Businessman Herman Cain has recently seen a rise in the GOP polls thanks to his charisma and authentic appeal. However, while Cain usually touts his business skills and economic knowledge as reasons for him to move into the White House, his management skills may be less than desirable for someone wanting to be president.
The New York Times interviewed several former staffers for the Cain campaign and all of their stories have one thing in common: chaos.
Cain went from almost complete obscurity to being thrust into the national spotlight all within a matter of two weeks. Cain’s national attention is thanks in part to the GOP voter’s dissatisfaction with the two so-called front-runners, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
After Perry began slipping in the polls after a few dismal debate performances, Cain leapt ahead. However, the momentum might have been too fast for the Washington outsider as it is not clear yet whether his campaign can manage under the added pressure.
The interviews reveal a glimpse of Cain-the-manager who appears to be ambivalent toward “basic campaign management” as well as overly-confident.
The New York Times reports that an email was sent to his staff regarding traveling in a car with Cain, saying: “Do not speak to him unless you are spoken to.”
According to the interviews, the staff volunteers had hoped to see Cain-the-problem-solver, but it turns out that they rarely saw Cain at all. Cain allegedly “did not plan conference calls or staff meetings and was given to changing his mind about appearances, sometimes with little notice, a tendency that angered his field workers.”
Inside the campaign, operations were described as a “fly by the seat of your pants” type of atmosphere.
This revelation from inside the campaign may confirm what many pundits have been saying about Cain’s campaign for a while. Last week syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer appeared on Fox News’ “Special Report” and said he thought Cain was “winging it.”
“[I] saw him on ‘Stossel’ on abortion – entirely incoherent,” Krauthammer said. “On one hand, ‘people ought to have choice.’ On the other hand, ‘life is sacred from the beginning and abortion ought to be illegal.’ This isn’t a complicated issue. It’s one or the other. It can’t be both.”
Krauthammer was referring to Cain’s recent confusing comments regarding his stand on abortion. He appeared to flip-flop on the issue within a matter of days, saying at first that the government should stay out of that decision to saying it should be illegal no matter what. Krauthammer and other pundits criticize Cain for not having a simple, coherent message like all conventional candidates have.
Cain, of course, is not a conventional candidate. While most candidates spend time in the early primary states like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada and Florida, Cain has barely traveled to those states. Instead, he has focused on promoting his new book, This is Herman Cain! My Journey to the White House, across the southern states.
This has the potential to hurt him in the long run, many pundits argue.
“He needs to focus on those early primary states that vote in January if he wants to win,” Layne Provine, a political consultant, told The Christian Post.
Provine also said he would advise Cain not to get too confident just because the national GOP polls have him in the lead right now.
“When I see these national polls on the Republican primary, I’m amused by it because it doesn’t matter. There’s not going to be a national Republican primary. The national polls are meaningless.”
Provine said that when he learned that Cain was on a book tour in Tennessee he thought, “What’s the point? Tennessee isn’t voting until March. All the other candidates are focusing on the early five [states], so why isn’t Cain?”
“Voters in some states have little say on who is the nominee. I would focus time, energy, resources on those five states who have early voting.”
He added that running a national campaign the way Cain is currently doing “just doesn’t make any sense.”
Cain’s campaign has also garnered media attention due to its controversial campaign ads. He released one, known as the “smoking ad,” in which his chief of staff, Mark Block, is seen smoking a cigarette. Many critics described the ad as unusual and strange. However, Cain defended the ad on The Hannity Show, saying it reflected his campaign’s attitude of “let Herman be Herman.” He said he’s not going to be handled by anyone and will just be himself.
While some may have found the ads strange, his “let Herman be Herman” attitude seems to strike a chord with many voters. As a non-politician, this attitude makes him appear more approachable and less manufactured than the other seasoned politicians.
“I think Cain is serious about his bid for the White House. Initially, I’m not sure. But now he is serious,” Provine said. “He’s got a lot going for him and a lot of people are interested. With the added scrutiny comes a lot more negativity.” And that’s just something Cain will have to adapt to, he noted.