Have Republican voters found a savior in Herman Cain or just a false prophet?
Asked after a campaign event in Ohio last night whether he would accept an offer to be a Fox News host if his presidential bid didn’t work out, Cain replied: ”I’m going to be President, so I won’t be able to accept it.”
It was a good answer, followed by not-so-good hedge: “Well, I never say never,” the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO told reporters, according to ABC’s Susan Archer.
“What I’m saying is, I’m not doing this to position myself for an offer from Fox News or anybody else,” Cain said. “If, in the unlikely event, I don’t win the nomination or the presidency, I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.”
All week Cain has faced a barrage of flavor-of-the-week, flash-in-the-pan-themed questions, but as his presidential campaign is buoyed by rising poll numbers the uncertainty about whether Cain is actually a serious contender has become a serious issue.
So serious that yesterday even one of the other candidates’ wives took a jab at the businessman’s trademark 9-9-9 economic plan.
“When I hear 9-9-9, I want to call 9-1-1,” Anita Perry, wife of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, told a group of women at the Cribbs Kitchen in Spartanburg, S.C. as she campaigned for her husband. http://goo.gl/wqDIA
In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America” today, Perry said he agreed with his wife’s comments: “That’s pretty close to hitting the spot,” he said.
Perry added that the country needs ”somebody who really knows how to create jobs, not somebody who’s got a catchy slogan.” http://bit.ly/qccP41
As it so happens, the Texas governor is giving a speech on energy and jobs today in Pittsburgh, Pa. — his first major policy rollout of the primary season. It’s clear that Perry has a hefty campaign war chest at his disposal too.
Cain, on the other hand, appears to be staking his hopes on the 9-9-9 plan, the effects of which have been the subject of growing scrutiny by economists and opponents. http://goo.gl/WgStG
He doesn’t seem to be following a traditional geographic path to the nomination either. Today he kicks off a two-day bus tour through Tennessee, a state that is not scheduled to hold its primary until March — long after the dust will have settled from the contests in critical early states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
So, what’s Cain up to?
“I was born in Tennessee, I want to go home!” Cain joked to reporters earlier this week. “I’m just kidding.”
He added, “This whole schedule has been compressed, right? That means that later states are going to be more important than they would have been under the old schedule, so we’re just making sure that we have done our homework in those states as well.”
Point taken, but without some kind of momentum coming out of the early states, it’s hard to see Cain’s path to nomination.
Given the Cain-Perry scuffle, it looks the Democrats are going to have to take the job of basing Mitt Romney into their own hands. First, it was David Axelrod who cast Romney as a serial flip-flopper on a conference call with reporters earlier this week.
Today, it is former Obama spokesman Bill Burton — now the head of the Democratic Super-PAC, Priorities USA — who is circulating a memo titled: “What’s the matter with Romney?”
“Rick Perry’s sudden decline and Herman Cain’s concurrent surge reinforces an important point about the primary: Republican voters are still desperately shopping for an alternative to Romney,” Burton wrote in the memo that argues Romney’s support is “stagnant.” “While he may well end up the nominee, it is only because their voters will have exhausted all other options.”
IN THE NOTE’S INBOX: ROMNEY RAISING: “Today, Romney for President announced it has raised more than $32 million so far in the primary,” according to a press release from the Romney campaign. “The campaign will report raising more than $14 million for the third quarter, and more than $18 million for the second. This total represents only primary contributions as the campaign did not raise general election funds. In 2007, Romney collected $10 million for the third quarter reporting period.” Cash On Hand: $14.65 million.
PERRY PREVIEW. ABC’s Sarah Kunin and Arlette Saenz have an early look at Gov. Perry’s first major policy address since entering the presidential race. He will “lay out a sweeping energy plan Friday, which will expand oil and gas exploration while spurring an economic boom he estimates will create 1.2 million American jobs. ‘My plan is based on this simple premise: make what Americans buy. Buy what Americans make. And sell it to the world,’ Perry will say at the U.S. Steel Mon Valley Works Plant in West Mifflin, Penn., according to excerpts of his prepared remarks released by the campaign. ‘We are standing atop the next American economic boom…energy. The quickest way to give our economy a shot in the arm is to deploy American ingenuity to tap American energy. But we can only do that if environmental bureaucrats are told to stand down,” he’ll say. The “Energizing American Jobs & Security’ plan is the first phase of Governor Perry’s economic policy rollout, which he hopes will reinvigorate his stumbling campaign. Perry will unveil phase two of the plan, which will focus on taxes and federal spending, later this month. In a phone interview with USA Today, Perry explained the energy initiatives are capable of creating new, high paying jobs while also aiming to ‘reduce our dependence on energy from nations that are all too often hostile to the United States.’” http://goo.gl/SXa2d
On “Good Morning America,” ABC’s Jonathan Karl examines whether Perry can rebound from his falling poll numbers: http://goo.gl/pgJOR
WHERE DOES CAIN GO FROM HERE? Here’s what Herman Cain said about the future of his campaign organization while campaigning in New Hampshire this week: “We currently have about 35 people full time on staff. Some of them full time here in New Hampshire, some of them full time in Iowa, some of them full time down in Florida. We’ve got people out in Nevada, we’ve got people in South Carolina and then we’ve got a core of staff. We have run this very lean — by design. We are now going to ramp up. … As we speak we are ramping up and filling some very valuable positions that we need to fill. … We now have the money to do so. I didn’t want to get out in front and commit to spending a whole lot of money before I knew that the American people were going to say, ‘you know what, this long shot may not be such a long shot.’”
ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE.” ABC’s Rick Klein and Amy Walter interview Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel. Also on the program, teenager Connor Brantley, founder of United Now, and organization whose mission statement says it is “committed to ensuring that the partisanship in Washington stops.” Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. http://abcn.ws/toplineliveabc
THIS WEEK ON “THIS WEEK”: DAVID AXELROD, REP. MIKE ROGERS, AND REP. JOHN LEWIS. And as the GOP field takes its final shape, the Obama campaign focuses its sights on frontrunner Mitt Romney. How will they take on the potential GOP challenger for the presidency? Christiane Amanpour talks with top Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod in a “This Week” Sunday morning exclusive. Plus, tensions have escalated between the United States and Iran after revelations of an alleged Iranian plot to assassinate a Saudi ambassador on American soil. How involved was Iran in the foiled terror plot, and how will it be held accountable? House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., and The New York Times’ David Sanger join Christiane to discuss the latest on the failed plot. Sunday’s “This Week” roundtable will feature George Will, ABC News senior political correspondent Jonathan Karl, economist and former Clinton economic advisor Laura Tyson and Bloomberg’s Margaret Brennan dissect the economic proposals from both sides of the aisle. And Republican strategist Mary Matalin and Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus join the roundtable to discuss all the week’s politics. Finally, as the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is dedicated in Washington, D.C., this weekend, ABC News senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper tours the memorial and discusses King’s legacy with civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.
PERRY ON PASTOR JEFFRESS. “I have a lot of people that endorse me but I don’t endorse what they say or what they believe for that matter and that’s the case on this one. I can’t control those individuals who go out and say something who may be for me in a race,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America” today. “Look, I’m not going to say that he can’t say what he wants to say. The issue is, are we going to tell people what they can say and I’m not going to be one of those. This is a country where we truly have freedom of expression. And they are going to be people who say things about me, probably going to be people that say things about President Obama that are offensive to him and his family,” he said. “But those folks who say those things are going to be the ones that you need to be asking the questions to.” http://goo.gl/agWhP
OBAMA’S PLAY FOR MICHIGAN. “President Obama arrives here on Friday on another visit to Michigan, seeking not only the electoral votes that are essential to his re-election effort, but a platform for a far bigger message,” The New York Times’ Jeff Zeleny and Monica Davey note. “He has returned again and again, nine times since taking office, to argue that his decision to bail out two of the Big Three automakers helped workers here and across the industrial Midwest. He has offered up a rebuttal to criticism about the value of government intervention. The president’s path to a second term is built around winning a wide swath of states, including many with close ties to the auto industry. They are home to some of his biggest political and substantive challenges, including a depressed economy, a disenchanted middle class and a disdain for government highlighted by the Tea Party movement. A handful of states he carried in 2008 could slip away, but Democrats believe Mr. Obama cannot lose Michigan, fearing that other states will be even harder to hold. Shifting demographics and deep economic burdens have snapped the Democratic Party’s recent hold on the state and given Republicans confidence that Michigan is again one of the country’s most fiercely competitive battlegrounds.” http://goo.gl/w71G3
HERMAN CAIN AND THE BEAUTY OF SIMPLICITY. “Fifteen years ago, one conservative summed up his enthusiasm for Dole by saying it was like kissing your sister,” writes Slate’s John Dickerson. “With Romney, it may be more like kissing a mannequin of your sister. Cain is now the third candidate, after Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, to rise in the polls as a challenger to the perceived front-runner: According to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, Cain is actually running ahead of Romney among Republicans, 27 percent to 23 percent. He is also pushing a catchy tax proposal that has won him a lot of attention. But what really makes Cain different is that he is the most articulate advocate of the Gospel of Simple: the idea that solutions are not as complex as the experts say, and that much of our current mess has been caused by those preaching complexity. … This argument for simplicity resonates with Cain supporters like Diane Harris of Naples, Fla., who voted for Cain in a straw poll of conservative activists in Florida last month. ‘Because Romney is a politician and a bureaucrat he’d say that. Bureaucrats take forever. They never take the simple course to get anything accomplished. He has a big ‘ole plan. We’re tired of that. There are common-sense ways to fix stuff but people keep adding more and more levels until it’s an anchor around your neck and you’re in the water.’” http://goo.gl/1Kkzz
ROMNEY TALKS TRADE AND GETTING TOUGH ON CHINA. “At a speech yesterday at the Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington, Mitt Romney spoke about his trade policy, hammering at many of the ideas laid out in his jobs plan last month,” ABC’s Emily Friedman reports. “His position focuses on labeling China as a ‘currency manipulator’ if the country continues to refuse to adhere to the U.S. trade standards. ‘As president, I will present China with a clear choice,’ said Romney. ‘Either abide by your commitments, open your markets, and respect our property, or else the days of open access to our markets, our ideas, and our companies, are over.’ Romney also laid out his plan in an Op-Ed in today’s Washington Post in which he writes, ‘Actually doing something about China’s cheating makes some people nervous. Not doing something makes me nervous.’” http://goo.gl/VF2bP
DOES PERRY WANT IT BADLY ENOUGH? “Like everything else about running for president, the ‘fire in the belly’ test is tricky,” writes the Washington Post’s Melinda Henninberger. “Voters tend to like candidates who want it enough to work for it — Bush, for example, came in for some of the same criticism as Perry, ridiculed for keeping a relatively light campaign schedule and traveling with his pillow. … [Perry spokesman] Mark Miner said that his boss was merely ‘following the rules of the debate’ in not inserting himself more aggressively on Tuesday, and that out among the general public, no one wonders whether Perry wants the White House badly enough. … Still, he seems oddly unmotivated during these required outings, and at the recent forum, in Hanover, N.H., he not only looked as though he didn’t want to be there, but admitted as much: “Debates are not my strong suit,” he told reporters afterward. “But you know, we get up and do ‘em, and we just try to let people see our passion.” … Meanwhile, Miner insists that the only difference between Perry’s campaign experience in Texas and on the national stage boils down to this: ‘It’s just longer plane rides.’ But former Bush media adviser Mark McKinnon described a much craggier learning curve. ‘He looks surprised, ill-prepared and unconditioned,” he said of Perry. ‘You can’t fake it at this level. It is designed to expose your flaws. The process of running for president is brutal. It strips you naked and runs you through the streets. And the question can’t be ‘Will you do it?’ but ‘Do you want to do it enough to put in the hard work it requires?’”
BACHMANN PREVIEWS FUNDRAISING NUMBERS. “Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann dropped hints about her recent fundraising exploits and suggested she would boycott an upcoming Republican caucus in visits to western Iowa on Thursday,” the Des Moines Register’s Jason Noble. “Bachmann, a Minnesota congresswoman, told reporters here Thursday night that she collected donations from 92,000 supporters in the third fundraising quarter at an average of $42 each. That likely puts her total haul somewhere short of $4 million — well behind opponents like Rick Perry (who’s claimed donations around $17 million) and Ron Paul ($8 million).” http://goo.gl/Q5kv2
OBAMA, BOEHNER PHONE CALL GETS FEISTY. “President Obama placed a phone call to House Speaker John Boehner this afternoon to congratulate him on passing three free trade agreements through the House of Representatives Wednesday, but what started as a courtesy call ended with the two leader’s disagreeing over job creation,” ABC News’ John R. Parkinson and Mary Bruce report. “According to a read-out of the phone call provided by the office of the speaker, once the president and speaker finished exchanging niceties over the FTAs, Boehner “respectfully challenged” Obama for saying he had not yet seen a plan from Republicans to create jobs. ‘I want to make sure you have all the facts,’ the speaker told the president during a phone call that lasted about 10 minutes, according to the read-out. The speaker then reminded the president that House Republicans put forth a Plan for America’s Job Creators in May, and recalled that he and other members of the GOP leadership team had spoken with Obama and his staff about the plan and they’d referred to it on numerous occasions, including in letters addressed to the president.” http://goo.gl/z2oO3
* Rick Perry heads to West Mifflin, Penn., at 10:30 a.m. to unveil his energy plan.
* Jon Huntsman holds an Employee Town Hall at Lincoln Financial in Concord, N.H. at 10:30 a.m.
* Michele Bachmann holds a town hall in Sioux Center, Iowa at noon. At 2:30 p.m., she hosts a town hall in Rock Rapids. At 6 p.m., she holds one in Estherville.
The Note Futures Calendar: http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV
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