“Cain Train Is Not Stopping”: Business as Usual in Iowa

Dec 2, 2011 5:13pm
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Carolyn Kaster/AP

URBANDALE, IOWA—Just minutes before Herman Cain told reporters at his event in South Carolina that he was indeed making an announcement about his campaign’s future tomorrow, it was business as usual at the Cain campaign’s Iowa headquarters.

When an ABC News reporter walked into the Cain headquarters here just as news of the announcement was breaking, Cain’s Iowa communications director was looking at American Legion Halls for venues for the candidate’s upcoming bus tour here. Lisa Lockwood was not immediately aware of the news until told by the reporter, but she quickly contacted the national campaign who told her nothing official was planned.

“What I know is that we don’t know anything official here in Iowa,” Lockwood said. “I’ve talked to somebody from the national campaign and there’s nothing official that we know of.”

Inside the quiet campaign office in this suburb of Des Moines, Lockwood, Iowa campaign manager Larry Tuel, two other staffers and a few volunteers were working, but none seemed overly concerned about the news of Cain’s major announcement.

However, there wasn’t the usual sound of a busy thriving operation either, with volunteers making phone calls and staff rushing about. Yet Lockwood said they still have over 900 precinct captains secured for caucus day.

“It’s business as usual,” Lockwood explained. “Mark Block was here yesterday, the campaign manager. We had a great meeting with him, and he said the campaign is full steam ahead. We are going great guns in Iowa, Cain train is not stopping.”

However, the Cain Train may be headed for derailment if the pizza executive decides to end his campaign tomorrow.

Talking to reporters today Cain said his “wife and family comes first. I gotta take that into consideration.”

“I don’t doubt the support that I have. Just look at the people that are here. We gotta look at what happens to contributions and we gotta look at what ha– we gonna reevaluate the whole strategy. Tomorrow in Atlanta, I will be making an announcement. But nobody’s gonna get me to make that prematurely,” Cain said.

Lockwood said after the difficult week, in which new allegations arose from a Georgia businesswoman  that Cain had been involved in a 13-year affair, the Iowa campaign is “just trying to keep our heads above water and stay positive and focused until we hear otherwise.”

“We are hoping he stays in the campaign and does well in the caucuses here,” Lockwood said.

There’s no doubt that the sexual harassment allegations plaguing the candidate and several instances in which Cain did not seem to have a grasp on foreign policy have affected the campaign’s standing in the Hawkeye state.

Today the Des Moines Register gave a sneak peak of poll results that will be released Saturday evening and it showed Cain plummeting to 8 percent support of likely caucus-goers. Their last poll showed him at 23 percent in late October. During the second day of polling is when the affair scandal broke.

This news also didn’t seem to make the Iowa operation sweat. Lockwood quoted her former boss , former and current Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad: “The only poll that counts is the one on Election Day.”

“We are a long ways out from anything being for sure or ruled out or in. And one of the supporters today said something about, Look what happened with the Cardinals this year. They were never supposed to be the world champs in baseball so anything is possible,” Lockwood said. “We are working forward diligently, keeping up with plans to have Mr. Cain here quite a bit in the month of December leading up to the caucuses, and we are still experiencing a lot of support from people who have been with us all along. I’ve had this week only two people who have said they are no longer supporting Mr. Cain.”

Steve Grubbs, Cain’s Iowa Chairman, who is based in Davenport, not Urbandale, did not return calls for comment.

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