But Cain He?


The spectacular rise of Herman Cain over the last fortnight has cheered conservatives and caused no small amount of angst among establishment Republicans who worry that the former Godfather’s pizza executive can’t beat President Obama in the general election. But those fears may be bogus. A recent Rasmussen poll shows Herman Cain beating Obama in a head-to-head match-up 43-41%, the only GOP candidate who beats the president one-on-one in recent Rasmussen surveys.

But there are many conservatives who worry that Cain may not be ready for the big time, and that his inexperience in national politics will hinder his campaign going into the primaries and caucuses early next year. There is also concern that his signature tax overhaul proposal — the “9-9-9 Plan” — is flawed and would never pass Congress.

Recent polls are all telling the story of Cain’s remarkable surge. In addition to the Rasmussen poll, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll has Cain atop the GOP field with 27% to Romney’s 23%. Former frontrunner Rick Perry clocks in at 16%. The last poll taken by the same media outlets in late August showed Perry on top with 38% and Romney a distant second with 23%. Cain registered just 5% at that time. A CNN poll shows Cain even with Romney in Iowa and South Carolina while vaulting into second place in New Hampshire. Another poll shows Cain doubling up Romney in South Carolina, 32-16%.

Cain’s rise is tied to the fall of Rick Perry, with his increase in support matching the decline in Perry’s numbers. Clearly, conservatives have found a new favorite, and it will be up to Cain to maintain the momentum as he moves forward.

But can he? This surge in support has come even as the candidate has little in the way of organization on the ground in key states like Iowa and New Hampshire — and precious little time to build one. His fundraising will no doubt pick up considerably, but there, too, he lacks infrastructure. Karl Rove said on Greta Van Sustern’s show, “If you’re running uphill, you better seize the opportunities that are given to you, and this is an opportunity which wandering around western Tennessee on a bus is not exploiting.” Rove was talking about Cain’s trips to Texas and Tennessee last week — states that don’t vote until March — while eschewing campaigning in Iowa, New Hampshire, and other early primary states.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Cain is responding to the challenge. He plans on doubling his staff by the end of the month and open more offices in early campaign states. And as far as fundraising goes, his campaign pulled in $2 million the first two weeks of October, compared to $2.8 million the entire last quarter.

Beyond that, he is drawing huge crowds at his appearances. There were nearly 15,000 at six stops in Tennessee, including an overflow crowd of 2,000 that showed up in a barn in the tiny hamlet of Waverly. If professional politicos are concerned about Cain’s ability to reach out and touch ordinary voters, they need look no farther than this.

Worries aside, Cain’s rise is based on solid, political reasons that suggest he has the staying power to compete with former GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney all the way through the torturous primary process.

There really isn’t a secret to Cain’s success. At bottom, he is likable, charismatic, witty, charming, and bordering on brilliant. Those are characteristics any politician would sell his soul to possess and Cain has them in abundance. His debate performances have been outstanding, handling questions with surefooted aplomb. He articulates a conservative vision of government that speaks to the base of the Republican party in a way no other candidate can match. And for many, his lack of Washington experience is actually a plus, suggesting a campaign unsullied by the kind of “politics as usual” that most of the Tea Party wing of the GOP wishes to avoid.

But there are doubters and naysayers who view a Cain victory with a critical eye. Even the candidate admits he is not up to speed on many foreign policy issues. And opposition among some conservatives is building to his “9-9-9 plan” due to its lack of specificity and regressive characteristics.

The plan calls for scrapping the current tax system and substituting a 9% personal flat tax, a 9% corporate tax, and a 9% national sales tax. The merits of the plan include its simplicity, and the elimination of capital gains and other business taxes. As far as revenue, Cain says the plan “will produce initially the same amount of revenue that’s being generated today from the payroll tax, the capital gains tax, corporate income tax, personal income tax and the death tax.”

Cain has called the plan “a work in progress” and has added some wrinkles as the details of the plan are fleshed out. He recently called for exempting used goods like cars and houses from the personal flat tax as well as allowing business to deduct the purchase of goods made in America. While Cain says he had an “outside firm” (Fiscal Associates) score the numbers and that it is “revenue neutral,” some economists aren’t as sure of that claim.

Some conservatives are balking at the national sales tax portion of the plan. The Wall Street Journal reminds us that European countries started with a 10% tax in the 1960s, which has since ballooned to nearly 20% in some countries.  Some on the right fear a similar tax creep here if a national sales tax were added.

The Journal points out:

A 9% rate when combined with state and local levies would mean a tax on goods of 17% or more in many places. The cries for exemptions would be great. The experience of the so-called Fair Tax that would impose a 23% national tax rate isn’t favorable, as even [Jim DeMint] learned when he nearly lost his first bid for the Senate after Democrats attacked the sales tax.

And the politics of Cain’s plan is extremely problematic. Michael Dennehy, a longtime New Hampshire GOP political consultant, told the Washington Times, “It is such an overwhelming change that there is so much that you can attack someone on, saying these people are going to suffer as a result.” He suggested that the loss of the home mortgage deduction would be especially painful for both home owners and the housing industry. At a time of depressed housing sales, others question whether this is the time for such a plan.

But none of the criticism seems to dampen Cain’s enthusiasm for his tax plan, as he talks it up at every stop on the campaign trail and in every interview he gives to the press. He’s right when he says the plan is well received by the voters. Whether that support can translate into political capital to get the measure passed in Congress is another question altogether.

A few of his other proposals have caused unease in some conservative quarters as well. On Saturday, during two stump speeches in Tennessee, Cain outlined his plan for an electrified border fence with a sign in English that would say, “It will kill you – warning.” The candidate appeared on Meet the Press the next day and said he was “joking.” But the video shows otherwise, including the crowd reaction of enthusiastic applause rather than laughter. If the candidate was joking about the death of illegal immigrants, it shows just how much he has to learn about the boundaries of campaign rhetoric and the sense of humor of the national press.

How Cain handles the traps and pitfalls that the media always set for conservatives will go a long way in determining his viability. He will get a taste of it on Tuesday night at the next Republican debate. Not only the moderators, but other candidates will almost certainly attack his tax plan, and perhaps some other issues that the Georgia businessman has not been as knowledgeable on as he should be.

He has a steep learning curve, and the challenges facing him are daunting. His biggest problem is time. The clock is ticking toward the first contests in the 2012 Republican presidential race and Herman Cain has a lot of catching up to do.

  • HalleysFifth

    Establishment Republicans don't worry Cain can't beat Obama – they worry that he CAN. The country club RINOs, Karl Rove, etc. don't want a conservative candidate. They're for BIG Gub'ment just like the Dems and they don't want an outsider they can't control. They want a nice liberal Republican like Romney, who actually WILL have a hard time beating Obama, since he will neutralize the GOP's strongest argument – Socialized Medicine (Obamacare).

  • HalleysFifth

    BTW, why would anyone have coniptions about whether Cain's 9-9-9 plan can pass Congress or not? The plan is just a starting point for an idea during a campaign. The real point is radical tax reform, which will be hammered out in Congress over many months. Maybe we'll end up with something like the Fair Tax or a flat income tax, either of which should eliminate the IRS as we know it. If we have a conservative, liberating tax bill, in the end President Cain will sign it. Chill dudes.

    • davarino

      I agree, at least we have a starting point for eliminating the IRS, and I am behind anyone that starts that ball rolling. I dont hear any bold plans from any of the other candidates. The point was made that the tax rate could creep up from the 9%. How is that an arguement? The tax rate could creep up with any plan and its been creeping up with what we have now, at least it simplifies and the IRS workers can go get a real job and stop harrassing us.

      As far as Cain making the comment about the border fence, I know it is not a viable option but it lets me know that he is damn serious about illegal immigration. Again, something you dont know about the other candidates.

  • BS61

    I've been soooo enjoying the establishment media expose themselves wondering how we could support Cain – and that includes Fox!

  • crackerjack

    Just another sailor on the tea party approved ship of fools heading for desaster. He will be gone as soon a Bachmann and Perry were. As long as the tea party holds the GOP ransom, there will be no serious, comprehensive GOP candidate, only puppets on the tea party strings, debateing nonsense topics such as if mormonism is a cult or if the economy of a world power can be run on a "999" pocketmoney scheme.

    But as the tea party slips into oblivion in the wake of "OWS", the GOP may still stand a chance at returning into the real world of grown up politics and presenting a candidate. Time is running out., as comic figures like Cain prove.

    • kafir4life

      You're just a racist, wanting to keep the Black man down, just like the rest of the libs.

    • stern

      crackerjack, you stand as a perfect indictment of today's education system. May I suggest you begin improving your verbal skills by downloading a browser that has a built-in spell checker?

    • Daniel Fagan

      The OWS are being meet with passive approval because they have not yet articulated their objectives. The Tea Party started with simple understandable goals. When the 99% understand what this group of individuals want, I am sure most of their approval will evaporate like water on an August sidewalk despite the well earned rage at the klepoarchy that has been Wall Street in the last decade or longer. Of course this can occur much faster when the mob shows it's fangs and there is blood in the streets.

  • kafir4life

    The racists in the Democratic party would never allow a Black man to become president. One of their leaders, Harry Reid stated that Herman Cain is too dark skinned and speaks with a Negro dialect. Former President Bill Clinton thinks that Cain should be bringing him his coffee. They select faux Blacks

  • Spinoneone

    If keeping campaign promises were all that important we would have impeached 0 by now. Good talking points and provocative ideas are always fodder for any well run campaign. Cain has good ideas. Can they be implemented exactly as proposed? Probably not, but that is the beauty of our system. Take the good parts of them and run with it. Frankly, the last true "small government" president we had was Cal Coolidge.

  • CharlesWhite

    Cain beats Obama because there is nothing Obama has done that Cain didn't do in Ace's! I believe the Repub establishment is intentionally moving the Primaries up to give Mitt an edge, Mitt and the Old Guard Repubs know the a longer Cain has the worse it is for Mitt (they see the fire building), the First Primaries already Favor Mitt and to shorten Cain's learning and Organising time is a double plus for Mitt! Don't give up, Cain is the Man that can, we can make history with the real deal named Cain!!!

  • Herman Caintonette

    Does Herman Cain have a single coherent thought? I've been listening … and laughing my tail off. 9-9-9 appears to have been stolen from SimCity, and shows about as much thought.

    "The people have no bread, Herman!" "Let them eat PIZZA!"

  • Rob

    41%…? I know America has millions of mindless simpletons but after 3 years of this most incompetent of Presidents, what intellect level still alows for 41% to favor Barack Obama?

    Stunning stupidity

    • http://imataxpayertoo.wordpress.com kathy

      the 41% who live on the government dole perhaps?

    • Herman Caintonette

      Compared to what? The Bush Republicans ruined this economy with its profligate spending on pointless wars, other wasteful defense spending, bridges to nowhere, and handouts to all their corporate masters. After driving the economy in the ditch, a lot of people are reasonably reluctant to hand them the keys to the 'Vette.

      Besides, a CEO who only has a net worth of $3 million doesn't appear to be that great at managing his own finances.

      • Steeloak

        Bush may have driven the 'Vette into a ditch, but Obama came along like a bunch of drunk teenagers, sprayed grafitti all over the car, drove it across a boulder strewn field, and off the edge of a cliff.

  • StephenD

    Ice water on the subject at hand, I know but…I'd love to see Gingrich with Cain as VP. I do love Cain’s honesty and his wisdom. But Gignrich is the true Statesman with the wealth of experience to go toe to toe with Obama and would wipe the floor with him in any debate, on any issue. We need someone that will address Islam, Taxes, Iran, regulation, etc. He can do it. As this plays out my hope is that he emerges. Otherwise, of course, like many of you I'd support any of the candidates over 4 more yrs of the same.

    • Daniel Fagan

      I would rather see Gingrich as Sec. of State, at least we know which country he is for.

  • 11bravo

    Kids!!
    9-9-9 has been studied for decades by economists. It is a serious tax system.
    Just like the generals at the state dept war game for different countries, acedemic and industry economists have studied multple tax structures; 9-9-9 being on of them. It could be 12-9-6, 10-7-5 pick a number. Why do you think Art Laffer is so well versed on 9-9-9? He is not endorsing Cain at this time but he loves that type of tax system simplification.

    I am just a high school grad-but I can listen and hear.

    • Reason_For_Life

      "I am just a high school grad-but I can listen and hear."

      A "good" college like Berkeley, could have burned that out of you along with the ability to think for yourself so count yourself lucky.

  • 11bravo

    Stve; I would involve Newt in any new government just for the creative ideas and forward thinking but…in the end Next does not mind big goverment because he thinks he can make it work "better, and smarter" and he has said so on many occasions.
    But like I said he is a great idea guy, and may help the next prez get major legislation through the congress…Like 9-9-9 Ha.

    Yes at this point I am totally a Cain man.

  • CharlesWhite

    I was a believer in Newt in the early 90's but when he had a Majority with Veto over ride Newt let the big changes in the "Contract with America" die on the vine (in congress) it showed Newt was a Big Gov Good Ole Boy Network Hack after all (Washington Insider), don't forget Newt sat with Pelosi on a Park Bench to "work together" on Global Warming…. If that isn't your Red Light about what Newt will do than your blind! Newt is a Great Idea's man he just doesn't carry the water and would sooner line his pocket (and friends) then push thru the Promise if it’s gonna cost him skin. Newt knows how to play the game and that is why we never get the "REAL" changes made, Mitt will do the same.

  • MKS

    We very much need adherence to our existing US Constitution, and a complete scrapping of our current US Tax Code. I do not think 9-9-9 is unworkable, doubt that it will be regressive, am confident it will catch a lot of revenue from the "shadow economy," and know it has the support of Larry Kudlow and Art Laffer – no mean economic thinkers.____But even if it were unworkable, regressive, and short on revenue – it would be a help to this nation if we could just scrap our current Tax Code, which is an 11,000+ page compendium of concessions to special interest groups. Almost always, it is a mistake to throw away something that exists and hope the change comes out for the better – but in the case of the US Tax Code, I'll make an exception.____Herman Cain is a gracious and serious leader. I expect his cabinet choices will be stellar. One does not need intricate experience in foreign policy

  • mrbean

    Unfortunately, getting the nomination is about money to win delegates in the primaries and Mr Cain cannot compete with the GOP establishment and RINO donors for Romney. Obama has George Soros, Hollywood, the liberal media, and vast illegal monies from foreign sources, Now… Cain as a choice for VP by Romney would be smart.

  • http://www.goodwillsgate.com Will Cook

    YES WE CAIN!

    • StephenD

      If you're going for slogans…Cain IS Able!!

  • 11bravo

    mrbean; How is Cain competing so far?

    Some say doing sunday shows, losts of interviews, and book tour, and just the 888 GOP debates will not work as a campaign strategy…you have to get out to the early states. If I am not mistaken Cain is ahead now in Iowa and S Carolina.
    Cain is unconventional but effective; mostly because he is "Herman Cain".
    He is quite Reganesque in his personableness and quiet but strong conservative priciples.
    It is almost as if we feel he will do the right thing for his country (aka us) no matter what.

  • maturin20

    A Herman Cain nomination in 2012 would make my year.

  • Asher

    Totally Correct, Establishment Republicans like Rove don't want a Conservative candidate, and most Christians are not going to vote for Romney. Cain has really awakened the People with his truth, business experience, and common sense.

  • CharlesWhite

    Who would be Cains best pick for VP? doubt Mitt would take the job, it would have to be someone that brings in the non-Tea Party/Conservitives and womens vote, Mrs. Buachman is Tea Party so she not it, then WHO? Hillary (Ha HA Ha ha ha, just a joke). Who would help capture the Latino, Womens and non-Conservitie vote?

  • Reason_For_Life

    Cain now has, in his own words, a target painted on his back. This article is among the "soft" arrows fired at him. At the debate tonight the full power of the Romney/Media/Republican Insider attack squad will be in force and just as Rick Perry was vanquished so will Herman Cain be sent back to the land of single digits.

    There is nothing really bad about Cain's 999 plan. The plan is infinitely better than the present Byzantine system. It's simple and it removes a host of subsidies and tax credits that are used to control the economy. That's the main problem.

    When people are told that there will be no more 401k accounts, no more mortgage deductions, no energy efficiency rebates, no more charitable deductions, no tax free bonds, etc then you will see why these programs were put in place – to keep serious changes from ever happening.

    So a tax program that would end the institutionalized system of class warfare that we call the progressive income tax will be vilified as a tool to crush the poor and make the rich even richer. A man with the courage to defend a radically new tax system will be made to look like a child who rides the "special bus" to school.

    It won't be pretty, but think of it as a political IQ test for America. If Americans fall for this then we all may live long enough to see America come to an end.

  • 11bravo

    Chuck; possible VP the latina gov of New Mexico?

  • 11bravo

    Why would it be the end of the 401k?
    Maybe everyone goes ROTH; he ends the tax when retirement or investments are cashed in.

  • 11bravo

    Chuck, if I wereCain I would pick someone who I might tell that Iwill not run for re-election and take Rubio, or the female Gov of S.Carolina Nikki Haley and get the first female prez for the GOP or the first Latino-take your pick.

    It could happen.

    • Noway2no

      Love Rubio but he is not elligble per the Constitution. Not NBC. Don't know about Haley.

      • johnnywoods

        I believe Rubio was born here so he is eligible.

  • BLJ

    Cain is ABLE afterall. Able to beat Comrade O. Able to restore pride in the WH. Able to stand up to the idiots on Congress who could care less about the American people. Able to show all Americans that the free enterprise system works and that the United States is the greatest nation on earth.

    He is Obama's and the Dems worst nightmare. A proud, accomplished black man who left the plantation long ago and has not looked back since. Jesse, Al and the rest of those race baiting hucksters are soiling their pants.

  • Steve Chavez

    OBAMA SPEECH IN EL PASO, MAY 10, 2011 "And for the first time — for the first time we're screening 100 percent of southbound rail shipments to seize guns and money going south even as we go after drugs that are coming north." AKA "FAST AND FURIOUS?"

    *******

    "So, here's the point. I want everybody to listen carefully to this. We have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement. All the stuff they (Republicans) asked for, we've done. But even though we've answered these concerns, I've got to say I suspect there are still going to be some who are trying to move the goal posts on us one more time.

    AUDIENCE MEMBER: They're racist!

    THE PRESIDENT: You know, they said we needed to triple the Border Patrol. Or now they're going to say we need to quadruple the Border Patrol. Or they'll want a higher fence. MAYBE THEY'LL NEED A MOAT (Laughter.) MAYBE THEY WANT ALLIGATORS IN THE MOAT. (Laughter-by Obama.)" That means Obama was telling this crowd, and all immigrants, that REPUBLICANS want illegals to BE EATEN ALIVE if they dare cross! JOKE AND LAUGHTER?

    So in two of the quotes I posted he said he was stopping guns from going South and that Republicans want Mexicans to be eaten alive BUT AREN'T THE GUNS FROM FAST AND FURIOUS REALLY KILLING MEXICANS??? IS THAT A JOKE?

    So Cain is ridiculed for his electric fence BUT OBAMA GETS A PASS ON TWO? Who should the MEXICANS be mad at for the deaths of tens of thousands???

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Obama was elected with no experience but "present" as his calling card, Cain
    at least has had a job and a big one at that with success not seen but by
    a few in America. He does not come off as Mr. Big Deal but as and ordinary
    citizen with the ability to hear and see what people want and unless veted
    otherwise a moral balance. Herman Cain may be the man America is looking
    for not the politician, that can come later and Herman has the smarts to
    form a winning team and he will listen to good ordinary people, those who
    do the work and pay the Nations bills. Unless his trust factor comes down
    he will be a front runner all the way, I believe he is earnestly desiring to
    help America right and restore itself while addressing our problems, it will
    not be business as usual. A lackluster campaign field is become much more
    interisting with Herman Cain and I think he Cain……………………William

  • John_Dvorack

    Mitt Romney is just a "White Obama."

    They are both slick talking, arrogant, egotistical, narcissistic empty suits and I hope Herman Cain wipes the floor with both of these fools.

    Go Herman.

  • 11bravo

    Just saw the debates; Cain took some body blows in the opening rounds but stayed on his feet and made it to the next round. All in all Hermain did well, Just well. Not stellar performance or anything. He is going to have to get better esplainin 9-9-9. Mitt and Rick went at it again with neither looking any better. Mitt kept looking as polished and plastic as ever, and Rick looked as desperate as ever. Paul may have scored a point or two until he referenced americas foriegn involvements as imperialist. He always manages to shoot himself in the foot. Newt was nNewt, same with Bachman.
    The analysts were still absolutely dismissive of Cain; " it is still shaping up to a mitt and rick fight" since Herman does not have the money blah blah blah!!

    Peace out!

  • maz Hess

    A big part of the republicans never would vote for a Mormon and another big part of the republicans would never vote for a black, so my guess is that till to the end of the primaries there will be three candidates: Romney, Cain and one who gets the votes from all republicans who hates Mormons and blacks and this person will win. That is what the today GOP is.

    • rlmky

      Hess,
      Your wrong most whites, especially Republicans, look at Ideology not race or religion these days.

  • alexander

    KA-BOOM!!!! (sound of Republicans shooting their feet)
    1. they let the liberal mediators "conduct" their debate
    2. Palin's teleprompter was sabotaged by a liberal in charge.
    3. 99% of interviews are done by leftist urinalists bent on making fools of conservatives

    DO NOT LET THEM DO THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • ObamaYoMoma

    If Cain wins the Republican Party Presidential nomination he is going to have to counter with far more than just 9-9-9 to defeat Obama in the debates, and on foreign policy Cain is a completely unqualified neophyte as he demonstrated once again in last night's Republican Party debate. While there is no denying Cain is very charismatic, it is also very hard not to notice that he is woefully unprepared and very naïve at the same time.

  • Jim

    Before a finished item reaches the consumer currently taxes are are placed on each step . Each of the taxes are passed along to the consumer. Eliminate those taxes and the consumer pays much less for the item. Then add on 9% more to that cheaper price and that is what the consumer pays. Remember the consumer will have a marked reduction
    in the with holding taxes. There is an assertion floating around that the lower half pays no taxes. That may surprise some people in that group.

  • johnnywoods

    Unless Cain does something unbelievably stupid I am going to vote for him. I said I`m gonna vote for the Real Black man as opposed to the mongrel in the White House now.

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