Meet the Hermanator

Truth be told, what distinguishes Cain’s message is less its content—“From the standpoint of our conservative beliefs and values, Sarah Palin and I are probably identical,” he told me—than the person supplying it. Cain is a 65-year-old retired African American pizza-company CEO who sits on several corporate boards, including Whirlpool’s, and entered politics only as a late-life hobby. But he’s serious about running for president. To a bland field, he’d add charisma, a compelling story, and some craziness…

Cain is a born talker, with a rich baritone that sounds uncannily like the actor Samuel L. Jackson. He’s also a showman, and utterly uninhibited. Recently, he survived Stage 4 cancer, and claims he wouldn’t have under Obamacare. Although often outrageous, he has a shrewd sense of his appeal. At a GOP confab in New Orleans last year, Cain railed against liberals, who, he said, slander conservatives as “racist, redneck tea-baggers.” He paused for effect, then brought the house down: “I had to go look in the mirror to see if I missed something!”…

Cain would surely enliven the proceedings, and might even steal a debate or two. But is he for real? Maybe. “The people posting about Cain on Facebook and Twitter are the activists I look to for the pulse of the Tea Party,” Tim Albrecht, a top aide to Iowa’s Republican governor, Terry Branstad, told me. “They’ve taken an increased interest in him.” Get ready, America, for The Hermanator Experience®.