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Why Herman Cain is lucky he’s Herman Cain

at 08:27 AM ET, 11/04/2011

Say what you want about how Herman Cain and his campaign have handled the response to the growing controversy consuming his campaign.

It hasn’t hurt him in the Republican primary. Not yet, at least.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that seven in 10 Republicans say the controversy has no effect on whether they would vote for him, and he remains in a statistical tie atop the GOP field with Mitt Romney.
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain arrives to speak on Capitol Hill in Washington this week. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

And a lot of is because, on paper, Cain is about the perfect vessel for surviving just such a pickle.

To wit:

* He came into the controversy with an enormous amount of goodwill. More than any other candidate in the GOP presidential field, the people that know Cain genuinely like him — always have — and as people have gotten to know Cain, they like him even more. When you’ve got such a reserve of goodwill, people are more apt to believe you when there is reasonable doubt. (Can you imagine Romney or Rick Perry surviving this so unscathed?)

* He’s not a politician and doesn’t rely on traditional donors or political operatives for his support; thus, his financial support has not dried up and, in fact, it has sped up, to the tune of $1.2 million in the past four days. And the traditional measures of what makes a real contender don’t apply to him, so relatively few people are counting him out. Plus, the fact that he’s an outsider makes it much easier for him to play the victim in this ongoing drama. After all, this is just Washington politicians and their helpers trying to bring down the party-crasher, right?

* He’s impervious to his own troubles. We have seen this many times. Cain, perhaps more than any politician in recent memory, is quite content to not answer a question, say he doesn’t know the answer, or change his story without batting an eye. This, it could be argued, is actually an asset, because when Cain isn’t panicking, it means the people around him and his supporters aren’t panicking either. We’ve seen the Cain calm crack once or twice, but on the whole, he has been a cool customer.

* There’s not a ready alternative. Both Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich have recovered a bit in the polls, but both fell in the race largely by their own doing and saw their personal favorability numbers fall. Thus, Cain’s supporters don’t have a logical place to go and may stick by him longer than they otherwise would have.

No Mrs. Cain tonight: Gloria Cain has canceled a planned appearance tonight on Fox News’s “On the Record with Greta van Susteren.” The presidential candidate’s wife reportedly had a change of heart, but she may appear on the network at some point in the future.

Cain’s wife of 43 years has been almost entirely absent from the campaign trail.

“You will meet my wife publicly, in an exclusive interview that we are currently planning and anticipating,” he said Monday. “But it’s not her style for her to be with me on every campaign stop.”

He said yesterday that Gloria as “still 200 percent supportive of me in this whole race, 200 percent supportive of me as her husband, because I haven’t done anything.”

NRA decision today: The National Restaurant Association said Thursday that it would decide today whether to release one of Cain’s accusers from her confidentiality agreement.

The woman, though, only wants to release an anonymous statement, so a release doesn’t mean that she would begin publicly making her case against Cain.

It also means that Cain would continue to be spared any accuser who actually has a name or a face, which really seems to be the missing link in the case that is forming against him.

Former Jay Nixon aides launch firm: Several former aides to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) are launching a new Washington political and public affairs firm.

Tightline Strategies will launch with six principals, including five who have worked in Missouri and four veterans of Nixon’s 2008 campaign. Ken Morley and Marco Guido also worked for Sen. Ben Cardin’s (D-Md.) successful 2006 campaign, while Jack Cardetti, Paul Dunn and Tracie Moore are also veterans of Missouri politics.

Joe Cooper will lead the Washington-area office. The firm will also have offices in St. Louis and southern California.

Obama campaign to hit Romney again: Romney is set to give a speech on spending policy this afternoon, in which he will pledge to make $500 billion in spending cuts in his first term. And the Obama campaign is ready to attack.

It will contend that Romney’s cuts would cut middle class programs in order to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy.

“Romney apparently operates under the false assumption that we can just cut our way to prosperity,” Obama campaign policy director James Kvaal says in an advance memo provided to The Fix.

Fixbits:

New Hampshire Republicans go to great lengths to assure us that Rick Perry wasn’t drunk when he delivered that speech.

Republicans in Ohio are back to the drawing board — literally — after their redistricting map fell eight votes shy of passing with a majority that would have made it immune from a referendum that Democrats are threatening.

Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), who recently challenged her own party’s congressional redistricting plan — unsuccessfully — gets a primary from Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey.

Americans for Prosperity is reviewing its financial transactions with charity founded by Cain’s chief of staff.

Must-reads:

Once GOP Stars, 5 House Freshmen Fight For Seats” — Corey Dade, NPR

It’s Not Too Late for Imprudent Speculation About Other Republican Candidates” — Nate Silver, New York Times

Is Obama Toast? Handicapping the 2012 Election” — Nate Silver, New York Times

For Perry, Use of Private Jets as Part of Job” — Mike McIntire, New York Times

Donor Suit Shows Roots of Romney and Perry’s Rift” — Patrick O’Connor and Alicia Mundy, Wall Street Journal

Rachel Weiner contributed to this report.

Read more at PostPolitics.com

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