The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Cain’s Gaffes Haven’t Hurt Him … Yet

Posted on | October 20, 2011 | 45 Comments

Just talked to Da Tech Guy who asked me, “What’s up with Herman Cain and this abortion thing?” This was of course in reference to the Piers Morgan interview which prompted Jonathan Bernstein of the Washington Post to write:

Last night, Herman Cain made a big splash when he backed into pro-choice language on abortion last night on CNN — apparently by accident — when he said he is personally fully against abortion but doesn’t think that the government should tell women what to do. This is already shaping up as a very big deal. Cain is leading in some polls, so other Republicans may use this slip up to try to take him down, and he’ll have to address it.
In other words, this could mean the end of Cain’s 15 minutes.

Which is, of course, ridiculous. Cain isn’t one of these “famous for being famous” celebrities, but has been campaigning for president for nearly a year now. So to speak of him in terms of Andy Warhol’s 15-minutes-of-fame quip is absurd. Furthermore, Cain has repeatedly stated his pro-life position — the crowd at the Values Voter Summit two weeks ago cheered his “no exceptions” stance — and while he let Morgan twist him into a pretzel during the CNN interview, Herman Cain’s campaign isn’t about abortion. He has sought to focus his campaign relentlessly on issues of economic growth.

Last night the Western Republican Leadership Conference held a reception at Caesar’s Palace, and I attended with Steve Foley of Citizens for Cain. We found ourselves talking to David Patten of NewsMax, who is working on a feature article about Herman Cain, and GOProud chairman Chris Barron, who has been on the Cain train since the days of “Herman Who?” Chris made the point that the reason people who like Herman Cain — and there are obviously many millions of them — is because he’s not a typical politician. So whether or not he’s an expert at giving media interviews, they still like him.

Chris Barron talks to David Patten at Wednesday’s reception

All of Cain’s errors to date have failed to halt his momentum, but now that he has emerged as a serious contender, he’s under more intense media scrutiny and will have to learn to cope with these pressures.

Jimmie Bise writes an open letter to Herman Cain today telling him that he’s “on the verge of a crash and burn,” which is somewhat overstating the problems he has had this week. Nevertheless, it is true that in interviews with both Wolf Blitzer and Piers Morgan, Cain managed to get himself pulled off-message, and we’ll watch to see whether he can prevent future such errors.

By the way, guess who I just interviewed? Erik Telford, who ended my now-legendary two-year-long “Blame Eric Telford” campaign by inviting me to speak at American for Prosperity’s Right Online Conference in June. Telford recently joined the Franklin Center for Government and Public Policy.

Telford is a Cain fan and so I interviewed him for an American Spectator column. Deadline for the Final Wisdom looms ahead. Please hit the freaking tip jar!


45 Responses to “Cain’s Gaffes Haven’t Hurt Him … Yet”

  1. Joe
    October 20th, 2011 @ 8:45 pm


    Yeah, the gaffes have not hurt Cain…yet.  Timmy Treadwell also thought Grizzly Bears were his friends. 

  2. Joe
    October 20th, 2011 @ 8:47 pm

    Stop temping fate Herman! 

  3. Anonymous
    October 20th, 2011 @ 8:55 pm

    So did Snack the giraffe.

  4. The Aged P
    October 20th, 2011 @ 9:00 pm

    I can see what you mean, Mr McCain…he has mishandled a couple of balls but I think you are spot on with the anti-politician stuff. What might well clinch the deal for him, though, is that Allahpundit is dumping on him twice daily at Hot Air- so Mr Cain must be doing something right….

  5. Steve in TN
    October 20th, 2011 @ 9:04 pm

    So, Stacy, how does Cain walk back his Abortion, Liberty, Foreign Policy and other gaffes and stay in the top tier of the race?

    Not to mention the fact that loads of fiscal conservatives are seeing the pitfalls of the 999 gimmick…

  6. I Hope Herman Cain Takes This Advice | The Lonely Conservative
    October 20th, 2011 @ 9:40 pm

    […] Stacy’s been following the campaign much more closely than any of us, and he thinks this is much ado about nothing. I hope he’s right. Tweetvaso linkTags: advice, herman cain, Perry, Romney This entry was […]

  7. Anonymous
    October 20th, 2011 @ 9:51 pm

    Which also doesn’t mention that loads of fiscal conservatives are on board with the 999 plan.

    I don’t like the NST part.  But Paul Ryan and Art Laffer like the plan.  As do many other fiscal cons.

  8. Anonymous
    October 20th, 2011 @ 9:55 pm

    Herman Cain’s statement on his site explains it clearly, and concisely.

    He’s got to be able to state that in a live interview, but it’s a solid statement.  He won’t suffer the kind of problems Rudy suffered for failing to bring clarity on the issue.

  9. Anonymous
    October 20th, 2011 @ 10:21 pm

    Wait till they hear about his ’empowerment zones’.

  10. Anonymous
    October 20th, 2011 @ 10:28 pm

    If it’s really just a cover for union busting I’m for it. The fact that Trumpka has already condemned it does speak well of it. How he gets any votes in Rustbelt cities is beyond me.

  11. newrouter
    October 20th, 2011 @ 10:42 pm

    i don’t worry about cain’s stance on abortion. mitten’s has both sides covered.

  12. Joe
    October 20th, 2011 @ 10:58 pm

    I was thinking it was a push for Qdaffy today, being a lion of Libya or Ohio. 

  13. Joe
    October 20th, 2011 @ 11:00 pm

    Steve in TN, how does Perry managed it?

  14. Anonymous
    October 20th, 2011 @ 11:09 pm

    I have a feeling that the speech tomorrow in Detroit is going to be epic.

  15. I Hope Herman Cain Takes This Advice | Herman Cain PAC
    October 20th, 2011 @ 11:16 pm

    […] Stacy’s been following the campaign much more closely than any of us, and he thinks this is much ado about nothing. I hope he’s […]

  16. AngelaTC
    October 20th, 2011 @ 11:32 pm

    This would be the same Art Laffer who insisted that the economy “has never been in better shape,”  right before it collapsed?

    ( Really, I have to wonder what it is going to take to shake this blind faith in the status quo. )

  17. Anonymous
    October 21st, 2011 @ 12:06 am

    I believe Herman Cain is a decent pro-life person. However, when he says “he is personally fully against abortion but doesn’t think that the government should tell women what to do.” he either expressed himself very poorly or lumped himself in the “personally opposed but government shouldn’t tell women what to do with their bodies” idiots. I’m all for personal freedom and government keeping out of our business. However, there are limits to everything. Government shouldn’t tell me how to build a shed in my yard or tell me I can’t spank my kids if they misbehave. Heck, I think it is outrageous that we have to get government permission to fish. However, even as much of an advocate of personal freedom as I am I realize there are limits to freedom and there are appropriate time for government to intervene when one person’s pursuit of happiness impacts another persons basic human rights. There are many, many things our laws tell us, regardless of gender, that we can not do. One of those things is kill another human being. A mother should have no more authority to kill her child than I have to kill some jerk who cuts me off in traffic.

  18. Joe
    October 21st, 2011 @ 12:21 am


  19. David R. Graham
    October 21st, 2011 @ 12:29 am

    No big.  Cain means abortion should be neither legal nor illegal, but rather, unthinkable.  The great majority of Americans and everyone else believe just exactly that.  It’s as ill-conceived to want it illegal as it is to want it legal.  Life begins at conception.  Abortion should be treated as murder, but not as illegal.  Big difference.

  20. Anonymous
    October 21st, 2011 @ 1:21 am

    I mean the same Art Laffer who, despite being somewhat in the mushy middle, is hailed as the architect of the Laffer Curve, which has been shown by example to be solid with regard to macroeconomics.

    It’s going to take more than your spin on his statements to strip him of that credential.

    Not sure what your parenthetical has to do with the discussion. Nothing about tax reform is related to the status quo.

  21. Anonymous
    October 21st, 2011 @ 1:22 am

    I think I missed something here.

  22. Joe
    October 21st, 2011 @ 1:26 am

    Cain’s giraffes haven’t been hurt yet?  Well they must be staying out of Ohio! 

  23. Anonymous
    October 21st, 2011 @ 1:40 am

    Saw on the tele that to qualify as an empowerment zone or whatever his new name for it is, a city would have to agree to be a right to work city and abolish the minimum wage. I’m not sure what that qualifies them for. Since all cities that need that kind of federal help are union towns with unionized city workers, who I assume are covered by the right to work clause the unions will howl. I was doing something else when the piece came on TV I didn’t really hear exactly Trumpka said. But at any rate I suspect he wont get any union votes if what I heard on the news is accurate.

  24. Anonymous
    October 21st, 2011 @ 1:42 am

    Since at this time it’s very thinkable how would he change that?

  25. Adjoran
    October 21st, 2011 @ 1:44 am

    Cain hasn’t committed a “killer” gaffe yet, but there are several minor ones.  The worrisome thing about them is that they were all unforced errors, there were no trick or difficult questions which set him up the bomb.

    His problem seems to be that he is incapable of not answering a question, or trying to, even when he isn’t completely familiar with the subject, such as the Palestinian “right of return.”  How hard would it be to say, “I haven’t studied that specifically, but I strongly feel all issues must be negotiated in good faith between the parties, not imposed by outside powers.”

    With abortion, a simple “I’m against it” will do.  No matter how you phrase your pro-life position, you won’t win any points with the abortion supporters anyway, so why try to blur your stance?

    There is a limit to the mileage Cain can get on gaffes based on the “not a politician” theme.  As Ari Fleischer noted, “People should be careful about what they say.”

  26. Adjoran
    October 21st, 2011 @ 1:47 am

    That is hardly a majority position in America today, which has finally moved into a plurality and near majority favoring restrictions on abortion on demand.  And if what you explain is indeed Cain’s position, he will be bleeding pro-life support once it becomes known.

  27. MrPaulRevere
    October 21st, 2011 @ 2:13 am

    Am I the only one who’s noticed the recent unforced errors have occured since the departure of Ellen Carmichael?

  28. Anonymous
    October 21st, 2011 @ 2:23 am

    A lot of union members are really angry at leadership these days.  I don’t know what the numbers are (hard to admit you’re in a union and Conservative), but I suspect many have had it.

  29. Anonymous
    October 21st, 2011 @ 2:24 am

    Seriously!  It’s the home territory of Domino’s AND Little Caesar’s.

  30. Anonymous
    October 21st, 2011 @ 2:26 am

    He knew the secret was to tell them bedtime stories.

    He just screwed up and told them the one about Goldilocks.

  31. Charles
    October 21st, 2011 @ 3:27 am

    I’ve looked at life from both sides now
    From up and down and still somehow
    It’s life illusions I recall
    I really don’t know life at all

  32. Anonymous
    October 21st, 2011 @ 4:17 am

    HEY !! AmericanGlob stole my picture.

    **I’m a Star**

  33. Anonymous
    October 21st, 2011 @ 4:54 am

    HC isn’t a social issues or foreign policy kinda guy. By now he should
    recognize that he’s on dangerous ground when these are discussed and
    should have figured out how to deal with these when they arise.

    If he has a position on a thorny issue, he should state it simply and succinctly and then MOVE ON and avoid wading into the
    details like the plague. If he is asked about wonkish issues that he is
    unfamiliar with, honesty is the best policy. As an example, most people haven’t the faintest idea what this “right of return” thing is all about and would hardly fault him for being equally ignorant. If he was portraying himself as a policy wonk it would be a different story, but he’s NOT.

    Jobs and the economy are the issues that are most on the minds of voters today.  His 9-9-9 plan seems to have hit a nerve with the public. Even though I think it has serious flaws and that he should be pushing a flat tax plan or better yet, the FairTax instead, his appeal is obviously based on economic issues and he should stay focused on those and just IGNORE everything else as much as possible.

  34. Anonymous
    October 21st, 2011 @ 9:14 am


          You said: “Abortion should be treated as murder, but not as illegal.  Big difference.” I hope you understand that murder is illegal. Your point is lost on me.

  35. Tennwriter
    October 21st, 2011 @ 10:03 am

    Well said.  I’m worried about this.  If Cain really is one of those idiots as you put it, he just lost my vote.

    I’d rather have Obama.

  36. Tennwriter
    October 21st, 2011 @ 10:12 am

    It is a good point about the ‘right of return’ …yet another tool in the death cultist’s armory….is not that well known to most Americans.

    But instead of running from foreign policy and conservative values, he needs to find himself some very strong folk to help him with these.

    There is little point to voting for a strictly economic guy as he will be overwhelmed by other factors.  At best, he will be a bandaid to give us a bit more time to really fix things.

  37. Book
    October 21st, 2011 @ 10:45 am

    Did he really say that 15-minutes bit? Me thinks the Post would rather Cain were not the nominee…

    Cain’s answer made complete sense. He’s prolife- but he recognizes that the country is not ready to make abortion illegal. Ergo- he won’t push to make it illegal.

    How is that hard to understand? It’s the same position of nearly every pro-life politician I can think of.

  38. Joe
    October 21st, 2011 @ 12:56 pm

    Ohio, for the events of this week you earned this! 

  39. Joe
    October 21st, 2011 @ 1:10 pm

    The majority position on abortion now in America is relatively moderate but more restrictive than the current law.  A majority would ban third trimester abortions (in most states) except if the life of the mother was threatened (that is relatively rare since giving birth at that point is usually not more dangerous than a late term abortion).  A majority would restrict second trimester abortions but not as broadly as third trimesters.  And a majority (in most states) would not ban first trimester abortions.  A majority find the practice immoral but would not want it classified as murder (they do not want to see people put in jail over it). 

    I mean seriously, do you think a majority in America would make a first trimester abortion in the case of rape illegal?  They would not.  I can understand arguing the child is innocent, etc., but you would really put the power of the state to criminalize it?   I doubt that would pass in any state.    

    The trouble is if that is Herman Cain’s position he will not get the GOP nomination.  Hence the reason Romney “evolved” on the issue.   Still, I would think Cain would have a simple to the point answer on this like every GOP candidate has.  It is not like you cannot see this one coming. 

    I would like to see Roe gone because Roe is bad law.  As Scalia says, there is neither a right or a ban to abortion in the Constitution.  The Constitution is silent on it and abortions (while rare) existed in America at the time the Constitution was ratified. 

  40. Joe
    October 21st, 2011 @ 1:11 pm

    Spot on. 

  41. Joe
    October 21st, 2011 @ 1:11 pm

    Maybe they should hire Stacy. 

  42. Joe
    October 21st, 2011 @ 4:01 pm

    “As President, I will appoint judges who understand the original intent of the Constitution. Judges who are committed to the rule of law know that the Constitution contains no right to take the life of unborn children.
    I will oppose government funding of abortion. I will veto any legislation that contains funds for Planned Parenthood. I will do everything that a President can do, consistent with his constitutional role, to advance the culture of life.”

    Herman Cain

    I am good with that position.  Even if Allah, Ace, Glenn Beck, and Santorum are not. 

  43. Bob Belvedere
    October 21st, 2011 @ 10:23 pm

    I was hoping that that bad idea died with Jack Kemp [RIP].

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    October 23rd, 2011 @ 4:10 am

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  45. Charlotte
    October 24th, 2011 @ 10:43 am

    Love you Herman Cain! The media on both sides is determined to pu t Romney or Perry up against Obama. We the People, please don’t let them determine the outcome! Pay attention to Newt as well…