly difficult to dismiss his candidacy following a string of Cain triumphs in the polls.
“Is Herman Cain a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination? It’s a question no one in the pundit world was asking until the past week,” Michael Barone writes in the Washington Examiner.
During the weekend, the former Godfather’s Pizza executive easily won a straw poll taken at the National Federation of Republican Women’s convention in Kansas City. Cain won 48.9 percent of the votes, far outpacing the second-place finisher, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who collected 14.1 percent.
Also during the weekend, Cain trounced all other GOP presidential candidates in a straw poll of activists at the Midwest Tea Party Convention in Schaumburg, Ill. Cain won 77 percent of the vote. He was the only candidate to show up at the convention. Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who spoke to the group in a prerecorded message, finished a distant second.
Those Cain victories come on the heels of his stunning triumph in the Republican presidential straw poll on Sept. 24 in Florida. Cain collected 37 percent of the 2,657 votes cast, with Perry second at 15 percent and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at 14 percent.
A new Rasmussen Reports poll showed Cain trailing President Barack Obama by just five percentage points in a head-to-head poll. The only GOP candidate to perform better was Romney, who trailed Obama by two percentage points.
Cain’s campaign suddenly has caught fire, with pundits crediting his 9-9-9 plan
, which would cut corporate and income taxes to 9 percent while instituting a similar rate for a new national sales tax.
Barone cited a SurveyUSA poll of Florida Republicans conducted in late September that showed Cain trailed Romney by a margin of only 27 to 25 percent, a statistical tie.
“We will see whether other national or state polls show Cain with a similar surge,” Barone noted. “If so, then there’s a real possibility that Cain could win enough primaries and caucuses to be a real contender.”
Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal, referring to Cain’s business successes, observed: “Unlike the incumbent, Herman Cain has at least twice identified the causes of a large failing enterprise, designed goals, achieved them and by all accounts inspired the people he was supposed to lead.”
Billionaire Donald Trump told Fox News on Monday morning that Cain should be “very proud of himself” for his performance in the 2012 race. “I think he’s done a really terrific job,” Trump declared.
And Meghan McCain, Sen. John McCain’s daughter, wrote on her blog for The Daily Beast that “the more I see Herman Cain, the more I want to grab a beer and slice of pizza with him.
“Herman Cain has gained attention for attending more than 40 Tea Party rallies across the country and proposing his 9-9-9 tax reform plan. Combine that with his successful performances at the Republican debates and it all equates to his growing momentum.”
Barone concludes: “Cain still has significant liabilities as a candidate and could make a disqualifying mistake any time. But he’s beginning to look like a contender.”
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