“It was hard to keep track of how many times Herman Cain brought the crowd at the Values Voters Summit to their feet during his speech Friday afternoon. You really have to watch Cain’s speech … to appreciate his success. With a good sense of humor, the cadence and inspirational tone of a preacher, and a rich and booming baritone voice, Cain’s charisma is what truly separates him from the rest of the Republican field…
“As he came to a close, Cain said some people ask him: ‘Why are you running for president?’
“‘To be president!’ he exclaimed, sarcastically adding: ‘I’m not running to go to Disneyland. I’m going to the White House.'”
“But it is not clear that Mr. Cain, 65, has any particular plan to seize this moment, beyond using the attention to sell books. Like the other candidates vying to become credible alternatives to Mr. Romney and Mr. Perry, Mr. Cain is operating on a shoestring. He raised $2 million last spring. More money is coming in, he said, and he has 40 staff members, mostly in Southern states. Still, an adviser to the campaign said the campaign had only four people working in Iowa, and there is no plan to change strategy.
“Many Republicans doubt this will be enough to launch Mr. Cain in the crucial early states, especially if he decides to avoid retail politics.
“‘No candidate can afford to spend two or three weeks not being in New Hampshire this year,’ said Steve Duprey, a Republican National Committee member from the state. ‘He has not made as much progress organizing in New Hampshire as he could have, but there’s time.’
“When asked why he would launch a book tour while running for the presidential nomination, Mr. Cain said that ‘the two complement one another’ and that the benefits go beyond raising his name recognition among voters — one of his main goals.”
“Block responded that Cain ‘fully intends to be president of the United States.’
“But, as Block also said, the campaign has just 30 staff members spread across five states, fewer perhaps than one of Cain’s former pizzerias. The candidate this week was scheduled for six book signings and just three traditional campaign events.
“An e-mail that went out to Cain supporters the day before his upset victory in the Florida straw poll wasn’t about one of Cain’s policy positions but instead offered them a chance to buy a collector’s edition box set of the book, complete with a red case and gold trim. ‘Consider giving a loved one a copy of This is Herman Cain,’ it said. ‘You wouldn’t be giving them just a book. You’d give them a gift to open again and again.’…
“‘It’s very smart to leverage his political surge to sell more books,’ Galen said. ‘He’s a smart businessman.'”
“Rob Collins, a respected inside-the-Beltway Republican strategist — who had been tapped to manage Haley Barbour’s aborted presidential bid this year — said Cain’s showing in the polls is nothing more than a ‘protest vote.’
“He explained that Cain’s standing is ‘the base saying ‘Perry, until you get your act together, we are with Herman.”
“Even Perry supporters say privately that they believe this is the case…
“One national conservative strategist described the trajectory of the race thus far as ‘perfect for Mitt Romney’ in that ‘Michele Bachmann is not going to happen. Perry is hurting. This Cain thing is perfect because it’s eating at Perry, but anyone with half a brain knows that Cain is not going to get the nomination of our party.'”
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