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Voter for Herman? Yes, they Cain!

Posted: October 6, 2011 10:55 a.m.
Updated: October 7, 2011 5:00 a.m.

I have decided to endorse Herman Cain to be the Republican Party's candidate for president. No, I am not crazy.

I hear the pleas of those who challenge me to give "The Herminator" a chance. In these angry times on the right, Cain and the Grand Old Party seem to deserve one another.

Besides, it would be exciting to see the Party of Abe Lincoln challenge President Barack Obama with a nominee whose ancestors -- unlike Obama's -- were freed by Lincoln.

Although I have not regarded Cain's chances with utmost respect ("No way," is my usual description), he's gaining acceptance. He's earning it. He's making himself matter on several fronts.

For one, polls show Cain's long-shot status doesn't look so long any more. He tripled his support to 17 percent, up from a measly 6 percent before the last three Republican debates, in the latest Fox News Poll. That puts him in a respectable third place, right behind Texas Gov. Rick Perry who fell to 19 percent from 29 percent a month earlier. That allowed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, holding steady at 23 percent, to regain his frontrunner status.

Maybe Cain's upset victory with 37 percent of delegates in the recent Florida straw poll the previous weekend was more than a fluke after all. Many of Perry's supporters found him to be not quote as far right or agile in debates as they had hoped. In a year of anger about Obama and internal divisions over the Grand Old Party's future, Perry's losses have helped Cain's gains.

You hate government? Cain's your guy. He lost the only election he's run for. His entire career has been in the private sector. Take that, Texas Rep. Ron Paul.

And he has an inspiring narrative. Besides famously putting Godfather's Pizza back on its feet as its CEO, the 65-year-old candidate is former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, a radio show host, Baptist preacher and cancer survivor. No wonder his supporters wonder why he gets less attention than, say, Sarah Palin -- and she isn't even running.

Cain has shown himself to be a master of marketing. He keeps his message simple and catchy without sounding like a rap star. For example, his "999" tax plan -- 9 percent flat rate income tax, 9 percent business value added tax and a 9 percent national sales tax. Ah, how blissfully simple that sounds, especially to conservative flat-tax advocates -- even if voters faced with that new sales tax would probably turn "999" into 666 -- and defeat it.

Cain's marketing skills have received high marks from Charlton McIlwain, an associate media professor at New York University who analyzed more than a thousand ads --including Cain's 2004 Senate campaign ads -- for his recent book (co-written with Stephen Caliendo), "Race Appeal: How Candidates Invoke Race in U.S. Elections."

Cain's simple and constantly repeated themes of Marlboro Man-style "rugged individualism" and unapologetic conservatism show why "Cain might be the Republican's best salesman and contrast" to Obama, McIlwain wrote in a Christian Science Monitor op-ed. Obama felt compelled to avoid sounding too liberal in Democratic primaries, but Cain wins GOP base support by sounding as conservative as possible.

That's why I want to see the Obama-Cain debates. After all, there have been some times when Cain, like other expert marketers, has avoided letting inconvenient facts get in the way of his message.

For example, he said during a GOP debate, "If obamacare had been fully implemented when I caught cancer, I'd be dead." He said that's because he was able to get the doctors and treatment that he needed without having to "wait six months like they do in other countries before they get a CAT scan." In fact, "obamacare" does nothing of the sort.

Cain appears to have confused Obama's health care act with the socialized health care in the United Kingdom or single-payer plans like Canada. Obama bent over backwards to avoid systems like that, against many of his supporters' wishes, and build more of a public-private partnership instead. Cain would have had the same access to doctors and treatment, but so would millions of other adults and children who were not covered before.

That's why I'd like to see Herman Cain get his chance to debate Obama. Obama probably does, too.

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