The Herman Cain Conundrum (The Note)

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone ) and AMY WALTER ( @amyewalter )

It’s Herman Cain’s world these days and we’re all just living in it.

The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO’s rivals may criticize his 9-9-9 economic plan, but they are also incorporating one of its central tenants, like a flat tax, into their own economic plans (here’s looking at you, Rick Perry.)

Meanwhile another poll out today shows the Hermanator riding high — in yet another key state. A Quinnipiac University poll of Republican voters in Ohio has Cain up five points over GOP rival Mitt Romney. Note that Ohio is a Super Tuesday state.

Cain’s anti-establishment message resonates strongly in a year where Congressional approval has reached a new low at 9 percent.

“Not only do 89 percent of Americans say they distrust government to do the right thing, but 74 percent say the country is on the wrong track and 84 percent disapprove of Congress — warnings for Democrats and Republicans alike,” The Times’ Jeff Zeleny and Megan Thee-Brennan write.

Even so, it’s shocking how Cain has stolen that outsider narrative from Perry, who once went so far as to joke about secession.

“There is a zero-sum relationship between how well Cain and Perry do. A large chunk of the new Cain support is coming from former supporters of the Texas governor,” said Quinnipiac pollster Peter Brown.

And yet conservatives are wary of Cain’s three favorite numbers — 9-9-9.

“Americans by a 20-point margin, 56-36 percent, hold an unfavorable opinion of the 9-9-9 plan. And intensity runs against the idea: it’s seen “strongly” unfavorably rather than strongly favorably by a 3-1 margin, 35 percent vs. 12 percent,” according to ABC News pollster Gary Langer.

Cain loves to mock the establishment and “stupid people,” as he did once again last night in an appearance in Texas. Both are great applause lines on the trail. But, while he’s doing a great job channeling frustration with DC, he will ultimately need to prove to voters that he can fix it.


On “World News” last night, ABC’s John Berman explored the curious case of Herman Cain. WATCH:



PERRY LAUNCHES FIRST TV ADS IN IOWA. “Rick Perry’s first ad campaign in Iowa of the election cycle carries a positive tone, focusing on the Texas governor’s job creation record while promising to produce at least two and a half million jobs,” ABC’s Arlette Saenz reports. “‘As President, I’ll create at least two and a half million new jobs — and I know something about that,” Perry says in the ad, which will run in Iowa starting Wednesday. The ad touts Perry’s Texas job creation record and reiterates some of the themes in of the energy plan he unveiled two weeks ago, which aims to expand drilling oil and gas fields, eliminate regulations which impede the production of domestic energy and make American energy independent. ‘In Texas, we’ve created over one million new jobs while the rest of the nation lost over two million. I’ll start by opening American oil and gas fields. I’ll eliminate President Obama’s regulations that hurt other sources of domestic energy like coal and natural gas. That will create jobs and reduce our reliance on oil from countries that hate America,’ Perry says in the ad.” WATCH:


ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”: JON HUNTSMAN. ABC’s Rick Klein and Amy Walter interview Robert Mann, a Louisiana State University professor who is an expert in political advertising. Mann is the author of “Daisy Petals and Mushroom Clouds: LBJ, Barry Goldwater and the Ad that Changed American Politics.” Also on the program, Jonathan Karl’s interview with Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman.   Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern.  

@ abcgregory : Tune into  #TopLine today for our interview with  @jonhuntsman



PAUL RYAN TO SLAM OBAMA ON ‘POLITICS OF DIVISION’ “With just over a year until Election Day 2012, a nasty rivalry that’s only amplified by a bitterly divided and polarized Congress is set to explode and the fireworks won’t stop until the voters have had their say,” reports ABC’s John R. Parkinson. “As President Obama travels across the country to campaign for reelection telling his donors “we can’t wait,” the president has dogged Congress as obstructionists to the change he had hoped to deliver with his 2008 landslide election. Republicans, on the other hand, say the president and Democratic Party “don’t have much of a record to run on” and assert that Democrats have been “unwilling to govern,” citing 900 days without a budget in the Senate as an example of inaction. This morning at 10:00 a.m., House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan will deliver remarks at the conservative think-tank, the Heritage Foundation, where according to excerpts of his speech, Ryan will “challenge the politics of division, pitting Americans against each other, preying on the emotions of fear and envy.”

OBAMA’S 2012 WESTERN STRATEGY FOCUSES ON HISPANICS. “In 2008, Barack Obama became only the second Democratic presidential candidate in 40 years to win Colorado, thanks in large part to strong support from the state’s Hispanic voters, who turned out in droves. Sixty-one percent of Hispanics chose Obama over Republican Sen. John McCain, while just 50 percent of whites voted the same, according to the Pew Hispanic Center,” ABC’s Devin Dwyer notes. “Obama’s campaign team says Hispanic voters will be even more essential to winning the Rocky Mountain state in 2012, a point underscored by the president’s second visit here in less than a month and an elaborate effort to engage Hispanics more than a year before they can hit the polls. Obama headlines a rally at the University of Denver later today, when he will stump for his jobs plan and steps meant to make college more accessible to younger Americans eager to build their careers. But while Colorado’s unemployment rate stands at 8.3 percent, Obama’s pitch will be not only about the future but what he believes his economic policies have accomplished over the past three years, particularly for key constituencies like Hispanics. Over the past few weeks as Obama has traveled the country to sell his jobs bill, the White House and Obama Campaign have distributed fact sheets and talking points for Hispanic audiences, insisting the president’s economic policies have kept 1.9 million Latinos out of poverty, provided 150,000 additional Hispanic students with access to college, and made strides toward comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act.”

ROMNEY HEADS TO THE HILL. “Mitt Romney has been courting Rep. Aaron Schock for months now. He even showed up as a surprise guest to celebrate the Illinois Republican’s 30th birthday over what Schock described as “heavy hors d’oeuvres” at a private residence in downtown Chicago in May,” Politico’s Jonathan Allen reports. “But Schock, one of about a dozen House members attending a meeting with Romney Wednesday, is still on the fence. … Most of the lawmakers POLITICO reached out to for this story declined to be interviewed — even meeting with a candidate can unintentionally give the impression of an endorsement. But it’s an opportunity for Romney to make his case directly to a small group of lawmakers who are at least open to his message. Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-Ill.) “is looking forward to meeting Gov. Romney and hearing what he has to say about getting our financial house in order and our economy back on track,” his spokeswoman Andrea Pivarunas said. The meeting was put together by announced Romney supporters who reached out to undecided Republicans. The list of lawmakers is being closely held by the Romney campaign, but several moderates from big states are expected to attend to hear Romney’s pitch for an endorsement.”

RON PAUL SPENDS $1 MILLION ON CHARTER FLIGHTS. “Rep. Ron Paul hasn’t led his Republican rivals in the polls this election season, but he has led in one category: spending on charter flights,” reports ABC’s Jason Volack. “ABC News and the Center of Responsive Politics have crunched the numbers and you might be surprised to know that the U.S. Congressman that just recently released a tax plan cutting $1 trillion from the federal budget has spent close to $1 million on charter flights. Paul has far outspent his nearest rival Michele Bachmann, who logged receipts totaling $439,000 on charter fights. And despite raising vastly more than Paul, Mitt Romney has only spent a third of what Paul has on charter flights: around $300,000 to $400,000. Romney has tweeted about his penchant for flying commercial on low-cost air carrier Southwest Airlines, and in 2010 he flew coach with ABC News’ John Berman. Unlike Romney — or most of the Republican field — Paul still has a day job. He’s been running his campaign while still serving as a U.S. Congressman from Texas. Still, Paul has visited Iowa almost weekly and has made numerous trips to other early voting states like New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, and Nevada.”

HERMAN CAIN’S BACK TAXES. “Herman Cain, the multimillionaire businessman who has made tax fairness a central part of his surging presidential campaign, missed paying his state income taxes for 2006 while undergoing treatment for cancer, prompting Georgia to file a tax lien against him that wasn’t settled until late 2008,” The Daily Beast’s Daniel Stone notes. “The Republican’s campaign late Tuesday confirmed the lien, portraying the unpaid taxes as an oversight while Cain was undergoing cancer treatment and the state’s lien as an excessive response that shows the need for tax reform. ‘The experience serves as an example of how broken our federal and state bureaucracies are with respect to the collection of revenue,’ Cain campaign spokesman J.D. Gordon told The Beast. ‘The entire process is driven by automated letters generated in response to deadlines.’ According to court documents obtained by The Beast, Cain and his wife, Gloria, were served in February 2008 with a tax lien totaling $8,558.46 for unpaid income taxes and penalty due for the 2006 calendar year. Gordon said Cain had filed with the IRS and won a six-month reprieve in paying his 2006 federal taxes as he was undergoing his treatment for stage four lymphoma and believed that filing should also have bought him time with the state of Georgia.”


–”The Bipartisan Policy Center will launch a bipartisan Housing Commission today at a press conference in Washington, D.C. at 1:00PMET. Today’s press conference follows this week’s announcement of a new Obama Administration proposal that will make it easier for many American homeowners to refinance their mortgages.” Attendees include, former Secretaries of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros and Mel Martinez, former Sen. Kit Bond, and former Senate Majority Leader and BPC Founder George Mitchell. The event will also be webcast live here:



@ JimMerrillNH : Happy 63rd birthday today to  #NH SOS Bill Gardner. Perhaps you’ve heard of him?  #FITN

@ joshhafner : My interview with  @TheHermanCain from Today’s  @DMRegister:…  #IAcaucus

@ MattMackowiak : MACKOWIAK: Makers, takers and occupiers – Washington Times: via  @washtimes

@ samsteinhp : Obama’s disastrous regulatory regime doesn’t add up. He’s approved fewer regulations than G W Bush

@ JohnFeehery : In my humble opinion, Romney needs to take a dramatic step to reassure that reluctant base.



* Mitt Romney visits the GOP Victory Center at Fairfax County GOP Headquarters in Fairfax, Va..

* Rick Perry holds three fundraisers in Florida.

* Herman Cain makes an appearance at the Nueses County Republican Women meeting in Corpus Christi, Tex.

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