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Cain Surges to Top of GOP Presidential Field


Republican presidential contender Herman Cain at the Bloomberg/Washington Post debate at Dartmouth College on Oct. 11, 2011. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

Businessman Herman Cain has skyrocketed to the front of the GOP pack as former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney continues to struggle to broaden his appeal among Republicans, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

Here are the top line numbers from the Wall Street Journal write up of the poll.

“Drawn by Mr. Cain’s blunt, folksy style in recent debates, 27% of Republican primary voters picked him as their first choice for the nomination, a jump of 22 percentage points from six weeks ago.

Mr. Romney held firm in second place at 23%, his same share as in a Journal poll in late August, while Mr. Perry plummeted to 16%, from 38% in August.”

The Cain/Perry combined total sits at the same 43 percent as it did in last month’s poll, as Romney continued to hold steady in the mid-twenties.

Cain’s surge to the top is the fourth time in the last five months we have seen a non-Romney candidate ignite the passions of the Tea Party/activist core of the Republican party. We saw it first with Donald Trump, then Michele Bachmann, followed by Rick Perry – and now Herman Cain appears to be filling that slot.

The Republican half of the polling duo that conducts the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll provides an important caveat courtesy of NBC News Deputy Political Director Mark Murray.

“McInturff cautions that Cain’s ascent — and Perry’s decline — is probably not the last shakeup in a GOP race that has seen a series of sudden rises and abrupt falls (first Donald Trump, then Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and now Perry) in the field.

‘There is still a long, long, long time to go,’ McInturff said.”

As night follows day, so too does increased scrutiny follow a candidate’s poll surge. Be sure to read the Wall Street Journal and New York Times’ coverage of Mr. Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan, which is taking heat from critics on the left and the right.

This is just the beginning of Herman Cain’s time under the microscope. If he can withstand the scrutiny and show some staying power, he might be able to solidify a base of support.

Cain’s spokesman said the campaign has 30 full-time paid staff members spread throughout the key early states and at national campaign headquarters. Until, and unless, Cain builds up a real operation and puts a field program and a paid media program in place, it will be hard for the press to take his front-runner status to the bank.

CAMPAIGN CASH

President Obama eclipsed his third-quarter fundraising goal, hauling in a combined $70 million for his re-election effort and the Democratic National Committee. (Of course, public goals are set precisely to be eclipsed.)

Obama for America campaign manager Jim Messina broke the news Thursday morning in an email sent to supporters.

“If I could sum up this last quarter in a few words: You came through. Thank you,” Messina wrote.

The $70 million total exceeds the $55 million target set out by the president’s re-election team, but is still less than the $86 million raised in the previous quarter. The Obama team had always said the third quarter number would be lower, in large part due to canceled fundraising events because the president was grounded in Washington during the debt ceiling debate this past summer.

Of the $70 million raised, $42.8 million went to Obama for America, with the remaining $27.3 million delivered to the DNC. The third-quarter number posted by Obama for America was slightly less than the $47 million raised by the organization in the second quarter of the year, and also fell short of the $49.5 million raked in by the Bush 2004 operation during the same quarter in 2003.

Still, Mr. Obama’s haul is likely to surpass the combined total of all the Republican contenders in the third quarter. Texas Gov. Rick Perry reported raising $17 million and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is expected to be the only other GOP hopeful in double-digit figures.

The Obama campaign reports the $70 million came from 606,027 people, spread out over 766,000 donations, with 98 percent of those being for $250 or less. The average donation was $56. More than a quarter million people made their first donation to the Obama organization, and the campaign reports it is less than 18,000 people away from having 1 million donors.

The questions still left to be answered by the report the campaign will file with the Federal Election Commission include: How much cash on hand does the campaign have? What is the split between the primary and general election campaigns? And, how much of the total was raised from high dollar donors?

We’ll find out some of those answers once the report is actually filed with the FEC this weekend.

GRANITE STATE THREAT

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner is threatening to move the Granite State’s First-in-the-Nation primary to December of this year if Nevada doesn’t move its caucuses later in January.

In a statement full of bravado issued on his website Wednesday, Gardner declared the Nevada caucuses a “similar election” to the New Hampshire primary. If he is to the follow the letter of the law, Gardner would not be able to schedule the primary less than seven days prior to the Nevada caucuses, which are currently scheduled for Saturday, January 14, 2012.

“If Nevada does not accept a date of Tuesday, January 17th or later for its caucus, it leaves New Hampshire no choice but to consider December of this year. The dates of Tuesday, December 13th,and Tuesday, December 6th are realistic options, and we have logistics in place to make either date happen if needed,” Gardner wrote in his statement.

Later in the day, Gardner chatted with the preeminent Silver State political reporter Jon Ralston of the Las Vegas Sun.

“I’m just asking Nevada for 72 hours,” Gardner told Ralston.

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval issued a statement in response to Gardner’s provocative posturing in which he made clear he did not intend to move the caucuses.

“We certainly respect Secretary Gardner’s position, but we have a similar responsibility to protect our state’s rights. A caucus is not the same as a primary election. Nevada has chosen January 14 and New Hampshire could easily choose January 10 for its primary and still preserve the intent of its seven-day rule as it applies to primary elections,” Sandoval said.

Gardner is well aware of the backlash that he and his state may suffer if the primary was to be scheduled to take place in less than two months, but he has staked his entire career on protecting the first-in-the-nation status of New Hampshire’s primary, so he will try every public tool available him to try and get his way.

ON THE TRAIL

All events listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama welcomes President Lee Myung-bak of the Republic of Korea to the White House at 9 a.m. The day’s events include a bilateral meeting at 10 a.m. and a joint press conference at 12:20 p.m. There will be a State Dinner at the White House in the evening.

  • Jon Huntsman addresses the Plymouth Rotary Club meeting in Greenland, N.H., at 12 p.m., and speaks at a forum in Manchester at 4:30 p.m.

  • Mitt Romney discusses trade policy in Redmond, Wash., at 5:50 p.m.

  • Herman Cain speaks at a rally at Ohio Christian University in Circleville, Ohio, at 6 p.m.

  • Michele Bachmann meets with Donald Trump in New York City in the afternoon, then holds a rally in Denison, Iowa, at 6 p.m., and attends a Woodbury County GOP fundraiser in Sioux City at 8:30 p.m.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar.

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