Obama Fortunes Improve As Republican Rivals Argue

President Barack Obama's fortunes rallied on Friday as the U.S. jobless rate eased, his approval rating rose and his Republican rivals battled over harassment claims against presidential hopeful Herman Cain.

Nearly half of Americans now approve of how Obama is doing his job, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed, and unemployment slipped to 9 percent from 9.1 percent -- good news for the president as he faces a tough 2012 re-election fight with the economy as the key issue.

Rare infighting in the Republican Party, usually known for its unity, also benefits Obama. Cain accused fellow candidate Rick Perry's camp of being behind news reports the former pizza executive faced sexual harassment allegations in the 1990s.

"Obviously Team Obama wants the Republican field as large as possible for as long as possible," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell said. "The more they duke it out, the more ammo Team Obama has going into the general election."

Democrats have stayed out of the harassment controversy, focusing on Obama's job-creation plans and keeping campaign attacks on former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, whom Cain replaced at the top of most polls of Republican voters.

"It's clouding the Republican message right now, so that's got to be good news for Democrats and they are quite wisely being very quiet about it," said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University.

Read more from Patricia Zengerle at Reuters

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Herman Cain's Awful Week

Re-Posted From The Daily Caller

Herman Cain’s presidential candidacy appears to be showing some “initial resiliency” in the wake of allegations that the Georgia businessman sexually harassed three women when he was the head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s. The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll (conducted Oct. 31-Nov. 3) shows Cain trailing former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney by just one point in the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

However, should Cain’s bid for the GOP nod ultimately flame out, which I suspect it will, political historians will point to this past week as the watershed moment in his campaign.

I’m a fan of Herman Cain, but Team Cain’s slow and erratic responses to the sexual harassment allegations over the course of the last several days have allowed the situation to morph into a bad version of a made-for-TMZ political reality show. Cain is on the verge of becoming the poster boy for a Harvard Business School case study on how not to manage a crisis.

Although I find it comical that Politico has published more than 90 stories on the Cain saga since the publication’s initial article last Sunday night, the fact that a double standard exists in the mainstream media for conservative candidates such as Cain is just short of irrelevant.

Nor does it matter whether another Republican candidate’s campaign leaked the info. Had this not come to light in the primary and Cain had won the nomination, I guarantee that Team Obama would have brought it up. And they wouldn’t have been as nice about it.

Much of Cain’s allure derives from his often-touted experience as a business executive. To be successful, executives have to be good at managing crises, and thus far, Cain has fallen far short of expectations. So, forget the politically charged 3:00 a.m. phone call debate, Cain has yet to demonstrate that he’s capable of answering a 9:00 a.m. phone call.

Hopefully Mr. Cain can rebound and prove me wrong by putting these allegations to rest. Unfortunately I fear the damage has already been done — and Cain and his campaign staffers have no one to blame but themselves.

Ford O’Connell is the chairman of CivicForumPAC, editor of The Political Quarterback and an advisor to conservative candidates.

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Ford O'Connell At Politico's Arena: Will Slow Drip Drown Cain?

I am a fan of Herman Cain, but Team Cain’s slow and erratic responses to the sexual harassment allegations have allowed the situation to morph into a bad version of a made for TMZ political reality show. In fact, as more details come to light, Herman Cain is on the verge of becoming the poster boy for a Harvard Business School case study on how NOT to handle crisis management in the political arena.

Should Cain’s bid for the GOP nomination ultimately flame out, which I suspect it will, Team Cain has no one to blame but itself.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at Politico's "The Arena"

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Ford O'Connell At Politico's Arena: Is Herman Cain Ready For Prime Time?

Depending on what other information comes to light, Herman Cain could conceivably recover from these allegations. Unfortunately for Cain, a big part of his allure is his often-touted executive management skills (including crisis management proficiency). Forget the 3:00 A.M. phone call, Cain has yet to demonstrate himself capable of answering a 9:00 A.M. phone call.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at Politico's "The Arena"

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If Harassment Claims Sink Herman Cain, Which GOP Rival Will Benefit?

All along, Herman Cain has been saying, “Let Herman be Herman.”

If that means continuing to tell an evolving story about the sexual harassment claims he now acknowledges he faced as CEO of the National Restaurant Association, it does not bode well for his presidential campaign.

But there’s no guarantee that Mr. Cain’s support – enough to put him at or near the top in polls of Republican voters – will slip, even now.

Cain is saying the fact that the restaurant group paid two women modest settlements to get rid of the harassment charge back in the 1990s as evidence that the case was not serious.

If no more explosive details come out, the story will likely fade.

Part of Cain’s appeal has been his management experience. This episode raises major red flags both about his ability to manage a crisis and about his ability to surround himself with an effective team of advisers.

“Forget about the 3 a.m. phone call, he’s not ready for the 9 a.m. phone call,” says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell.

And if more damaging information about Cain comes out, then his supporters may start shopping for another candidate who is not Mitt Romney, the other front-runner in the presidential primaries. Mr. Romney is seen as the “establishment” candidate in the race, a moderate at heart who takes conservative positions out of opportunism, not conviction.

If Cain supporters start considering the non-Romney alternatives, and determine there’s no one they can support, “then maybe they go to Romney,” says Mr. O’Connell, chairman of the conservative Civic Forum PAC.

Charlie Cook, editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, thinks the sexual harassment story probably means the beginning of the end of the Cain surge. The likely beneficiary, he writes, is Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who earlier sank to single digits in the polls after bad debate performances. But Governor Perry remains viable, given his fundraising and organizational prowess.

Read more from Linda Feldmann at The Christian Science Monitor

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Ford O'Connell At Politico's Arena: If Cain Were A Dem, Media Probably Wouldn't Be So Eager To Push Story

The sexual harassment allegations against Herman Cain are relatively unsubstantiated at this juncture, but highly explosive and could damage Mr. Cain’s presidential bid.

I wonder if Cain had been a Democrat, would the mass media be so eager to push this story? Remember, it took the media a long time to catch on to former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards’ sexual indiscretions.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at Politico's "The Arena"

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Can Herman Cain Actually Win The GOP Nomination?

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.”

Read more from Linda Feldmann at The Christian Science Monitor

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The Political Quarterback Archives

Visit the archives for more commentary and analysis from The Political Quarterback:

http://www.fordoconnell.com/category/in-print/page/4/

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2012 U.S. Senate Forecast - October 2011 Update

senatebreakdown-300x204.pngAside from winning the White House, the best way for the GOP to weaken President Obama’s power is for Republicans to win control of the U.S. Senate. In 2012, 33 Senate seats will be up (23 Democratic-held seats will be up for grabs and 10 GOP-held seats). Of those 33 seats, approximately 11 races will be competitive at this juncture. For the GOP to take control of the U.S. Senate in 2012 they would need to net four seats. Two Republican-held seats are in danger of flipping (Dean Heller in Nevada and Scott Brown in Massachusetts).

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2012 Electoral Map Projection - October 2011 Update

april-usmap-300x224.pngThe Political Quarterback's 2012 Electoral College scorecard remains relatively unchanged from July 2011. At the end of September, President Obama's approval rating continues to sag and polls show strong showings by candidates Romney, Perry and even Cain against the increasingly unpopular incumbent. 

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