Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has made some well-publicized gaffes since rocketing to the top of polls a few weeks ago. And although those mistakes don’t seem to have harmed him with voters, Cain plans to temper his hectic campaign schedule to cut down on the number of errors, The Daily Beast
“We’re trying to slow down a little bit, make sure he’s rested, make sure he’s focused,” said J.D. Gordon, the campaign’s communications vice president. The campaign seeks a “more deliberate pace . . . so we don’t make those kinds of mistakes.”
Cain has been partaking in up to eight events a day, “and when you do that and don’t use a Teleprompter, sometimes you can make a mistake,” Gordon told The Daily Beast. “People understand he’s not a career politician; he’s very spontaneous. They know how fast he’s going. People give him more leeway than they would someone who’s in Congress or a governor.”
As for the mistakes, Cain recently said abortion is “a choice that that family or that mother has to make,” and “not me as president. Not some politician. Not some bureaucrat.” That didn’t please anti-abortion advocates.
Gordon acknowledged the error but said Cain was “really tired” from the seven interviews he was doing that day. And he defended Cain’s remarks. “He didn’t say anything that was inconsistent with his beliefs. But he was taken out of context by people who want to distort it for political gain.”
In the wake of the recent Israeli-Palestinian prisoner exchange, Cain said that, as president he would consider trading hundreds of Guantanamo Bay prisoners for one U.S. soldier but changed his tune later.
“If he’d been rested,” Cain wouldn’t have goofed like that, Gordon said. “Mr. Cain was only going on about four hours’ sleep. He did correct it right away. He would not negotiate with terrorists.”
The mistakes haven’t endeared Cain to the Republican establishment. “Cain has had a number of misstatements,” ace Republican strategist Karl Rove said recently. “I think it has created an image of him as not being up to this task . . . That’s really deadly for a presidential candidate.”
Cain’s response: Rove was making “a deliberate attempt to damage me because I am not, quote unquote, the establishment choice.”
Polls show voters are siding with the candidate. A Fox News survey released Wednesday indicated that Cain leads the field with 24 percent support, followed by Mitt Romney with 20 percent, Newt Gingrich with 12 percent, and Rick Perry with 10 percent.
Cain benefits from the fact that many voters don’t care about his slip-ups. They’re looking for the anti-politician, and the businessman fits that role.
“He’s the only guy who talks like he’s not a politician and, yeah, he screws up occasionally,” Democratic strategist Joe Trippi, told The Daily Beast. He sees Cain “an even bet” to win the nomination.
To some extent, Cain is a beneficiary of the fact that actual primaries/caucuses are months away, Trippi said. When he managed Democrat Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign, “we were gaffe-ing every other day,” and it didn’t make a difference for months. “The further away we were from the actual vote, the better we did. Our mistakes got magnified the closer we got to the voting.”
Dan Schnur, who runs the politics institute at the University of Southern California, pointed to the timing issue as well. “Herman Cain is not yet a presidential candidate in the minds of most voters,” he told The Daily Beast.
“He’s a vessel through which they’re expressing their unhappiness with the way politics is practiced. One reason they’re willing to look past some of the difficulties he’s gotten himself into is they’re using him to send a message.” But that could change easily.
Meanwhile, Cain has raised more than $3 million since the beginning of October from 65,000 donors, his chief of staff, Mark Block, told CNN’s Political Ticker
blogger Thursday night. "We've actually doubled in a little over a month, and that's what we're seeing in our grassroots activism growth," he said.
If that figure is accurate, it exceeds Cain’s fundraising total for the entire third quarter — $2.8 million, which includes a $175,000 loan from Cain.
The fundraising surge coincided with Cain’s big jump in the polls last month. As of late September, he garnered only single-digit support in polls.
Block defended Cain from criticism that he is staying away from the first two primary/caucus states of Iowa and New Hampshire while conducting a book tour in the South.
"I think when this is all said and done, you will see that we have one of the strongest, widespread, and deep grass-roots organizations all across America." Block said the campaign has organizations in all 50 states.
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