Herman Cain, whose standing in the GOP presidential field has taken a hit in the wake of sexual harassment allegations and questions about his grasp of foreign policy, is making the case to Iowans that he will be the last man standing because he can get the black vote.
According to the Des Moines Register, the Cain campaign is circulating a seven-page mailer in the Hawkeye state that likens the former Godfather's Pizza CEO to Ronald Reagan and argues, according to the paper, that he “will be the 2012 GOP nominee because he’s a descendant of slaves who can garner a large share of the black vote, he didn’t inherit a dime, he has traveled the globe for years, and he’s a believer in Jesus Christ.”
In the mailer Cain says “as a descendent [sic] of slaves I can lead the Republican party to victory by garnering a large share of the black vote, something that has not been done since Dwight Eisenhower garnered 41 percent of the black vote in 1956.”
With the “descendant of slaves” line Cain is aiming to set himself apart from not only the rest of the Republican field, but also Obama, whose black father was born in Kenya. It’s another way to say that Cain is the “real black man” in the race, a comment that he has made less obliquely in the past, and could therefore appeal to black voters because of his ties to slavery.
There is no evidence to suggest that Cain can peel away black support from Obama, whose approval rating still remains high among African-Americans. Cain has in the past called blacks “brainwashed” because of their historical support for Democratic candidates, a statement that is unlikely to attract black voters to a Cain candidacy.
As for the rest of the mailer, the subtext is pretty clear:
Cain didn’t inherit a dime (unlike Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. and Mitt Romney).
Cain has traveled the globe for years (presumably unlike Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry who have seemed parochial) — i.e. ignore the Libya mishap, the wet foot, dry foot policy blind spot, and the “How do you say delicious in Cuban” gaffe.
Cain is a believer in Jesus Christ — i.e. Cain is not a Mormon, unlike Huntsman and Romney.
The mailer also asks for donations to the Cain campaign, and touts a big grass-roots ground organization.
Cain has been polling well in Iowa, and it appears that less than two months before the Jan. 3 caucuses, likely voters are still trying to make up their minds between Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Cain and Romney, according to the latest poll. .
In a forum on Saturday, Cain talked openly about his faith and teared up as he talked about his wife, Gloria, who supported him as he battled stage IV colon cancer in 2006.
“I can do this,” Cain said he told his wife after he got the diagnosis. “She said — ‘we.’”