To hear Herman Cain tell it, his corporate executive experience is the single greatest factor that sets him apart from rival Republican politicians competing for the presidential nomination. But both current and former campaign staffers tell a very different story, one that depicts Cain as someone who is far more focused on his book tour than managing an efficient campaign.
In interviews with The New York Times, staffers, volunteers and supporters expressed befuddlement over Cain’s attitude. Complaints ranged from setting up offices without the requisite supplies to getting the candidate to show up for important events.
“Everything we tried to do was like pulling teeth to get accomplished, a former Iowa aide told the Times. “I’ve never been involved in a job that was as frustrating as this one. We couldn’t get an answer on anything. Everything was fly by the seat of your pants.”
Cain’s affable charm may also be a façade, another former staffer suggested, recalling an email message sent to staff about traveling with Cain in a car: “Do not speak to him unless you are spoken to,” it said.
As his poll numbers have risen, the former Godfather’s Pizza executive has pledged in recent weeks to settle down and concentrate on the crucial early primary and caucus states that are key to the GOP nomination. But according to San Francisco State University political scientist Robert Smith, Cain has never been serious about running for office. Smith believes that Cain is using the platform much like Al Sharpton did in his improbable U.S. Senate, mayoral and White House bids, to sell books and increase his speaking fees, and perhaps to even score a television program. And unlike Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. in the 1984 Democratic primaries, he also isn't using his candidacy to influence his party in a meaningful way.
“[Cain]’s clearly not going to be nominated. We know that and I think he knows that,” said Smith, who also speculated that Cain could receive a cabinet appointment by the eventual nominee if elected, “if he doesn’t embarrass himself.”
(Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)