With the Iowa caucuses — the first stage for candidates seeking the nomination to become President of the United States — taking place in less than a year, presidential candidate speculation is already running rampant. While Barack Obama is still popular within his party, the recent news that Hillary Clinton would not serve a second term in Obama’s cabinet is suggesting to pundits and voters that she may be launching a primary challenge against Obama. In the Republican Party, the big question is whether former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will launch a bid for President, and, of course, how viable a candidate former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney will be in his probable campaign. Palin and Romney both bring their baggage, and, while the GOP has plenty of great choices for 2016, the 2012 field seems light at best.
Unfortunately, most of the (few) candidates who could pull off a reasonably successful campaign are less-than-optimal choices to represent conservatism: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, and while he doesn’t stand a chance, Texas Congressman Ron Paul. While this may be discouraging news for many Republicans, it opens up the field for candidates who come from outside the political arena. While the most successful non-political candidate to launch a bid for the presidency was, of course, business mogul Ross Perot in 1992 (arguably Dwight D. Eisenhower wasn’t a politician, but had a long-standing military background,) we’re at a time now where Americans are so fed up with politicans that a candidate truly of the people, not the Beltway, may have the best shot at running the country.
This brings us to Herman Cain. Despite an unsuccessful bid for the United States Senate in 2004, Cain has demonstrated time and time again his ability to overcome the odds. As Jimmie Bise writes, “[Cain] took over Godfathers Pizza when it was on the verge of bankruptcy and helped turn it around into a profitable business. He’s used to taking on long odds and winning. I’ve a feeling that attitude is going to be very necessary in our next President, whoever that may be.”
Unlike Donald Trump, who seems to be toying with the idea of running for President as a publicity stunt, Cain’s exploratory committee has been testing the waters for quite a while now, and has even witnessed independent groups such as the “Draft Cain” movement pop up, which has representatives in every state attempting to recruit the successful businessman to run for President. As well, he was the winner of the Tea Party Straw Poll in February 2011, 6 points above runner-up Tim Pawlenty (as well as 12 and 15 points ahead of Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney, respectively.)
On an private call with conservative bloggers and representatives from right wing news outlets, Cain said of his ambitions, “My toe is no longer in the water. It’s all the way up to my neck.” And clearly, he’s been taking this potential candidacy quite seriously, as over the past few months, he’s made over 30 trips to Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada and Florida, early caucus and primary states in the nomination process. While name recognition may have been a problem last year, Cain has been shaking hands with the right people, speaking at the right events, and appearing on Fox every week it seems, which is more than can be said for any other potential candidate, save for Sarah Palin.
Herman Cain’s story and motivation for running for President is both moving and logical. Citing the birth of his first grandchild in 1999 as being when the seed of running for higher office was planted, Cain claims he asked himself “What do I do to make this a better world?” Further to that, he added that ambitions for one’s country are not about us, but about our grandchildren. As well, Cain overcame Stage IV cancer in 2006 when given a 30% chance of survival. After chemo, surgery, and more chemo, he stands today cancer free, his resilience, his wife of 42 years along with their children, and his faith in God having guided him through it all.
In terms of policy, Herman Cain is an unashamed conservative, and an unapologetic Christian. He is the only potential presidential contender to 2012 to have stood publicly in support of Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) and he’s been a favorite at CPAC, and consistently within the Tea Party movement. As far as specific platform ideas, Cain not only said he would lower the corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%, but also pledged to, if he ever becomes president, eliminate the Capital Gains Tax all together. This is strong talk that hasn’t been heard from anyone in the GOP establishment, nor outside of it.
Given his blatant conservatism, I think a Cain candidacy could finally put to bed the myth that electability is more important than ideology when it comes to political candidates. Herman Cain has yet to officially put his hat in the ring, and whether or not he will remains to be seen. However, Mr. Cain is a refreshing personality who remains diametrically the opposite of the one thing Americans don’t need at this time: A politician.