If there is one lesson of the 2012 presidential cycle, it is that candidates who are broke, staffless, left for dead, lacking any natural constituency, saddled with personal baggage and written off by their parties and the pundits can pull a Lazarus and suddenly, inexplicably, lead the pack.
Newt Gingrich did it.
Now it’s Herman Cain’s turn to try.
Cain has the type of headlines that would have long driven most candidates from the race — the four women who accused him of sexual harassment, the long Libya pause, and now the claims that he has had an extramarital affair (Cain denies it).
Not only that, he has undermined his conservative bona fides by waffling on abortion, waded into identity politics by playing the race card and seemed to suggest that deep foreign policy knowledge was not crucial to being a good president.
But Cain has insisted, time and time again, that he has no plans to drop out of the race for the White House.
Tuesday, he will try to change the subject by focusing on foreign policy, which has tripped him up perhaps more than the allegations of sexual harassment. (His last debate performance was largely panned, noticed only because he coined a new nickname for Wolf Blitzer: “Blitz”).
This past weekend, he spent two days in Atlanta in briefings and roundtables with 30 policy experts. In Michigan on Tuesday evening, at Hillsdale College, he will unveil the Cain doctrine, rolling out a vision of “peace through strength and clarity.” The campaign will unveil a brochure with an assessment of 20 countries, mapping out which is friend, foe, key ally, etc.
Dogged by allegations of not being serious, it seems that Cain has finally figured out that flip doesn’t work when it comes to foreign policy. Aides said the candidate--who in the past made fun of Uzbekistan, saying he didn’t know who the president of the nation actually was--now knows President Islam Karimov ’s name, and much more.
“Campaigns change pretty frequently,” said J.D. Gordon, a Cain spokesman. “We want to make sure he is getting his message out and moving forward. He has put his trust in the voters.”
The question for Cain is this: Are voters still listening? Or do they just want him to go away?