Can Cain do it?

But in background conversations, Cain’s Iowa team tells me that much is happening behind the scenes to get ready for January. As Cain has gained in the national polls, his Iowa aides have been coordinating activists, urging them to coalesce under the campaign’s online umbrella, called “Herman Cain Express,” while encouraging them to continue their self-directed activities. There is a consensus in Cain World that much has been accomplished by Cain’s fervent supporters without the campaign’s interference, and to meddle with that, beyond offering a helping hand, would be detrimental. It comes back to the AFP model, one aide says, where a group or candidate leads, but does not fully direct, a groundswell. At least that’s their hands-off hope…

“It’s electric,” Plakon says. “And it remains organic. The national campaign is working on things,” such as launching a new political-action committee, “but this campaign is a lot like Marco Rubio’s last year — people see a great leader and connect; they don’t care about how the campaign is built.” Of course, even Rubio had statewide canvassing and fundraising teams.

“Cain can bypass the traditional channels,” Plakon says. “And he’s doing it at a lot lower cost, having folks go from neighbor to neighbor. In the age of social networking, that’s invaluable.” And to those who think Cain’s simply on a book tour, he says, think again. Romney, Rick Perry, and others are keeping mum about Cain’s tack. Presidential campaigns can be cruel to novices and Cain, most acknowledge, has much to do in a very short time.