Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 11/03/2011

Cain sets off circular GOP firing squad

Herman Cain began the week blaming his anonymous accusers for making baseless charges. He then began to point fingers at the media, at racially motivated liberals and vaguely at establishment Republicans that he said were uncomfortable with his unconventional campaign.

The allegations he made were rather random, not based on any evidence, and seemed not only beside the point, but a reflection of a flat-footed and understaffed Cain camp.
Herman Cain wipes his brow during remarks to legislators in the Congressional Health Care Caucus in Washington on Wednesday. (JONATHAN ERNST - REUTERS)
But it could be that Cain has finally landed on a workable strategy, at least for now, as the scandal that has rocked his campaign enters its fifth day. In labeling Rick Perry as the source of the allegations — claims that Perry’s camp has said are baseless — Cain has found a bad guy.

“We now know and have been able to trace it back to the Perry campaign that stirred this up, in order to discredit me and slow us down,” Cain told supporters in a phone call Wednesday evening according to the New York Times.

Cain has clearly started a mud fight, as now the Perry campaign has accused the Romney camp of being the source of the story. And Newt Gingrich, who has been critical of the infighting, had this to say Wednesday night on CNN:

“I’d wanna see the evidence, but I would say if it turns out that a Republican presidential candidate deliberately went out and created this kind of a story about a fellow candidate — that they would probably rapidly become a pariah among the rest of us and they better fire the people who did it,” he said. “I would think that that’s the kind of despicable behavior that is the worst possible behavior. I’m not taking Herman’s word for it.”

For Cain, this strategy could work, at least for a time, because with everyone muddied and everyone throwing haymakers, it’s hard to tell where it all began.

It’s clear that the allegations against Cain have been good for his bottom line, as $400,000 has rolled in over the past few days. And Thursday, he begins a seven day push to raise $999,000 to prepare for the Iowa Caucuses.

Cain has no public schedule Thursday, but the unconventional candidate could obviously appear on the stump or on TV — the campaign is currently in talks with Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren for an interview with Cain’s wife, Gloria.

Also Thursday, Joel Bennett, lawyer for one of the women who settled harassment claims, is set to ask the National Restaurant Association whether he can release a statement without violating the confidentiality agreement that makes clear that his client’s recollection of the events differs from Cain’s. If a statement is in fact released that offers details, where Cain has offered vagueness, the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO will have to answer another round of questions. And bringing Perry into the ring with him, would be of little use.

WHERE TO FIND THE CANDIDATES:

Rick Santorum begins his day at the Ames Conservative Breakfast Club meeting at 7 a.m.; at 11:30, he appears at the Des Moines Lions Club, and at 6 p.m., heads to Adel, for a Dallas County GOP Chili Supper.

Jon Huntsman kicks off his day in the Palmetto State, at the South Carolina GOP First in the South breakfast in Myrtle Beach at 9 a.m. and then heads to the Converse College Presidential Forum in Spartanburg, S.C. at 3:30 p.m.

Michele Bachmann delivers a noon speech on economic policy at Iowa State University in Ames and at 6 p.m. appears at the Dallas County GOP Dinner in Adel.

Rick Perry hosts a townhall meeting with employees of Pioneer Hi-Bred in Johnston, Iowa, at 3:30 p.m..

Mitt Romney hosts a townhall meeting in Exeter, N.H., at 5:30 p.m.

WORTH READING:

Left, right, both wrong on the economy.

Three arguments Republicans use to defend Cain

Congressional Texans start backing Perry

GOP House members put revenue increase in play

WORTH WATCHING: Rick Perry interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News, where he admits he wasn’t prepared for debates:

By  |  06:00 AM ET, 11/03/2011

 
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