Is it Coming Down To Romney, Cain, South Carolina, and Florida?

 Bookmark and Share    While there is a great deal of focus on the view that the bickering during the recent CNN  G.O.P. debate in Nevada hurt Republicans and helped President Obama,the truth of the matter is that the bickering of today, is the meaningless and forgotten history of tomorrow.  Just ask George. H. W. Bush who called Ronald Reagan’s economic policy, voodoo economics and then went on to serve two terms as Reagan’s Vice President.

The only truly relevant factors concerning the success or failure of any of the Republican presidential candidates at this point concern three key elements………, their organization and its effectiveness, their fundraising capabilities, and their individual standings within the first four nominating contests, especially the last two of those four…..South Carolina and Florida.

While national trends have a role, it is important to remember that nominees are chosen through individual state contests and at different times.  So while the entire nation participates in the process, it is far from being accurately described as a national election.

For those reasons, I am less concerned with what Rick Perry said about an illegal immigrant cutting Mitt Romney’s lawn, in an attempt to defend his own pitiful position on  illegal immigration.  More important than any of that is the current snapshot taken by two new NBC News-Marist polls.

To get a real sense of how things are going, one needs to remain focussed on what really matters.  And with just a few months to go before voting in the Republican nomination contests begins, that focus needs to be less on any overall national impression of the current field and more on where the individual candidates stand in individual states. Although polls are merely a snapshot of a fleeting moment, the cumulative effect of each of these moments offer an indication of the way things are going and at the moment newly energized Herman Cain narrowly leads Mitt Romney in South Carolina’s Republican primary, and is running neck and neck with Romney in Florida.

Click Here for Complete October 19, 2011 South Carolina NBC News/Marist Poll Release

Click Here for Complete October 19, 2011 South Carolina NBC News/Marist Poll Tables

More so than Iowa and New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida will have a profound effect on establishing the future trajectories of all the candidate.  The only real way for Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two contests, to have as much as an impact as Florida and South carolina is if Mitt Romney can win both of those states, or if someone is able to defeat Mitt Romney in New Hampshire.  If Romney wins both Iowa and New Hampshire, he will establish an almost unstoppable momentum that will lift his chances for victory in all the state contests that immediately follow them.  If someone like Jon Huntsman or Herman Cain pulls off an stunning upset victory over Romney in New Hampshire, they will be in the catbird seat as they go in to the Palmetto and Sunshine state contests.

No matter what though, South Carolina and Florida will really set the tone for all the following contests, especially in the delegate rich South which Mitt Romney faces his stiffest competition in as he vies for votes among the region’s uber-conservative, evangelical base, and must also contend with evangelical Christian bigotry towards Romney’s Mormon faith.

The fact that Romney is still maintaining a strong position in both Florida and South Carolina is a testament to both the effectiveness of his campaign organization and the viability of his candidacy.  But this does not insure a Romney win  in either state.  Herman Cain’s current ability to tie and even surpass Romney in early polls in South Carolina and Florida, is a sign that Romney is still quite vulnerable.  Herman Cain does not have a campaign that is organized in a way that is comparable to Romney’s.   Yet despite that lack of organization, Cain  is holding his own.  If Herman Cain hopes to insure his own victory in South Carolina and Florida, he must build an organization that can establish a strong ground game.  Mitt Romney will have a top notch ground game in both of those states.  If Herman Cain’s operation is inferior to Romney’s, the results in Florida and South Carolina could be close, but the winner will ultimately be Mitt Romney.

But if Romney finds himself facing off against a well organized competitor who within striking distance, Romney can definitely go down.

This made quite evident in the current NBC-Marist Poll which shows that in South Carolina, Cain has the support of 30% of likely GOP primary voters, to  Romney’s gets 26%, Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 9%, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 6% and Reps. Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul at 5%, with 15% of likely primary voters remaining undecided.  According to a broader pool of Republicans in South Carolina, Cain is at 28 % and Romney is at 27%.

In Florida, Cain is at 32% among likely voters, Romney at 31%, Perry at 8%and Paul and Gingrich are at 6%, and  11% say they are undecided.

South Carolina and Florida have both played pivotal roles in past Republican presidential nominating contests.   Since 1980, the winner of South Carolina’s GOP primary has gone on to win the party’s nomination, and in 2008, John  McCain’s win of Florida’s primary  essentially handed the nomination to him.  Both states are likely to play the same role in 2012.

What is particularly troubling for Romney within those numbers is a breakdown which shows that while Romney may be toward the top of the field with Herman Cain, the enthusiasm for Romney is much lower than it is for Cain. In South Carolina, 45% of Cain’s supporters in South Carolina strongly back him, while only 37% of Romney’s supporters describe themselves as strongly committed to Romney. In Florida, 52% of Cain’s supporters strongly back him, compared to 41% who strongly back Romney.

That means that the Republican electorate is quite unsettled and if there is still time for a third candidate to rise to the top.  I believe that that candidate could be Newt Gingrich.

If Gingrich holds his powder in Iowa and New Hampshire, a split decision  in those two states could allow Newt to make his move and startle everyone with either a win in South Carolina and Florida, or at least a stronger than expected showing.  That is unlikely but it is quite possible.  However, much like Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich does not have a campaign that is organized enough compete with Mitt Romney’s.  Unless and until someone can match Mitt Romney’s ground games in several early states, Romney is headed towards the Republican National Convention in Orlando, Florida as the inevitable Republican presidential nominee.

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The Launching of “Americans for Herman Cain,” a Project of the “9-9-9 Fund”

Bookmark and Share  It is rare for a an outside group that is campaigning independently of and for a particular candidate to campaign better than the candidate than that they are supporting but that is exactly the case with with a newly organized outfit called the 9-9-9 Fund and which has launched what it calls Americans for Herman Cain.  The new committee amounts to what is commonly called a super-committee

Jordan Gehrke

In the groups first mass email which was sent out while the CNN Republican presidential debate was taking place, its campaign director, Jordan Gehrke, penned a missive that presented a case for Herman Cain  that Herman Cain’s own campaign has not effectively laid out for voters.

In what is a very succinct and articulate fundraising email, Gehrke demonstrates superior strategic political skills with a succinct but articulate letter that demonstrates how effective direct messaging can be when done right and provides Herman Cain’s campaign with a sample of how they should be communicating to voters.

In his email, Jordan Gehrke combines Herman Cain’s positives with the negatives of Mitt Romney and Rick Perry in a way that makes the combination of the two, one of the most powerful cases for why Herman Cain should be the nominee that I have seen yet. Up to now, Herman Cain seems to be too much of a gentleman to go after his Republican opponents too harshly. But this is not an ad war between Dominos and pizza Hut, this is presidential politics and pretty soon Mr. Cain is going to have to do what Mr. Gehrke is willing to do …. land some meaningful, hard hitting punches. So far, Mr. Cain has criticized his opponents with light jabs distinguishing them as politicians and himself as a problem solving outsider. That will not seal the deal. However; by showing that he has a powerful uppercut and a lethal left hook, Herman cain can do exactly what he needs to do right now, while the iron is hot. He must not only gain some ground, he must also cause his opponents to lose some ground.

So far the race for the Republican presidential nomination has seen candidates burn quite bright but quickly fade out and be outshined by the steady little flame that is Mitt Romney’s dull glow. If Herman Cain does not want to be the next Michele Bachmann or Rick Perry, he must take advantage of the newfound popularity that he saw since the Florida Straw Poll and establish himself as a truly viable alternative to Mitt Romney. If he fails to take advantage of this surge now, it may be too late and he will likely find himself being a flash in the pan that will easily be written off as another “also ran”.

In order to avoid that, Cain must take two steps forward while simultaneously pushing his opponents two steps back.

In his fundraising email to supporters, Jordan Gehrke does just that.  See Gehrke’s 9-9-9 Fund email below and you too will realize how effective Cain’s positive message is when combined with the negative realities of his opponents.
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great herman cain vid
Jordan Gehrke, Americans for Herman Cain to you
From: Jordan Gehrke, Americans for Herman Cain info@americansforhermancain.com
To:   liberalsrlosers
Date: Tue, Oct 18, 2011 9:05 pm
`
What if we didn’t have to choose between the lesser of two evils for  President? What if we had a conservative choice we could be proud of? Let me explain.
`
Conservatives have been told they have to pick Mitt Romney, despite his flip-flops on abortion, immigration, gun control. Plus, he’s the intellectual father of ObamaCare. No conservative really LOVES Mitt Romney. But they think they might be stuck with him.We were told Rick Perry was the “Tea Party” alternative to Mitt Romney, until we found out he mandated 12-year-old girls receive a vaccine f or HPV without their parents’ permission, opposed building a fence along America’s southern border, and supported free college tuition for illegal aliens.
`
We have a real choice this time: Herman Cain. Herman Cain is surging in Iowa and New Hampshire. Just this week, a new poll showed that if the election were held today, Herman would beat Barack Obama.  Will you help him today?
`
Today we are launching “Americans for Herman Cain,” a project of 9-9-9 Fund.
`
I wanted you to be among the first to see our new video about our efforts. I hope you’ll like it, and share it across Facebook and Twitter:
Herman Cain has grassroots support. He has the poll numbers. He is a conservative. He can beat Barack Obama. Now it’s our job to propel him to victory in Iowa, N ew Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, Florida, Michigan, and Arizona.
`
We’re going to do everything from TV ads, voter mail, advocacy phones identifying Herman’s supporters, to get out the vote programs. But we can’t do it without your help. We’re fiscal conservatives like you, and we won’t waste a dollar.
`

Together, we will take our country back.

For America,
Jordan Gehrke
Campaign Director
AmericansforHermanCain.com

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Personally, I’m impressed.

In my opinion, this solicitation is a perfect example of what Herman Cain and his campaign needs to be articulating and driving home. However, as is often the case, when it comes to negative campaigning, like most successful criminals know, it is best not to leave your own fingerprints on the weapon used in committing your crime. That is why surrogates are often called upon to do the attacking for them.

But Gehrke is not associated with Herman Cain.  You will note the disclaimer at the bottom of his email which states that AFHC and the 9-9-9 Fund is not authorized by any candidate or committee.

Mr. Gehrke is an experienced political operative who once led the Internet activism division at Eberle Communications Group and was the Director of Business Development for BMW Direct, a national direct mail fundraising firm, where he also led their voter contact mail division. Some of his past clients include Sen. David Vitter and Reps. Jim Ryun, Geoff Davis, and Robin Hayes, Sharon Angle, and also involved in some controversial dealings with the campaigns of Tim Cahill who ran a primary for the Republican gubernatorial campaign of  also Nevada’s Sharon Angle.

In the case of Cahill, during the 2010 primary, Cahill sued  Gehrke who beiefly served as Cahil’s political director, and he tried to insure that Gehrke did not from hand  any confidential information and documents over to Cahil’s chief opponent for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, Charlie Baker. Gehrke and three other cahill campaign official had suddenly resigned from Cahill’s campaign.

But the most questionable involvement of Gehrke comes from his positions with  Base Connect, which was formerly known as BMW Direct.  The company described itself as “a full-service creative agency for conservative candidates running at the national level.”  But it was noted that for several election cycles, the political consulting firm would go out and find  longshot conservative candidates that were  running against a well funded Democrat incumbents and then launch a national fundraising campaign by sending direct mail to a list of loyal but small pocketed conservative donors around the country.

The real problem though was that as much as 95% t of the money Base Connect raises  is funneled backt o Base Connect and partner companies that are based in the same suite in the same building off K Street.   According to one report, GOP consultant  Bill Pascoe called the Base Connect  process “subprime fundraising.” And Erick Erickson once said that” candidates who use the firm are in danger of losing Red State’s endorsement, presumably because conservative donors’ money is going to a fundraising agency rather than actually helping the cause. Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA) dropped all ties with Base Connect after Talking Points Memo reported in March he was paying the firm 75 percent in fundraising ”

So while I am impressed by the effectiveness of Mr. Gehrke’s work, I am forced to question the sincerity of his involvement in a so-called super PAC that is designed to promote the candidacy of a not so well connected political candidate who s running for the highest office in the land.

When White House 2012 approached Mr. Gehrke for an interview and asked some basic questions, he offered an email response that went as follows:

“There is zero relationship with Americans for Herman Cain and the Cain campaign. We are simply a SuperPAC that exists to put together an experienced team in early primary states for Cain that can win in IA, NH, SC, NV, FL, MI, AZ, etc.

I think Herman and his team have done a great job turning him into a tier one candidate despite the media and the establishment telling us he can’t win.

Now, it’s our job to provide reinforcements. That’s what we intend to do. We’ll be announcing the team in the coming days.

Thanks for your interest.

Jordan”

To be clear, neither Mr. Gehrke or his former employers at Base Connect have been officially charged with any wrongdoing and in America one is innocent until proven guilty.  So we give Jordan Gehrke the benefit of the doubt and for Herman Cain’s sake, we hope that Mr. Gehrke’s obvious abilities raise the money that will allow his talents to deliver plenty of votes to Herman Cain.

Is TEA Party Favorite Niki Haley Readying to Endorse Herman Cain or Mitt Romney?

Bookmark and Share    While endorsements of one politician by other politicians do not exactly change the minds about those candidates who they like or dislike, some endorsements are more important than others. Such is the case with South Carolina Governor and TEA movement favorite Niki Haley.

In addition to having influence among some TEA movement leaders who have committed themselves to her and the limited government, constitution respecting, conservative cause she fights for, she is also the influential leader of a state whose early primary could be a tipping point in the quest to name a Republican presidential nominee. Not only does her approval garner much media attention, it also provides for significant organizational strength from the state Republican Party and TEA movement activists.

Furthermore, given the timing of Haley’s state’s G.O.P. presidential primary, which precedes the important delegate rich Forida primary by one week, her endorsement could help to make winning in Sunshine State a very real possibility for the candidate who has won South Carolina. And winning both of those states could be just enough to kill the forward momentum of those who lose in both states.

So while the endorsement’s of other Governors have value, some, like Nikki Haley, have more value than others.

With this in mind, in recent weeks, both Mitt Romney and Rick Perry have been egaged in a sort of endorsement battle involving evryone from Governors, to state legislators, county execs and congressional leaders but the focus is on Governors.

Last week on the day that Mitt Romney announced the surprise endorsement of former Minnesota Governor and presidential rival Tim Pawenty, Romney seemed to be on the road to consolidating establishment support behind him. But on that same day, not long after the Pawlenty announcement , Rick Perry announced that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was endorsing him.

Comparing the two, while Pawlenty is a former Governor who is losing influence as time goes by, Jindal is an incumbent Governor, running for reelection and seen as a rising Republican. That was game, set, match for Perry that day.

Shortly after that, Romney announced that he received the endorsement of  27 New Hampshire legislators. Perry subsequently announced twenty one South Carolina GOP Legislators were endorsing him for President.

Romney then announced former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman’s endorsements of him, but Perry scooped Romney again.  this time by announcing that he was endorsed by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval. That one hurt. Nevada is considered fertile territory for Romney and a loss in that state’s relatively early contest would be a setback for Romney.

Now most recently, Perry announced that he was receiving conservative Governor Sam Brownback’s endorsement. That one kind of put Perry ahead in the endorsement battle.

But now we learn from from the National Journal’s Tim Alberta that the critical endorsement of South Carolina’s Niki Haley, looks like it will be awarded to Mitt Romney.

During a speech to grass root Republicans and Party leaders at an annual G.O.P. Leadership Conference in Mackinac, Michigan, Governor Haley called next year’s contest “the most important presidential election we’ve had in a long time,” and she told the audience that need to get behind a republican running for President “who puts substance ahead of style.”

Governor Haley said. “We’re not going to vote for personality — we saw where that got us last time,”. She added “We need a true executive to get us back on track.”

After her official remarks, in an interview with Hot Line On Call, Niki Haley explained that she is looking for a candidate who has a proven business background and is “An executive — that means business people”.

She further added;

“What I’m looking for is someone who understands the debt, someone who understands that we need to be energy independent, someone who will… get people back to work.”

Of the existing G.O.P. presidential candidates, Governor Haley’s description could point two one of only two people………….. Mitt Romney or Herman Cain.

A part of me believes that her language which stresses an aggressive focus on the keywords and phrases “a true executive” and “business people”,is most apropos for TEA Party language used to describe Herman Cain. But there are two consideration here that lead me to believe she actually means Mitt Romney.

The first is this. If she intends to endorse Herman Cain, doing so sooner rather than later would behoove Herman Cain. It would give him access to much needed campaign fundraising capabilities. It would also provide some of the credibility to his candidacy that he needs in order to make many voters who are reluctant about how far Cain go in the primary battle, and alow them to view him as a more viable candidate than they currently see him to be.

So if Niki Haley intends to endorse Cain, the time for that was yesterday, before the Florida debate and its weekend straw poll.

The other consideration is that Mitt Romney was there for Nikki Haley when she needed it during her campaign first for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, and then again during her gubernatorial election. He stumped with her, and he provided significant financial contributions to her campaign. This is not to say that Haley owes this to Mitt Romney, but after first Sarah Palin who was also there for Haley, she kind of does owe it to him. Furthermore, Haley’s focused language on being an executive and business leader, fits quite well with Romney’s own painstaking attempts to paint himself as a private sector business leader, and not a career politician.

So while I will not say for sure that Nikki Haley’s endorsement is for Romney instead of Cain, I will say that Romney does look more likely to be the candidate that she gets behind. Whoever she means though, it doesn’t sound like she is referring to Rick Perry.  and if Romney does get her backing, it will be more than a slam dunk for him . It’ll be a three pointer that leaves Perry saying “ouch”.

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Cain Campaign Collapsing?

Bookmark and Share    As many Republican presidential campaigns are just beginning to increase their levels of activity, a string of cancellations seem to indicate that the campaign of  Herman Cain is doing just the opposite. But it is the type of events that he has withdrawn from which force one to wonder if there is not something more behind the cutting back of activity.

For an underdog campaign, earned media events, the type of events that cost hardly anything but afford you great exposure, are as a good as having ownership of a toll booth on the state turnpike, during rush hour.  You just don’t pass such an opportunity up. Yet the Cain campaign has done just that by pulling out of a Thursday evening appearance on the Colbert Report, a speaking engagement at an event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa , and a cancellation of his giving the keynote address at the Fayette County Republican Picnic in Iowa.

What’s more is, that there seems to be no good reasons for these cancellations. A review of the campaign’s schedule does not reveal any schedule conflicts with the three cancelled appearances. In fact the Cain campaign has nothing at all scheduled on the three dates in question. This all leads one to wonder as to why Herman Cain would give up the chance to appear before a national audience on the Colbert Report , and with the Iowa Straw Poll just about two weeks away, why would he pass up two premium speaking engagements in the very state that will conduct that all important symbolic poll?

From the very beginning, Herman Cain’s presidential path was plotted out on a steep incline. Still his ability to articulate a truly conservative message, combined with the appeal of his outsider status, made him a novel candidate that many wanted to hear more from. This was especially the case after the first nationally aired Republican presidential debate that took place on Fox News. Some of his most enthusiastic supporters came from those within the TEA movement. But since that first Fox News debate, something known as the Bachmann campaign entered the picture.

Michele Bachmann’s entry in to the Republican presidential nomination contest sucked much of the air out of Herman Cain’sign campa. But Bachmann alone can not be blamed for the faltering Cain Campaign.   A slew of staff resignations, especially within his Iowa organization, have added to the slowing down of Cain’s momentum.

Still, these factors would not explain why “The Hermanator” cancelled three very valuable, expense free, high profile events that do not conflict with any other “scheduled” campaign activity. Additionally, Cain has only two campaign events scheduled this week and non until at least Friday of next week. Such a slimming down of the schedule leads me to believe that there are one of two things at work here. Herman Cain could be sensing that his campaign’s momentum is not at a pace that is fast enough to catch up to the front of the field of candidates. As a result Cain is therefore just biding his time till the Iowa Straw Poll in Ames, in case by some chance he finishes strong enough to give him hope of more forward momentum. Or there could be a more serious and most unfortunate circumstance behind it all.

In 2006, Cain began a battle with stage IV cancer in both his colon and his liver. Those suffering with Stage IV tumors have only a 10 percent survival rate, yet Herman Cain bravely and miraculously beat the odds. Studies have indicated that the chance for recurrence of certain cancers such as Stage IV colorectal cancer is in excess of 41%. While this is purely conjecture, the early treatment for a reoccurrence could explain why Cain has been cancelling events instead of  just folding up the presidential campaign tent. Hopefully, this is not the case, but a lack of any further explanation of a schedule that is light on events and heavy on cancellations, gives one cause to wonder what exactly is behind it all.

The most likely scenario is that Herman Cain is just accepting the writing on the wall regarding his chances of winning the nomination among the existing field of candidates.

For many, it looks like Herman Cain’s campaign reached its peek, the height of which was now many weeks ago. Even in the area of fundraising, while Cain’s most recent quarterly filing with the FEC boasted a haul of $2.46 million, was half the amount that Michele Bachmann raised. Cain’s fundraising was still better than others like Gary Johnson and Rick Santorum who raised a measly $582,348 but when compared to frontrunner Mitt Romney’s second quarter report of $18.25 million, Herman Cain’s 2.46 million in fundraising is a mere drop in the bucket .

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