There was at least some initial excitement about Herman Cain’s presidential run from both his Tea Party supporters and Black conservatives. But in the wake of sexual harassment allegations leveled against the one-time GOP front-runner, and the subsequent suspension of his campaign, you have to wonder how many people are now left shaking their heads.
The spry, sharp-tongued former Godfathers’ Pizza CEO injected the campaign trail with a needed boost of energy. His candidacy, in some ways, was meant to make the GOP tent seem bigger, perhaps even welcoming diversity.
Lenny McAllister, conservative CNN commentator said, “For the Black conservative movement, the Cain popularity in both the media and within the conservative base symbolizes the opportunity that is rapidly increasing for Black conservatives and Republicans to engage the greater political community as well as the African-American community with solutions, positions and advocacy.”
But a series of gaffes on the campaign trail prompted questions about whether they were in fact a prelude to the political meltdown that was to come.
Remember his infamous 9-9-9 tax plan? It was supposed to be a simple solution to some of the pressing financial roadblocks facing the country. But Cain had difficulty recalling the details of the plan when pressed for information.
And then there was the time he referred to former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as “Princess Nancy,” or the time he countered accusations that he was the Tea Party flavor of the week by saying he’s like Häagen-Dazs’ Black Walnut flavor. And who can forget his parting words last week, when he so eloquently announced his campaign’s suspension using lines from a Pokémon movie?
The promise of Cain’s candidacy was soon overshadowed by a barrage of problems which became fodder for headlines each day.
Tara Setmeyer, communication’s director for Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher said, “I never thought he was a serious candidate and his antics in my opinion, fed in to a certain stereotype of being a shuck and jive huckster. I also think white conservatives, particularly Tea Party folks, are so afraid of being called racists, they were afraid to criticize the amateurish, immature and oftentimes enigmatic candidacy of Cain."
History may view the Cain candidacy as a cautionary tale for the party that supported him so enthusiastically in the beginning.
"The Tea Party learned that candidates that rise to the forefront of the American political stage must be prepared for the limelight just as much as they have been prepared for providing the criticism of the political status quo,” McCallister said. “Being a non-politician can be a positive attribute within a political race, but it is a hindrance and potentially a fatal flaw, whenever that status comes across as being unpolished, unprepared and unclear.”
Setmeyer’s assessment is resolute. “The entire exercise was frustrating for me to watch unfold and I was very vocal in my contempt for the entire Cainwreck campaign. We as conservatives should not have to choose between ideology and competence,” she says.”
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