In the same week that GOP hopeful Herman Cain vowed to put a conservative in the White House next year and called out the president on his Afghanistan policy on ABC’s This Week, he took a shot at some fellow conservatives. As reported at Outside the Beltway, Cain was a bit skeptical of some prayers and bible passages delivered to the Faith and Freedom Conference by fellow challengers Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty.
After our interview, Cain asked me about the other candidate speeches I’ve seen covering FFC this year. There was no indication that Cain had seen them. I mentioned that Bachmann had highlighted her remarks with a prayer — she led the crowd in a long, politically-tinged prayer ending in “Amen” at the end of her remarks Friday.
In a similar vein, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) recited a Bible verse during his speech Friday night, while many in the audience spoke the words from memory along with him.
Cain is no stranger to leading prayers — he’s an associate minister at Antioch Baptist Church North in Atlanta — and there’s little doubt he will be warmly greeted by the evangelical audience here.
But Cain said that the prayerful moments, which were well-received when Bachmann and Pawlenty delivered them yesterday, smacked of candidates trying a little too hard.
“Well, that sounds like the ultimate pander,” he said, dismissively.
In a way this makes sense. Cain isn’t at the point where he can afford to simply ignore the rest of the GOP field and focus his attacks exclusively on Obama. Though he’s been surging in the polls of late, Romney will enjoy a huge fundraising advantage and Bachmann has some home town appeal going into Iowa. Cain is looking to capitalize on the exit of Mike Huckabee for the Christian conservative and So-Con vote, and T-Paw and Bachmann are natural competitors for that market.
His Sunday appearance on The Week came off very well, with Cain participating briskly in the roundtable on a variety of subjects, rather than just turning it into a campaign stop for his own candidacy. It’s a bit too soon to be discussing him as a potential “frontrunner” at this point, but Herman Cain has obviously fired up the public imagination enough to be getting some top tier attention from the media.