It has been an intense primary season, with a number of candidates rising to the top of media discussion (and sometimes various national polls) only to fade just as quickly. Here are nine reasons why Herman Cain's campaign may also burn out under the glare of the national spotlight:
1. Herman Cain Wants to Raise Your Taxes: At least, that's how his opponents are spinning his now infamous 9-9-9 plan. With a Tax Policy Center study stating that 84% of U.S. households will experience a tax increase under the plan it will not be a difficult case to make. In this economy a potential raising of taxes alone could be enough to sink a candidate.
2. Cain Cannot Win the War Without an Army: The Cain campaign has acknowledged that they did not expect to get this far in the race. That's fair, but now they need to staff up ... quickly. Currently there are only three or four staff members in New Hampshire, about a half dozen in Iowa and one known person in Florida. If he had a year this would not be a problem. Since we are less than three months away from pulling the proverbial lever in the early states he could be done before he even gets started.
3. Cain Cannot Position Himself as a Job Creator: Despite the best efforts by some campaigns and media outlets to take the conversation elsewhere, the economy and jobs are still by far the top priority for most Americans. While Cain's recent statement, "If you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself," may play well to some of his Tea Party supporters, it will not play well to the Main Street majority. Plus his much-touted Godfather's Pizza experience resulted in the closing of nearly two hundred stores and the loss of hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs. Michele Bachmann is right when she points out that the 9-9-9 plan is a tax plan, not an economic recovery plan.
4. Cain is a Friend of the Fed: Though the Occupy movement is being positioned by some as little more than a liberal mob, the indisputable truth is that the national dialogue has shifted where big money is concerned. For many, Wall Street and the Fed may as well be the same unpopular beast. Cain recently threw out the barb to Mitt Romney that at least he is "more Main Street than Wall Street." However, his former role as Chairman of the Board for the Kansas City Federal Reserve is going to make that bumper sticker slogan tough to stick.
5. The Cain Train Was Initially a Giant Bookmobile: Far be it from anyone to blame a guy for taking the opportunity to brand himself while he is on the national stage. However, at what point do Cain's actions start to indicate that he initially ran for president just to hock his book? He signed his book contract less than a month after filing his paperwork to run, for about a month he had more book signing events than campaign events and it was recently revealed that he spent campaign cash on copies of this memoir. Is it technically unethical? Maybe not, but the Americans that donated their hard-earned money to his campaign were not under the impression that the end goal was to crack the best seller list.
6. Cain is Not Coming Across as "In It to Win It": Cain's campaign calendar is, to be charitable, confusing. Yes, every state is important and, yes, every vote counts and yes (insert additional patriotic platitudes here). But the reality is that the eventual nominee for president will need to do well in at least one or two of the early states. Where will Cain be over the next couple of weeks? Cain will attend a beefsteak dinner in Indianapolis, spend an afternoon in Chicago and then proceed on to my birthplace, the small town of La Marque, Texas (go Coogs!). Nothing against the citizens of these fine places, but the calendar on his website seems to be missing New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, South Carolina and Florida. This is the type of thing that makes it seem, frankly, like he's not even trying.
7. At Some Point Cain's Race Will Enter the Race: Like most people, I cringe when the political conversation turns to race because, let's face it, the media does a great job of botching that type of coverage. However, the prospect of having two African-American candidates for Commander in Chief ensures that the racial narrative will come up sooner or later. The problem is that Cain has not yet crafted a winning strategy for navigating this particular issue. He recently took a shot at it, stating that President Obama, "has never been a part of the black experience of America." That remark landed as flat as his support among African-American voters -- at last count down nine to one to Obama. To be fair, Cain does not yet have wide-spread name recognition, but calling prospective voters "brainwashed" is probably not a way to win over their hearts and minds.
8. Cain May Have a Koch Problem: As Cain becomes more widely-known, so do his ties to those billionaire rascals, the Koch brothers. According to the San Francisco Chronicle:
Cain's campaign manager and a number of aides have worked for Americans for Prosperity, or AFP, the advocacy group founded with support from billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch...And Cain credits a Cleveland businessman, Rich Lowrie, who served on an AFP advisory board with helping devise his "9-9-9" plan...
Two years ago this connection may have been an asset, but the Koch brothers have been credited with launching some of the more extremist elements of the current political climate. If Cain is viewed as a Koch brothers candidate then he will likely lose the support of many moderates.
9. Cain Backed the Bailout: At its core, this may be the largest of Cain's problems. As he has stated publicly many times, Cain's support for TARP is "an issue." He has since clarified his stance by saying it was poorly executed and that certain people that do not like TARP are "economically uninformed." By that logic, the entire Tea Party is "economically uninformed." Cain is absolutely counting on feverish Tea Party support to convert momentum into votes. They may not be Romney fans, but it will be difficult if not impossible to convince a group to overlook their entire original reason for being and get enough people on the Cain Train for it to go anywhere.