Thursday, October 13, 2011

Citizen Cain and the perils of ice cream politics -- Oct. 13, 2011 column


Herman Cain denies he’s the ice cream flavor of the week, “because Haagen-Dazs black walnut tastes good all the time.”

Enjoy such Cain one-liners while you can. Like ice cream, he’s bound to melt.

Poor Citizen Cain. He’s so certain of victory in 2012 that he explains in his new book, “This is Herman Cain!: My Journey to the White House,” why he scrapped all but one of the inaugural balls.

Cain, the former chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza, rode an ABM missile – Anybody But Mitt – to the front of the GOP presidential pack only to find party leaders lining up behind the former Massachusetts governor.

Cain led Mitt Romney 27 percent to 23 percent among Republican primary voters in the latest Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll with Texas Gov. Rick Perry a distant third, at 16 percent. Cain had a larger lead, 30 percent to Romney’s 22 percent, among registered Republican voters in a national Public Policy Polling survey.

The Cain surge in the polls follows the Perry surge that followed the Rep. Michele Bachmann surge that followed The Donald surge, as in Trump. Tortoise Romney has been stuck at 23 percent since August, unable to win conservatives who distrust him because of “RomneyCare,” his health care program in Massachusetts, and his flip-flops on abortion, gay rights, immigration and other issues.

The first voters won’t cast actual ballots for at least two months, although New Hampshire is making noises about moving its primary to Dec. 6 or 13. That’s enough time for Cain to prove how his 9-9-9 plan adds up, for Rick Perry to reinvent himself or another twist on the winding road to a GOP presidential nominee.

But no. Republican leaders want to end the suspense. A page one story in The Washington Post Thursday trumpeted “GOP views Romney as `inevitable’ nominee.”

``What’s the rush?” columnist Daniel Henninger asked the same day in The Wall Street Journal, arguing that Romney needs the experience of more competition before he takes on Obama and tries to appeal to voters across the political spectrum.

For Republicans, this presidential campaign has been a tug-of-war between heart and head, between sentimental favorites and the pragmatic goal of making Barack Obama a one-term president. The head apparently is winning.

After New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie broke GOP hearts by declaring he really wasn’t running and was endorsing Romney, prominent Republicans began flocking to Romney, including Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and former Sens. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., and Mel Martinez, R-Fla.

Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., a former FBI agent who was elected to Congress last year thanks to tea party anger, endorsed Romney Sunday, acknowledging that tea partiers “may feel Governor Romney is not conservative enough for them. I would counter argue that he’s certainly more conservative than President Obama.

“Sometimes you don’t get everything you want, but if we want to save our country…what Republicans can’t do is turn this into a purity contest,” Grimm told ABC News.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, while not formally endorsing Romney, certainly sounded smitten.

“I continue to be impressed with Mitt Romney’s performance,” Bush told CNN’s Piers Morgan Wednesday. “He’s cool, calm, collected. He’s quick; he’s agile.” Bush called Romney “very consistent and very disciplined.” And, he said, Romney would do well going against Obama.

Even right-wing commentator Ann Coulter is backing Romney – now that Christie is out. Her current dream ticket: Romney-Cain.

Another sign of Romney’s perceived inevitability: Team Obama is hitting him and ignoring the other contenders.

Speaking of which, as dumpy as his job approval ratings are, Obama remains a formidable favorite at the box office. During the third quarter, he raised $70.1 million, his campaign announced Thursday, including $42.8 million for his re-election campaign and $27.3 million for the Democratic National Committee. None of the Republican presidential contenders came close.

Perry was the top Republican fundraiser, bringing in about $17 million in six weeks. Romney raised $18 million in the second quarter and his campaign reportedly has said his third-quarter haul may be higher than $14 million.

Romney may never be conservatives’ favorite flavor, but ice cream melts.

© 2011 Marsha Mercer. All rights reserved.

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