ATLANTA, Ga. — To help Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich pull off a needed win in Georgia, former candidate Herman Cain stepped onto Gingrich’s campaign bus Saturday to ride along for all three campaign events of the day and introduce the candidate, whom he endorsed in January, at each stop.
Cain had an idea or two for his friend of 16 years, and Gingrich listened.
“113-4.2-4″ might not be as catchy as “9-9-9,” but Gingrich said Saturday at a campaign stop that after inspiration from Cain, he’s going to be pitching his own numbers and comparing them to President Obama’s.
“Something I frankly got from listening to Herman, if you take $1.13 gasoline and 4.2 percent unemployment and a balanced federal budget, you realize those things were all facts,” Gingrich said. “That’s a pretty nice contrast to Barack Obama.”
Though Gingrich has touted low gas prices, the unemployment rate and a balanced budget from when he was speaker of the House in the 1990s on nearly every campaign stop since Iowa, Saturday he changed his “stump” speech to tell the audience he had several numbers he wanted them to remember.
But it seemed Gingrich had trouble remembering the complicated numbers himself, when at his third stop he recited the numbers again, but with a long pause between 113 and 4.2.
The pair did two press conferences together. At the first, Cain walked up and stood behind Gingrich.
“Come up here,” Gingrich said to him. After Gingrich’s invitation, Cain even chipped in to help his friend answer a question.
When Gingrich was asked why GOP candidates Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney didn’t want to debate him in Georgia, Gingrich said, “You can go ask them. I have no idea why they won’t come debate.”
“Can I give an answer?” Cain asked. “I believe that his people knew that Speaker Gingrich was not going to have three weak debate performances. Now he didn’t have a weak debate performance, an average debate performance for Newt Gingrich is still better than most people, and he they knew he was probably going to be on his A-game, so they would rather not take that one.”
Cain also interjected his opinion when Gingrich was asked what cabinet position he might have for Cain.
“My ideal job with a Speaker Newt Gingrich as president of the United States is to be a senior adviser, not in charge of anything. That’s what I would want to do in a Gingrich administration,” Cain said.
Cain said he has a couple pieces of advice for Gingrich as he continues on the campaign trail. He told Gingrich that the next time he has a “smack down” with the media at a debate, that his point would be made even better if he would smile when he’s done.
Cain said one thing he and Gingrich discussed on the bus was making Gingrich’s message more specific.
“This is what people want to hear,” Cain said. “This is why I was glad to hear him talk about the $2.50 a gallon gasoline. Specificity about national security, specificity about creating jobs, so specificity of message is one thing that we’ve talked about, you know, just today.”
Cain was questioned if Gingrich had not been specific enough with his message so far.
“He has been moving in that direction, but we wanted to accelerate it,” Cain said.
Gingrich said he put Cain on the phone with one of his advisers to teach him how to be “clear and simple.”
“Let me say quite cheerfully I think Herman is a better salesman than I am. I think he has a much better sense of marketing than I do and we had a great — we had a lot of fun on our way over,” Gingrich said.
Throughout the day when Cain was on the stump, he went into moments of being a candidate again, talking about “9-9-9,” and even throwing out a few “aw-shucky-ducky!” yells to the crowd.
“I’m still working on him,” he said. “When he comes out you could say, Newt, Newt, Newt, 9-9-9.”
Toward the end of his speeches, Cain brought the message back around to Gingrich, telling the large, enthusiastic crowds: “Contrary to what the mainstream, lame-stream media says, he can actually pull it out.”
Cain elevated Gingrich’s enthusiasm, adding some new excitement the day-to-day campaigning a candidate can often become complacent with. The pair walked out of a stage door after an event at a high school, where an enthusiastic and cheering mob ran to both candidates. Cain embraced the supporters with his enthusiasm and big smile seen early on the trail at the start of his candidacy. Gingrich, the rarely physical campaigner, gave out hugs, too.