I know the basics of his bio — accomplished CEO, talk-radio host, cancer survivor — but not much more beyond that. Even so, it got my attention a few days ago when he won Red State’s 2012 “tournament,” topping Mike Pence in the semifinal and Palin in the final. Is that because Cain’s a Red State favorite or is the grassroots support for him out there broader than anyone realizes right now?

Either way, the Daily Caller says to get ready.

Former Godfathers Pizza chief executive Herman Cain says he’s definitely forming an exploratory committee — likely within the next several weeks — to test the waters for a possible Republican presidential run in 2012…

He’s been particularly encouraged, he said, by the results of the midterm elections in November “because I wanted to make sure that this voter anger and frustration was going to convert into votes to change the political landscape, and it did.”…

Cain, who on Friday is scheduled to appear on Greta Van Susteren’s show on Fox News, has been traveling to early caucus and primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire to reach out to grassroots movement and potential donors…

Tim Albrecht, the communications director for the incoming Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, wrote on Twitter this week that, “Prediction: Herman Cain is going to have some serious legs when he begins visiting Iowa.”

He says a run isn’t definite yet but it’s likely since it looks like the base is ready for an “unconventional candidate.” (Evidently they weren’t ready in 2004, because he got crushed in the Georgia GOP primary by Johnny Isakson.) As an interesting gloss on his potential appeal, read this long but interesting Ron Brownstein piece on the “managers vs. populists” dynamic shaping up within the GOP ahead of 2012. The archetypes on each side are Romney and Palin, of course, with “managers” running mainly as economic surgeons and “populists” running against the sclerotic D.C. establishment. Cain, as a successful businessman and popular “true conservative,” has credibility in both roles, and as a practiced public speaker, he should rock that tea party debate in August. (Huckabee, as a blue-collar social con hero and a governor for 10 years, arguably does too.) Does he have any chance of challenging Palin and/or Huck in Iowa, though? As noted in the excerpt, he’s already spending time there, which is smart since winning or finishing a strong second is his only shot at momentum. But c’mon. Surely either Sarahcuda or Huckabee’s going to run; it’s unimaginable that they’d both pass when either stands to clean up among Christians if the other stays out. How does Cain cope with that in the caucuses?

Here’s an interview with Cain that Ed conducted a few months ago during the Right Online conference. Exit question: With both Mitch Daniels and Tim Pawlenty suddenly sounding like their hearts aren’t in a presidential run, is Romney home free as the de facto nominee of the “managerial” wing of the party?