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values voter summit dispatch

Herman Cain Is an Applause Machine

Herman Cain, his campaign still on a roll, stepped up to the podium at the Value Voters Summit this afternoon to rapturous applause. He was the third presidential candidate to speak today, following Rick Santorum, who was fine, and Rick Perry, who was way better than in his recent debate performances. But Cain simply dominated. He had the audience in the palm of his hand. Partly, it's because he's the perfect candidate for this crowd to begin with — as best we can tell, Cain doesn't have a moderate position, past or present, on any issue. Not one! But more than that, Cain knows how to elicit a reaction. In fact, much of his speech revolved around setting up applause lines. He doesn't just deliver these lines — he shouts them, sometimes screams them, and the audience responds with equal intensity.

On someone asking him whether, as a black person, he is angry at America: "I have achieved all my American dreams and then some. What’s there to be angry about!?!" On heeding the advice of the Declaration of the Independence: "We’ve got some altering and some abolishing to do!" On what he would tell Iran after he builds up America's missile defense systems: "Make my day!" Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan may be a joke in some circles, but not here. The audience literally shouted out "9! 9! 9!" in unison with Cain as if he was Ron Popeil reminding them to "set it and forget it!" Considering that Cain was at best unknown and at worst a joke when this race began, it was a sight to see.

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Photo: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images