Cain Campaign: Of Course We're Sticking with Mark Block

Posted: Nov 10, 2011 3:00 PM

The Washington Times' Kerry Picket has the scoop -- Herman Cain is standing by his top strategist, despite a series of major mistakes:

Apparently, Block is staying put with the Cain campaign. A highly placed Cain source sent the Water Cooler an e-mail: "This is a hysterically funny rumor. The Inside the Beltway crowd is in the midst of a nervous breakdown regarding the success the Cain campaign is having with the American people. Mr. Cain believes in the old adage, 'You continue to dance with the one that brung ya' to the dance.'"

With all due respect to the Cain campaign, there is nothing "hysterically funny" about Block's high-profile missteps: (1) A not-for-profit organization Block co-owned and ran is accused of making illegal contributions to Cain's presidential campaign -- a finance scandal that hasn't gotten much attention with, um, sexier topics dominating headlines.  (2) In the heat of the sexual harassment scandal, Block appeared on national television and accused a specific Perry campaign operative of leaking the story to Politico.  He said Curt Anderson's supposed behavior was "an outrage" and demanded an apology from Perry's campaign.  When it became clear that Anderson was not the leaker, Block shrugged off his allegation and urged everyone to "move on."  After he'd walked back the accusation, he failed to inform his candidate, who subsequently leveled it again on national radio. (3) Block also botched a televised attempt to call accuser Karen Kraushaar's veracity into question.  Appearing on Hannity, Block claimed the campaign had "confirmed" that Kraushaar's son is a Politico reporter -- raising the spectre of a conflict of interest.  It was almost immediately revealed that the "son" in question is unrelated to Kraushaar, and does not write for Politico.  The campaign issued a "never mind" the next day.  As we later learned, there are at least a few facts that may cast some doubt on her story, but Block's sloppily invented 'gotcha' was not one of them.

Even if Herman Cain is completely innocent of everything he's of which he's been accused -- and the evidence is still out on that -- the decision to retain Mark Block's services as his chief of staff calls Cain's judgment into question.  "Inside the Beltway" conservatives are not having "nervous breakdowns" over Herman Cain's surge.  Some of us who are determined to defeat President Obama next year might indeed experience nervous breakdowns if a campaign run by Block goes up against the well-oiled and ruthless Axelrod/DNC machine in 2012.  I'd argue that if Cain's momentum continues, it will be in spite of Block's unprofessional and incompetent conduct, not because of his leadership. Loyalty is a laudable quality.  But loyalty to a fault is a bug, not a feature.  Herman Cain has said that some of his policy knowledge gaps shouldn't concern voters because as a private sector executive, he will surround himself with the very best people to advise him as president.  Mark Block may be a heck of a nice guy, but he has repeatedly demonstrated that he is nowhere near the very best when it comes to running a tight campaign ship.  His actions have been impulsive and reckless and have led to several debacles already.

This is a recipe for electoral disaster.  If Herman Cain is serious about being America's next president, he should have already fired or demoted Block.  He has not.  In fact, his campaign is emailing reporters about how hilarious that mere suggestion is.  That might make certain people feel good, since they're really stickin' it to the establishment and the media, or whatever, but this is not how successful campaigns are run.  The goal is not to stick it to anyone, or to feed anyone's political schadenfreude.  The goal is to win, and I do not see how keeping Block in his current position advances that goal.  What does that say about Herman Cain?

UPDATE - Ed Morrissey and Erick Erickson have some additional thoughts on this very subject.