Over the past couple of weeks, many of Rick Perry's supporters have jumped ship and climbed aboard the life raft Herman Cain. It's a warm, welcoming place, with an easy-to-grasp tax plan and all the hot, greasy pizza your stomach can handle. Now Cain, who had been cruising along for months with poll numbers in the low- to mid-single digits, is tussling with Rick Perry for the race's number two position. He even tied Mitt Romney for the lead in one recent poll. And yet, as both the Times and The Wall Street Journal report today, Cain's October schedule revolves more around selling his new book than selling his candidacy.
The Times, noting that "19 of the 31 days of October are blank" on Cain's public campaign calender, wonders whether Cain "has any particular plan to seize this moment, beyond using the attention to sell books." He's not, for example, spending a lot of time in key primary states like New Hampshire.
“No candidate can afford to spend two or three weeks not being in New Hampshire this year,” said Steve Duprey, a Republican National Committee member from the state. “He has not made as much progress organizing in New Hampshire as he could have, but there’s time.”
The Wall Street Journal adds that the book tour has only amplified the concerns of former staffers who left the campaign over doubts about Cain's seriousness:
"Organization was a real challenge," [former Cain New Hampshire campaign director Matt] Murphy said. "New Hampshire is an ideal state for a candidate like him without a lot of name recognition or money for advertising. But his strategy has seemed more like a national campaign than a targeted, state-by-state local one."
Mr. Cain's latest book tour has raised those fears anew because it includes stops in states that don't vote early, like his coming visit to a Costco in suburban Virginia. The Cain campaign didn't respond to requests for comment on the criticism.
Now, it could be that Cain's unorthodox schedule is part of some genius campaign strategy. That's Cain's explanation anyway:
When asked why he would launch a book tour while running for the presidential nomination, Mr. Cain said that “the two complement one another” and that the benefits go beyond raising his name recognition among voters — one of his main goals.
More likely, we think, is that Cain never expected to see his campaign become this successful. (Why would he? He's running for the most powerful and influential position in the world based on his experience leading the country's eighth-largest pizza chain). So he figured that at this point in the race, the best he could do is reap whatever monetary benefits would be available to an unviable, third-tier presidential candidate. That Cain is even now sticking to his book tour instead of focusing on early-voting states, despite actually flirting with first place, may indicate that even he knows this moment of his isn't going to last.