Herman Cain Surges Ahead in New Polls; Rivals Poke Fun at '9-9-9' Plan

After surprising straw poll wins, former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain is surging over his fellow Republican presidential candidates. In a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, released Wednesday, Cain tops former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney 27-23 percent, with Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 16 percent.

Following behind are Rep. Ron Paul at 11 percent, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 8 percent, Rep. Michele Bachmann at 5 percent, and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman at 3 percent.

In the previous survey, conducted in late August, Perry led the field at 38 percent, with Romney at 23 percent, while Cain only received 5 percent.

Tuesday's Public Policy Polling study also has good news for Cain. Cain holds a 30-22 lead over Romney.

The businessman also appears to have surpassed Perry in terms of garnering support from voters who identify themselves as very conservative.

In September, Perry received favorable nods from 39 percent of these voters, ahead of four other candidates who received votes in the low teens, but he has now slipped to 20 percent while Cain holds a 33 percent favorable lead with the same voters, a jump for Cain of 23 points from 10 points last month.

If the race beyond the early states came down to two candidates, Romney would lead slightly with 48-38 percent over Perry, and Cain would hold a surprising 48-36 percent lead over Romney. Even more surprising, considering Perry’s front runner status only few short weeks ago, Cain would trounce Perry by a 55-77 percent margin.

With this type of momentum being exhibited by Cain it is not surprising that his fellow Republicans have started to criticize his 9-9-9 tax plan, which is a proposal to replace the current tax code with a nine percent flat income tax, a nine percent corporate tax and a nine percent national sales tax.

At Tuesday night's debate in Hanover, N.H., Bachmann had a ready quip for the former radio host. "A sales tax can also lead to value-added tax. So once you get a new revenue stream, you're never going to get rid of it. And one thing I would say is, when you take the 9-9-9 plan and you turn it upside down, I think the devil's in the details," Bachmann.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman also poked fun at Cain's 9-9-9 plan, saying, "It's a catchy phrase, in fact I thought it was the price of a pizza."

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said, "I don't need 9-9-9, we don't need any plan to pass Congress." The governor believes a president should "free up this country's entrepreneurs."

According to CBS News, Cain said that he was actually glad his economic plan was slammed by his Republican rivals at Tuesday night's forum. "It attracted a lot of attention at the debates last night," he said. "You know you must be doing something right when you get a lot of arrows in your back."