From the start, Herman Cain has confounded the Republican elite. The former pizza magnate, Navy mathematician, and talk radio host with no political experience jumped into the presidential race with both feet way back in January and has never looked back.
Mr. Cain has enticed GOP voters with his catchy “9-9-9″ tax plan and moved them with his up-by-the-bootstraps life story. He has also raised eyebrows with a series of gaffes, strange ads, and reports of “chaos” within his campaign. But he’s a robo-candidate, plowing ahead, ever-smiling. And he’s ahead in the polls among likely GOP primary voters, both nationally and in key early nominating states. His Achilles’ heel is fundraising and organization.
Could Cain actually win the Republican nomination? In theory, yes. But political analysts still view Cain as a long shot.
A story in The New York Times posted Wednesday quotes former aides describing a campaign that churns through staff, mishandles potential donors, and makes nonsensical scheduling decisions. All campaigns, especially those new to presidential politics, go through some disorder, but given that Cain’s argument for the presidency is his private-sector management experience, he has a lot to prove in short order.
“He has to win Iowa; I think that’s the real key,” says Ford O’Connell, chairman of the conservative Civic Forum PAC. “Should he win Iowa, people will show him how to build a national organization.”
Still, Mr. O’Connell believes it’s “extremely unlikely” that Cain will go on to win the nomination, “given his lack of organization and campaign resources.”