"I love him. He doesn't talk down to you. I think he gets the working man."

Following the rally in Jackson, Cain bolted off the stage and shook hands with onlookers, including Linda Fowler-Cole, who had wandered over after a shopping trip to Lowe’s and was wearing a T-shirt with an oversized picture of Obama

“I heard the 9-9-9 guy was here and I came to take a look,” the Democrat said. “I like Obama, but that 9-9-9 is catchy.”

In Bartlett, Tenn., Cain drew a number of black supporters who were excited at the prospect of a conservative African-American of his stature.

“To me he represents what Martin Luther King was talking about when he talked about his dream,” Reginald Tooley, a 49-year-old physical therapist from Memphis, said. “With hard work and self-reliance you can do anything you want.”