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Herman Cain: The GOP's flavor of the month sours early

Cain
You have to wonder if conservative Republicans are doing everything in their power to deny the inevitability of Mitt Romney's spot atop the GOP's 2012 ticket. They coaxed Texas Gov. Rick Perry into the race this summer and briefly afforded him front-runner status; then a garbled response to a debate moderator's question on Pakistan and questions over his stance on illegal immigration sent his poll numbers plummeting. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie bowed out -- again -- this week after receiving overtures from Republicans uncomfortable with the declared candidates (read: Romney). And Michele Bachmann is, well, Michele Bachmann.

Comes now Herman Cain, the previously unheard-of GOP hopeful now polling alongside Romney. And, like Perry, his star burns bright -- but, judging by his riff this week on the Wall Street protesters, briefly:

I don't have facts to back this up, but I happen to believe that these demonstrations are planned and orchestrated to distract from the failed policies of the Obama administration. Don't blame Wall Street, don't blame the big banks, if you don't have a job and you're not rich; blame yourself! ... It is not someone's fault if they succeeded; it is someone's fault if they failed.

Cain's answer speaks to the seeming inability of today's Republican candidates to defend free-market capitalism and curtailing government regulations on the private sector without sounding crass and insensitive. There are ways to do so (ask Tom Campbell, who briefly laid out the mainstream conservative position in Saturday's Postscript article), but you wouldn't know it  paying attention to the GOP race.

Cain and Romney share the same liability in a bearish economy: Both are super-rich, an enviable status that didn't serve Sen. John McCain so well in 2008. They must at least appear sympathetic to the 14 million jobless Americans to have a chance against President Obama. And with Cain's gaffe and Romney griping Tuesday about the "class warfare" on Wall Street, neither are off to a good start.

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--Paul Thornton

Photo credit: Joe Burbank / Orlando Sentinel

 

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