Cain Feels Pain After 'Politico' Report
The Georgia businessman's lack of elected experience may be bad omen.
Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain could show that when it comes to running for the White House, experience winning elections matter.
The Georgia Republican was arguably one of the biggest surprises in the Republican race for the White House, winning a Florida straw poll and taking the lead in many national opinion surveys. That was a marked change from earlier this year when Cain visited Jefferson City, a time when he was an also-ran in the GOP field.
But on Sunday, Cain’s campaign was rocked to the core by a Politico article that reported two women complained about Cain’s behavior during his tenure at the National Restaurant Association. The story, heavily infused with anonymous sources, touched off a firestorm that’s threatening to crash Cain’s campaign.
Throughout the melee, Roll Call reporter Shira Toeplitz might have made the most astute observation. In a Tweet, Toeplitz wrote “candidates like Cain -- businessmen w/ little political exp -- are campaign oppo researchers dream. Betcha we'll see more by week's end.”
And Slate columnist Dave Wiegel took things a step further when he Tweeted that he was starting “to doubt that the former pizza company CEO who has never won an election will become president in 2013.”
"Mitt Romney is dully, ploddingly doing exactly what he needs to win this campaign," Wiegel wrote on Wendesday. "And then we have campaign No. 2. A tag team of quotable, viral-video-ready TV stars are taking turns as frontrunners."
Both Toeplitz and Wiegel were at least touching on a worthy point: Candidates who’ve previously won election to office are much more likely to win their party’s presidential nominations than virtual political neophytes. And even candidates whose first election victory was the presidency were typically either generals or cabinet secretaries.
Even those examples come with some caveats. Two recent examples of men who went from a presidential cabinet position to the presidency—Republicans William Howard Taft and Herbert Hoover—won mainly thanks to their work within the governmental sphere. (And it should be noted that both men lost re-election by huge margins—Taft only won eight electoral votes.)
The only recent and comparable example of a businessperson winning a presidential nomination would be Wendell Willkie, who surprisingly won the GOP nod in 1940. Willkie, of course, didn’t come close to beating incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt that year.
2ND DISTRICT HAPPENINGS
Republican candidate Ann Wagner rounded up yet another high-profile endorsement this week, this time from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. And she also got some encouraging words from a notable political analyst.
As Ballwin-Ellisville Patch noted, Huckabee’s endorsement included a statement praising Wagner for being “a strong supporter of the conservative social issues that are important to us like the sanctity of life, and the preservation of marriage between one man and one woman.”
Political analyst Staurt Rothenberg—who in October said Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis, was one of the most vulnerable congressional incumbents—briefly profiled Wagner in an Oct. 27 Roll Call article. Rothenberg called Wagner “articulate, poised, polished and extremely well-funded, Wagner is certainly a top-tier candidate.”
“Personally, I’m not entirely convinced that she is quite the 'no compromise' conservative that she insists she is,” Rothenberg wrote. “But there is no doubt that Wagner will be a formidable candidate for Congress. Actually, I think she probably would be a better candidate against Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, than anyone currently in the GOP Senate field.”
Carnahan could be Wagner’s opponent if she wins the GOP primary. That’s because Carnahan is considering running as a Democrat in the 2nd District.
Meanwhile, Republican Ed Martin released a statement calling on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to resign over the so-called “Fast and Furious” operation. Numerous other Republican lawmakers have made a similar demand.
"President Obama needs to appoint an Attorney General who will respect the Constitution and run the Justice Department with integrity," Martin said in a statement.
BOYD BAILS ON HOUSE RACE
Updating an item touched upon earlier this year, America’s Got Talent winner Neal Boyd decided against running for the state legislature.
Boyd—a native of Sikeston—told the Southeast Missourian last week that he wanted to focus on getting his weight under control before plunging into public office. Boyd added “once I realized I didn't feel physically as fit as I wanted to, I didn't want to stand in the way of anybody who could give it their all right now."
Holly Rehder, a former aide to Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) is the other Republican candidate in the race. The seat is open because Rep. Ellen Brandom (R-Sikeston) is running for state Senate.