Everything old may be new again. Last week’s debate ended up not drawing attention for attacking Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan, but the endless war between Mitt Romney and nearly fourth place contender Rick Perry. Perry managed to finally break through the veneer of Romney’s inevitability.
Someone said that the winner in the debate last week was Herman Cain. I agree. Nothing about the confrontation served either candidate well. Perry went after Romney’s illegal immigration incident in the ridiculous way The Nation accused Lou Dobbs of the same thing. Romney hired a company who had illegal immigrants working for them. It’s not something you automatically think to inquire about. Romney decided to throw up all over himself by saying that he fired the company as soon as he found out, because he was running for president. By extension, it says he only cared how it made him look.
Perry knows that his competition is Romney and he needs to be taken down. Perry’s own immigration policy and crony capitalism has damaged his reputation with conservatives. He now has to squeeze into the space to the left of Herman Cain and the right of Mitt Romney. In other words, it’s over.
Cain has surprisingly strong support among Republicans, but he’s less polished than he needs to be and he has no money to speak of. He’s the front-runner no one treats like a front-runner. That means Romney will get the vetting and Cain is poised to fall apart quickly.
In the Obama administration’s continuing cribbing of the Bush playbook, they plan to run the 2004 campaign on Mitt Romney. He’s a flip-flopper, elitist yet culturally dissimilar and running against a sitting president who kicks foreign people’s asses. Their advantage is that Romney represents every stereotype about Republicans going back 50 years. Then again, Obama is a lot less popular than Bush was in 2004, especially since the economy was recovering for him.
People seem to like Herman Cain because of his lack of polish or even because of his race. The fact is that he’s also smart (computer and math degrees) and successful. He was able to take down Bill Clinton on a discussion of business costs. He may not have marched in civil rights protests, but he is the embodiment of the goals of that movement. Maybe Mitt could be his Vice President. We’ll worry about him in 2020.
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