Cain Can't

Rich Galen

12/5/2011 4:22:00 PM - Rich Galen

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Herman Cain suspended his campaign for the Republican nomination for President.

I personally believe that, from the beginning, the Cain campaign was a fraud - designed not to present new ideas and a personal vision for the nation, but to sell books and raise his speaking fees.

It is tiresome, but useful, to consider that in the early part of the 21st century in the United States of America there is no difference between famous and being infamous - thus Herman Cain may well have attained his goal.

The most recent polls in Iowa show Cain with the support of about eight percent of Republicans. The question has to be: Who are those people?

They knew about the multiple claims of sexual harassment. They probably knew about the 13-year affair. But those (as we learned in the 90s) are not in and of themselves disqualifiers. They probably should be, but they're not.

What absolutely should have disqualified Herman Cain from ever having been considered a serious candidate was his Jay-Leno-in-the-Street lack of knowledge about almost anything dealing with national policy.

He didn't know China had a nuclear capability. He had no idea what President Obama had, or hadn't done in Libya. After being caught out with not knowing that, he didn't understand that Tripoli is 3,000 miles from Kabul and said the Taliban was infiltrating the new Libyan government.

His 9-9-9 plan was simple enough for him to have memorize - it is, after all, three syllables - but when he began to rise in the polls and had to defend it, he seemed to have no idea it would pile a federal sales tax on top of state and local sales taxes already in place.

His answer to every hypothetical question ("What would a Cain administration do about …") his answer was approximately the same: "I would get smart people to tell me what would work, and then I would do that."

He said it so charmingly, and disarmingly, that he got away with it for far too long.

Cain made the announcement that he is "suspending" his campaign.

So, the Cain Train has been moved off the main line and onto a soon-to-be forgotten siding. Where does his support go?

The Washington Post reminded readers of "A Pew poll conducted before Thanksgiving showed that Cain supporters split evenly between the former Massachusetts governor and Gingrich when asked for their second choice."

I think it helps Gingrich more, in that there is one fewer non-Romney voice to muddle up the conservative side of the discussion. Assuming Cain's supporters don't suddenly bolt for Rick Santorum or Ron Paul, it will help Gingrich.

There were two polls released in Iowa over the weekend. One, by the Des Moines Register had Gingrich leading with 25 percent of the vote; Ron Paul second with 18 percent and Romney third with 16 percent. Sixty percent of the respondents said they might still change their minds.

An NBC/Marist poll, showed similar results: Gingrich leading with 26 percent, Romney second with 18 and Paul with 17.

There is always a question about how the Iowa caucuses (set for January 3, 2012) will turn out in relation to the advance polling. Gingrich didn't open his first office in Iowa until November 30; Santorum has an organization in all 99 counties, and Ron Paul is reported to have the best phone list in the race.

We'll know the answer to that in 29 days.

Whatever happens it will happen without Herman Cain. His name will still be on ballots through the primary season, but his campaign is over.