From the diaries by Erick
There has been a good bit of 'presidential' buzz about Herman Cain in the right online community, and in the conservative camp in general. He's not been shy about admitting that he's considering it. Now he's taking the next step. I had the privilege of speaking with him for a half-hour last night after he was done with his nationally syndicated talk show, and I am pleased to make the following announcement on RedState.
Moments ago, Herman Cain announced on FoxNews' Your World Cavuto that he is forming an exploratory committee to determine the feasability of a run for President of the United States in the 2012 election.
So who is Herman Cain, when it comes down to it? Once you get past the tremendous speeches and a magnetic personality that is even more from gripping up close, what you come to know is that Cain doesn't mess around with idle talk. He's a doer, a problem solver, and he's got a track record to prove it. When he takes the bull by the horns, that bull is in for it.
Let's take a closer look.
Conservative rising star
Herman Cain is no stranger to RedState. He was the headliner at this year's annual Gathering in Austin. He handily won RedState's match-style Presidential contest a month ago. But he's hardly merely a RedState phenomenon. He's a nationally syndicated radio talk show host out of Atlanta, and a headline speaker at numerous major conservative activist events and Tea Party events. He's also a frequent guest on Fox News.
That Godfathers Pizza thing - big deal?
Everybody knows he was the head of Godfathers Pizza, and rescued it from the brink of failure. Do you think he fell off the turnip truck one day after dropping out of high school and was hired as a CEO?
In 1977, at age 29 he had a MS in Computer Science. He joined Pillsbury, and within 5 years became VP of Corporate Systems and Services. He quit that post after 2 years, and joined Pillsbury's Burger King division, learning from the ground up as a burger flipper. Nine months later, he was in charge of 400 stores in Pennsylvania, BK's worst performing region. in three years, it was the company's best.
THAT is when Pillsbury sent him to the rescue of their failing Godfathers Pizza chain in 1986. In fourteen months it was profitable and in another year he led his executive team to a buyout of Godfathers from Pillsbury. It gets better but I'll stop there. You get an idea of the kind of man we are talking about.
So I am curious. In terms of leadership, problem-solving, just plain old hard work, how does that resume stack up against Barack Obama's life of privilege, pot smoking, crooked real estate deals, multiple auto-biographies, guest lecturing at the University of Chicago, and "community organizing"?
Yeah. I didn't think so either.
So when Herman Cain says he's a problem solver, and that this is what sets him apart from other candidates, maybe you ought to consider the possibility that he's right. He told me (and it's in many of his speeches) of how life knocked him on his can in 2006 when he was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer in his liver and colon. He was told he had a 30% chance of living past 3 years.
So what did he do? he talked to his doctors and told them "what do we have to do to increase those odds? Let us make a plan to solve this problem." You know the rest. They went on a brutal, agressive regimen that had him cancer free in 9 months. He was not so much a cancer survivor as he was a cancer defeater.
That's how I approach solving problems. Identifying the right problem, asking the right questions, and putting together a plan to maximize the possibility of success. Take ObamaCare - they're not even working on the right problem - bringing down the cost and increasing access. They didn't even address that.
How's all that political experience working out for you?
The obvious knock on Herman Cain as a presidential candidate is his lack of political experience. For starters, he's not all that inexperienced (see next section). And second, as he says to voters, "How's all that political experience working out for you?" Seriously, name me a government system that is not bloated, broke, or broken. The entitlement system? No? OK, how about those bureaus. Are you pleased with the EPA, FEC, FCC, FDA? How about the Education Department. State Department? Anyone? Anyone? Beuller?
Call it a stretch, but maybe Washington DC crammed full of career politicians and bureacrats is not made of pure awesome. Maybe bold, hard-nosed, results-oriented, problem-solving business sense is the kind of thing you want at the top.
Imagine a president with the grit, the tenacity, the pragmatic, practical, no-nonsense, clear-thinking approach that Cain took with Burger King, Godfathers Pizza, and cancer. Then imagine the same guy is a movement conservative. Then imagine the guy actually ran for president.
In the daily trenches
It's a criticism of Cain to say he's never held political office, but it's far off-base to say he has no political experience. In a public townhall in 1994, while CEO of Godfathers Pizza, he took Bill Clinton to economics school in showing him chapter-and-verse on how many of his employees he'd have to lay off if HillaryCare were passed. In 1996 he campaigned with the Dole-Kemp ticket, making stump speeches with Jack Kemp. He passed up a shot at taking down Senator Bob Kerrey in Nebraska in 2000. He did run for the Senate in Georgia in 2004, coming in second in the primary against eventual winner Johnny Isakson.
Now he's been doing his nationally syndicated political talk show for 3 years, having his ideas scrutinized and challenged for 15 hours a week, honing his debating skills, hearing and learning from his audience. This 2010 election cycle, he ran the Hermanator PAC for conservative candidates. So he's not just a businessman or talk show guy who suddenly decided to take a wild and crazy flier.and run for president. He's been in the thick of the conservative political fight for over a decade.
You can believe it
He is a tremendously inspiring speaker who has a plain-spoken way of explaining Cosntitutional conservatism, and he doesn't need a teleprompter. Do not discount that. His name recognition beyond the chattering classes and the Tea Parties is somewhat limited today. But that won't be true after the first debate (in June 2011 I think?). He does not have the Tea Parties in his pocket, but he's one of a handful that they love.
He told me that two things would be required to make him a winning candidate. Large grassroots support, and enough financial support to be competitive. He does not need to raise the most money, just enough to to competitive. You can do that if you have the best message and the right messenger.
The 2010 election was compositionally different -- in chemical makeup - than any in our lifetimes. Normal rules don't necessarily apply. Establishment GOP picks are now suspect rather than shoo-ins. Tea Parties are far more likely to set the tone, and if the early behavior of the new Congress is any indicator, the Tea Parties are going to be more active, not less. More dissatisfied with the "same old politics", not less. They're looking for fresh, solutions-based ideas.
And there are 900 different ways that Herman Cain scratches that itch.
I'll close. Just watch, if you haven't seen him before.
[Full disclosure : I am not a representative of, affiliate of, consultant for, or employee of any candidate, campaign, or company that works for same. I am just me. And you know how I feel.]