There Is No Herman Cain Campaign For The Presidency

At least not one capable of actually winning primaries or caucuses:

In early October, as Herman Cain caught fire in national polls and began to climb into the first tier of the Republican presidential race, the ex-CEO turned insurgent candidate puzzled political observers by diverting his campaign to promote a book entitled This is Herman Cain! My Journey to the White House. Cain’s critics alleged that his publicity tour wasn’t really about selling the idea of a Cain Presidency to voters, but rather peddling motivational pamphlets-“Leadership Requires Leadership” is available for $5 at “The Herminator Experience” website—and inflating the value of his services on the speaking circuit.

A series of interviews with key party figures may lend further credence to this charge. Well-connected GOP operatives in New Hampshire, Florida and South Carolina say they see little or no evidence of Cain’s campaign in those key early primary states, and some are even unable to name who is leading his localized efforts just a little more than two months before voters are expected to cast the first ballots.

“There is no sense of a tangible organization that you can point to,” says Rich Killion, an uncommitted GOP strategist in New Hampshire, who’s unsure of the location of Cain’s Granite State base of operations, or even if there is one. “If you said, ‘Rich, tell me who is running the effort here?’ I could not even give you that person.” Matt Murphy, Cain’s original state director, resigned in June.

“There is good will towards him, but there is almost no organization to speak of,” says Fergus Cullen, a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party. “If there is a local group who wanted to invite him to speak, it is unclear whom to call. I gather that they are adding staff and ramping up, but the primary is in two and a half months.”

A prominent Republican operative in Florida says the Cain campaign is similarly invisible in his state. “If somebody called here and asked to volunteer for Cain, I would not know whom to talk to,” he says. Cain won a major Florida straw poll in late September, but he’s been largely absent ever since. “He came and worked the crowd. He got a few state reps. to endorse him” and then he left, the operative says. “It boggles the mind. I don’t know any of the usual suspects who have been called, asked or much less hired. There is no grassroots. The guys in key counties, none of them are getting talked to.”

“We see nothing to resemble a real campaign,” says another GOP operative, who is based in South Carolina and knows of only one Cain staffer there.  According to him, both of South Carolina’s U.S. Senators and one member of its House delegation sought assistance with reaching out to Cain, but the strategist said he’s been unable to get the campaign to respond.

There are just over two months to go before Iowans go to their caucus locations. Is it possible that Cain can pull together some kind of ground operation between now and then? Maybe, but it seems to be incredibly unlikely to me and the fact that he’s not really making any moves to capitalize on his rise in the polls makes one wonder exactly what he thinks he’s doing here.

H/T: Andrew Sullivan

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, The Presidency, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Console says:

    I kinda want Cain to win just so it could turn the political world and what everyone thought they knew about campaigning on it’s head. It would be a fun experiment.

  2. de stijl says:

    Is it possible that Cain can pull together some kind of ground operation between now and then?

    Short answer – No.

    (All of the pros were locked up long, long ago. It’s possible he could poach some professionals from other campaign staffs or get some defections from dead campaigns, but the bottom tier candidates are always going to go all-in on IA and NH so the chance is slim. It is very late in the game in Iowa and so far Cain has shown zero appetite for retail politics and it looks like he doesn’t have the war chest to go the wholesale route.)

    makes one wonder exactly what he thinks he’s doing here


    (Answered in the first paragraph of your quote: like Gingrich, selling books and jacking up his future speaking fees.)

  3. To me, it’s kinda pathetic. Not that he’s got no real campaign, but that it hasn’t hurt him. In fact, the people voting for him in these polls think of it as a GOOD thing! “I like a man who’s totally incompetent to be my President!”

  4. ponce says:

    Maybe CEO Cain has decided that all the amoral grifters that make up the ranks of “professional” Republican campaign executives aren’t really necessary.

  5. Peterh says:

    I hear Ed Rollins might be available……but I think ponce just answered that question….

  6. PD Shaw says:

    The pithy description in the title captures the essence of the issue.

  7. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Herman Cain??

  8. Jay Tea says:

    Sigh… lemme ‘splain you things, and without going into motivations or intentions, but based purely on actions.

    Romney is the GOP establishment chosen one. He has to win. His victory has to be seen as inevitable — after the token upstarts have been dealt with, to avoid the too-obvious coronation.

    With that goal in light, Doug’s postings fall perfectly in line. He, the self-proclaimed rebel and outsider who’s disgusted with the establishment, is one by one going after each of Romney’s opponents, dismissing them as “not serious” or “not credible” or “pulling a scam.” Meanwhile, Romney — the embodiment of so much of the GOP he says he can’t stand — is constantly pronounced as “the only serious one” or “the inevitable winner.”

    And as part of the establishment’s plans for Romney, they sew up enough of the political pros that they can say that none of the other candidates have any of the “serious” campaign vets and operatives, so obviously they are not seriously trying to win and have no chance even if they did.

    Which leaves challengers few options. One of which is to simply dump what all the pros say you have to do in order to win, and run an entirely different kind of campaign. Ignore the pros and their conventional wisdom, and simply wing it. And make damned sure voters know that’s what you’re doing.

    The chances of success like that are damned slim. But they’re still better than taking on the establishment at its own game — which they have carefully and thoroughly rigged in their favor. Challenging them — and their guy Romney — at that game is a guaranteed loss. If you’re playing poker against someone who’s stacked the deck, the only chance you have to win is to play completely at random. Playing the cards you’re dealt is a sure loss. Trash a full house? If you know the other guy has four of a kind, why not?

    And why not play the game anyway, and let Romney win? Because he’s not likely to beat Obama. George Will called him a Republican Michael Dukakis, and there’s a lot of truth in that. He’s also a lot like Bob Dole and John McCain. And all three lost.

    One of the biggest problems is that with Romney, there’s simply no passion for him. And in pretty much every race since 1972 (and that was an oddball one), the candidate that arouses the most passion in their supporters wins. Fresh, new Carter vs. Ford. Old, tired, loser Carter vs.Reagan. Reagan vs. Mondale. 1988 was almost a wash, but slightly less bland Bush beat utterly cold fish Dukakis. Clinton beat Bush. Clinton beat Dole. Bush beat Gore (another close one). War President Bush beat Kerry. And Obama beat McCain (although Palin did a hell of a lot towards closing the gap).

    Doug, say what you want about your positions, your beliefs, your stances, your feelings. I’m talking about what you post. And the pattern over the past year or so is clear: you’ve systematically gone after each GOP candidate who’s posed a threat to Romney, while leaving him alone and proclaiming him the inevitable winner. And as far as your libertarian beliefs… you’ve got two libertarian champions in the race, and you give them seriously short shrift.

    Actions speak louder than words. Your actions put you firmly in the hip pocket of the GOP establishment, doing their leg work for them.

    If nothing else, you’re convincing to take a good, long look at Romney. And as a neighbor of his who’s been exposed to him for years, I have what I consider a… good perspective.


  9. Jay,

    Your comment reminds me that my monthly check from the GOP Establishment is, once again, late. Bastards.

  10. @Jay Tea:

    The libertarian champions in the race have no chance of winning, and I recognize that. Herman Cain is not one of those champions

  11. Jay Tea says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Doug, I deliberately made no aspersions as to your motives, just noted the pattern. Lord knows I’ve said the same thing about my checks from the neocon grand conspiracy.

    You wanna show me where I’m wrong, show where you’ve seriously slammed Romney or said something supportive of another candidate, I’ll be glad to look.

    Alternately, look past your own inclusion and see the overall point. The GOP establishment is doing all it can to make sure Cain can’t win — or anyone besides Romney. In response, why wouldn’t Cain just totally wing it? Why should he play by their rules, when Rule One is “Romney wins?”

    If nothing else, Doug, it makes the race interesting…


  12. Boyd says:

    Jay, I think you misinterpret Doug’s posts on the GOP race. He’s providing analysis, not supporting (or denigrating) any particular candidate based on his own preferences. Much of the basis for Doug’s posts are observing the polls and other news about the Republican candidates and commenting on the situation.

    I’m no political expert by far, but it would be amazing to me if Cain actually made some headway, but his lack of focus (or even knowledge) about anything but the economy make him pretty unserious, in my estimation. Then add his lack of pursuit of votes in caucuses and primaries so far, and he appears even more unserious.

    As Doug said, Cain could start doing things which could advance his candidacy. He has shown exactly zero propensity to take steps toward campaigning beyond showing up for debates and advocating his untenable 9-9-9 plan, so Doug (and I, for that matter) don’t see him lasting much longer. I think Perry has more of a chance of competing with Romney than Cain has, and I don’t think even Perry has much of a chance.

    I’ve seen others, who tend to agree with me to some extent politically, confuse my analysis with advocacy. I think you’re doing the same with Doug.

  13. Bdubb says:

    Hey Jay Tea, Mr long message, your then doing in turn what you accuse the Romney campaign conspiracy wants you to do by writing such a long excerpt on your stupid theory of the Romney campaign’s conspiracy. You idiot! There is no conspiracy. It’s as simple as Herman Cain does not have a very well organized campaign. He has a lot of speeches and he’s been on fox a lot. But he just isn’t out there doing the hard work. He doesn’t seem to have the volunteer effort out there really pushing for Herman. It’s the rule of cause and effect. Someone that works hard and has a better organization has a better turn out. Also, it’s nerve racking to see Cain’s lack of organization when he is being considered to be the guy we NEED to beat Obama. Obama has over 90 million in the bank and he is going to be very very difficult to beat. I don’t want to chance Obama winning again by placing all my money on guy like Cain that appears to be lacking in organization. It’s scary and it brings up serious question of Cain’s elect-ability in a general election. Oh and the fact that you claim to be Mitt’s neigbor holds no ground. He has like 10 different houses all over the US and you probably barely see the guy, big deal! geeeees get real!

  14. kaitlinc says:

    I guess that “Outside the Beltway” doesn’t get outside often enough! Atlantans don’t doubt that Herman is very serious about running for President. For one thing, Herman is a big believer in “taking it to the people” instead of having a number of professional handlers and speaking according to the latest opinion polls. He has a reasonable distrust of the media as well. Secondly, until recently he had little financial backing. When you realize that he was ahead of Romney while his finances were a small percentage compared to Romney OR Perry, it is a testament to his likeable personality and his unshakeable belief in his ability to turn this economy around.

    Mr. Cain has had a few awkward moments since his rise to the top of the polls, but I have watched (and listened to his radio show) for years, and he is NOT a flip-flopper. He is simply not experienced in dealing with the two-faced trickery of the liberal media who do whatever possible to trick candidates into a 5-second audio that makes them look foolish or hypocritical. Honestly, I’m not sure this country is ready for Herman. They try to read all sorts of motives into him because they can’t believe that he is just the real deal.

    If he begins to win primaries, the RNC will be forced to grudgingly back him, but they have been determined to push Romney despite the continuing high performance of Herman Cain in the public opinion. Yes he Cain!

  15. anjin-san says:

    just noted the pattern.

    You mean the “The President should be rational, have a basic grasp of civics and how the government works and not be a religious fanatic” pattern?

  16. anjin-san says:

    The GOP establishment is doing all it can to make sure Cain can’t win

    You mean yet another conservative is gasp… a victim???

    You poor, poor people. The entire world and yes, the heavens themselves are arrayed against you.

  17. G.A.Phillips says:

    Herman Cain
    The pundits say I have had a tough week. The people say we’re about to hit 300,000 fans and nearly 2,000 people have donated to my campaign today alone. Share this with your friends and/or donate. Do what you can do and together we can renew the USA.

    From my Facebook friend like 7 hours ago.

  18. Boyd says:

    Time will tell, right?

  19. Jay Tea says:

    @anjin-san: You mean yet another conservative is gasp… a victim???

    Cain, a victim? Surely you jest.

    One cannot be a “victim” without one’s consent. And Cain does not consent to be a victim. He understands what is being done, and is fighting back. He neither wants nor needs sympathy.


  20. @G.A.Phillips: LOL, yeah, Facebook is going to win you Iowa and New Hampshire. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney has 1,146,954 likes on his Facebook page.

  21. Mr. Prosser says:

    @Timothy Watson: Great observation, Tim.

  22. anjin-san says:

    and is fighting back

    Really? How? With commercials so bizarre they play like satire done by someone on drugs?

    One cannot be a “victim” without one’s consent

    I guess you have forgotten the sad tale of Sarah Victim.

  23. Jay Tea says:

    @anjin-san: Well, they got Doug to post about the commercial, and got you and a bunch of others to comment. And as I noted, Doug doesn’t waste much time on lost causes — he focuses his attacks on those who pose a credible threat to Romney. Or, rather, “the leading GOP candidates who are not Mitt Romney.”

    Good return on investment.

    Unless, you prefer more mindless pap like “Yes! We! Can!” — which I suspect you do.


  24. anjin-san says:

    Well, they got Doug to post about the commercial, and got you and a bunch of others to comment.

    Having people all over America talking about Cain being a joke is not really a win.

    Unless, of course, his only goal is self-promotion.

  25. G.A.Phillips says:

    : LOL, yeah, Facebook is going to win you Iowa and New Hampshire. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney has 1,146,954 likes on his Facebook page.

    He is leading in Iowa and just started asking for donations on Rush’s show, bought adds and in all 57 states:)

    Very smart dude…

  26. @G.A.Phillips: You know that Romney has raised over six times the amount that Cain has, right?

  27. Jeremy says:


    We have 57 states?

    (Sorry, but I had to.)

  28. Jon says:

    Great to see. Cains just selling books. What i find strange, On real clear politics, Cains 2nd or 1st in the early states??? Who exactly are they polling? So Cains not campaigning, He really does not have the donations to campaign.

    Perry?? He supported Gore. The base doesn’t want anything that even resembles a democrat. Hes soft on immigration. He has money on his side. Maybe.

    Romney? Hes a Mormon. Romneycare? Another who resembles a democrat. Hes not campaigning much in South Carolina or Iowa. Maybe, But i doubt it.

    Newt Gingrich? Adulterer.. On his 3rd marriage. As a Christian, That DQ`s him in my book. Not exactly good on fundraising. Lets face it, Hes selling books like black walnut.

    Bachmann, Santorum, Huntsman, Johnson?? Yeah right.

    Ron Paul? I could see it happening. The republican base HATES Obama. Hes he only one that`s different. The only difference between the rest of them and obama? Taxes, Abortions and healthcare.

  29. Jon says:

    @Timothy Watson:

    Yeah from 100 bankers.

  30. Liberty says:


    Hi Jon:

    It’s amazing to me how people after seeing Cain’s commercial that he still has supporters. What’s his message? As we know, smoking causes cancer and other devastating diseases. His campaign leader really has no clue. If silence with no issues to run on other than the 999 plan, which when closely looked at WILL increase everyones taxes will help him get elected he’s sadly mistaken. He doesn’t include in his plan state and local taxes. So we start with 27% in taxes if you own a business. Noone trusts the government to keep the sales tax at 9%.
    Lets look closer at Herman Cain since, the conservative and main stream media don’t bring to the attention of voters his past history. Cain was involved in a company similar to Enron which when it went belly up it took many of its investors money with them. Well, this energy contract trading company was known as Aquila. He sat on the Board of Directors and it’s shareholders sued all of the Board Members and rightfully so. And, they lost.
    Next, he lied during a debate when a question was asked of him if he would audit the Fed. He was caught on u-tube saying that the Fed doesn’t need to be audited because it has enough internal checks and balances. The biggest reason why our money is being devalued, distributed world wide, funding bailouts,and the stimulus is a direct result of the Fed. There is no oversight by Congress and it needs to be eliminated and audited. But, Hermain Cain a former Fed Board member will never agree to do this to his former employer.


  31. Bill Goode says:

    @Console: The operation of this country is not an experiment. This is not some prank that someone might play. This is the livelihood of 308 million American citizens we are dealing with. You don’t go experimenting around with that. You don’t experiment with other people’s lives. You study the candidates and the issues. You make a decision and vote. You don’t experiment.

  32. Jon says:

    @Liberty: True. But it is actually a good thing Cain is still in the race. Cain, Perry, Romney, Gingrich, Huntsman, Santorum are all spreading the irrelevant establishment votes amongst their self`s. Its a good thing there are so many establishment candidates in this race, Unlike 2007. If Bachmann and Johnson dropped out, It would be good for Ron Paul, He would get their votes. Throughout the whole race Ron Paul has been polling between 8-14% nationally, Same position Mccain was in 2007. He has a very good shot at getting the nomination. Also, Try to remember the tea party makes up 50% of the republican voting population. Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul are the only true tea partiers in the race. They will not accept Romney, Perry, Gingrich, Cain. No freaking way.

  33. Kate says:


    Cain Used Campaign Funds to Buy Autobiography From His Company

    Herman Cain Is The Koch Brothers� Presidential Candidate

  34. Timbo says:


    Cain may not be a flip flopper, but that doesn’t mean he is isn’t totally misguided in his beliefs and policies……. try not to take this comment too personally as this is also the case for most of the other candidates. I mean 9-9-9 is a nonsense and the guy admits not too having a clue on many major issues, as if this candid and hokey attitude is somehow endearing.

    The only reason that an individual like Cain has even been noticed is due to the paucity of politically viable republican candidates. I mean the Democrats have done absolutely everything they possibly can to hand them the presidency and the only candidate they can realistically engineer is Romney! Its hysterical really…… the guy is a republican lite closet democrat who is almost impossible to trust. At best Romney should be a gate keeper at these primaries. I mean the amount of disaffected democrats and independents desperate to be picked up and the Republicans just completely drop the ball and stump for a guy who just parrots Obama’s policy positions. His only plus point it seems is that he’s not Obama, but is that really going to cut it? Obviously its not his fault that he’s in the firing line and its been obvious that the Republican establishment have been desperate to find a conservative hero but first Bachman then Perry have been shot full of holes. Talk about grasping at straws with these two.

    The closer we get to the primaries the more it seems that Ron Paul will take the number two spot despite all the marginalizing. Quite frankly I can’t get my head around how a guy who raises so much money particularly from individual donors can poll as low as he does….. it just doesn’t make sense to me. The guy invokes more passion and commitment then practically all the other candidates put together. Now that I think about it maybe RP has been the reason these other flimsy conservative candidates haven’t stood a chance. Hmmmm? He has undoubtedly shone a very bright light on them at it seems all have tried to steal his lines and not look too contrived in the process, despite failing. Anyway the last thing the Republican party want is this guy, so its back to Romney. My feeling is that they might as well crown Obama now.

    p.s. will be interesting what effect RP has if he runs as a third party candidate. With no choice offered from the two parties with their candidate ‘Barack Romney’ he really could do some serious damage…….