For months, Herman Cain floated under the radar as other candidates for the Republican presidential nomination were poked, prodded and scrutinized by a voracious national media.
A businessman with no elective office experience, Cain could say anything he wanted — and did — because few were paying attention.
Then Cain unleashed his catchy 9-9-9 tax reform plan. He won a straw poll in Florida and vaulted into the top tier, tying or besting front-runner Mitt Romney in some polls.
That, paradoxically, is when Cain's trouble began.
His statements about abortion seemed contradictory. An electrified border fence: joke or no joke? He fumbled a softball question about negotiating with Al Qaeda. He mocked Uzbekistan, calling it "Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan."
Cain's spokesman blamed the 65-year-old candidate's blunders on fatigue, the fast pace of the campaign and the media taking some answers "out of context." Now, amid hints that the Cain surge may be fragile, powerful Republican figures are questioning his ability to rise to the occasion, while his beleaguered staff is being urged to bring on more-seasoned political pros.
"You can't ad lib your way through a presidential campaign," said Republican strategist Ed Rollins, who ran Michele Bachmann's campaign until September and is not affiliated with any candidate. "If you're at the back of the pack, maybe you can do that, but when you're a front-runner, and people are judging you, it can be very detrimental."
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Has Cain Peaked?
Robin Abcarian writes at The Los Angeles Times: