The only other major candidate who will not be in Des Moines Friday night is Herman Cain. The current frontrunner’s decision to skip the Reagan dinner has left GOP insiders and ordinary voters baffled and disappointed. “He needs to get to Iowa, and he needs to get to Iowa quick,” says one well-connected insider. At various events around the state, voters have said they don’t understand why Cain has spent the past week in Washington DC, mounting a disorganized defense against sexual harassment allegations, when he could have been in Iowa campaigning before friendly crowds.

Cain did not have any events on his public schedule Thursday. On Friday, he has one event, a 1:00 p.m. speech at the conservative Defending the American Dream Summit in Washington. (Romney will also speak at that event, put on by Americans for Prosperity.) On Saturday, Cain will go to Texas for a Tea Party event and a one-on-one debate with Gingrich.

All that time, Cain will not be meeting Iowa voters and will not be answering their questions.