Businessman Herman Cain, who, in the private sector, turned around many companies that nobody thought could be turned around, has been getting more attention and the requisite scrutiny that follows it as his polls numbers have risen in the past weeks.
Cain appeals primarily for two reasons. First, he is not a Washington politician and does not speak like one, and that endears him to voters fed up with typical politicians in an anti-establishment cycle. Second, Cain’s successful private sector experience separates him from other “outsider” candidates in recent cycles such as Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell that the establishment and the media mocked. Cain’s private sector experience allows people to believe, even though he has never been elected to office, that he could hit the ground running should he be elected President.
In the weeks and months ahead, Cain will have to walk a fine line: he will have to continue “being Herman” and not sound like a canned politician spewing poll-tested formulations while also being more polished with his statements and putting on his CEO hat as much as his “anti-establishment” hat. It will be a fine line he will have to walk as he tries to be the so-called “Teavangelical” candidate that gains the support of Tea Party and socially conservative evangelical voters that dominate many of the early caucus and primary states.
For instance, on Glenn Beck’s show on Fox yesterday, Cain said that he would require Muslims to prove loyalty to the Constitution of the United States of America but would not require the same from a Catholic or a Mormon.
To CBS, Cain walked back his comments, which may have been in jest but which left room for interpretation, that he would not sign any bill that was longer than three pages.
In the same interview, Cain said that homosexuality was a sin and a choice, which is red meat rhetoric to social conservative.
Cain’s profile has increased due to his bluntness. To increase his profile even more, it makes sense for Cain to court and appeal to socially conservative and religious voters.
And while Cain should never stop “being Herman,” it may serve him well to have some canned answers to some hot-button issues that the mainstream media is bound to ask. Constantly giving off the impression of walking back statements or getting a do-over on questions may unnecessarily lower what can potentially be a very high ceiling.