Herman Cain was having a swell morning until I showed up. Walking the fenced-in path to the Tampa Bay Times Forum, Cain, along with Mark "Gratuitous Smoking Scene" Block and two other aides, was shaking hands with passersby and enjoying the sunny — albeit sweltering — weather. As he continued along his route, I asked the former presidential candidate, whose electrifying speeches pumped up many a GOP crowd during the primaries, whether he was upset about not getting a speaking slot at the RNC.
"No, not at all," he told me, "and here's why: I don't need to speak at the convention to expand my notoriety, and my name ID. But Mia Love of Utah — I love the fact that she's speaking because people don't know who she is. She's a young, articulate black woman who's running for Congress. I love the fact that former Congressman Artur Davis, a Democrat, is speaking. So no, they didn't have to make room for me."
It struck me then that both of the speakers Cain had mentioned were black. In fact, the only other black speaker at the RNC, out of dozens and dozens of speakers, is Condi Rice. This would be quite a coincidence if it was not intentional on Cain's part. It seemed revealing, at the very least.
"Are you saying," I began, "because they already have two black speakers — "
Cain cut me off. "I didn't name name all of the speakers!" he said, his voice raised and exasperated. "See, you're jumping to conclusions. Do we have time for me to name all of them?"
"You're trying to boil this down to 'How many black speakers are there?' I was giving you a 'for instance,' dude!"
I make a mental note to cross "Get referred to as 'dude' by Herman Cain" off my bucket list.
"I'm not mad at you," Cain said, returning to a normal speaking volume. "I'm just pissed off at you. Now what's the next question." The pack of bystanders who had coalesced around us in the last couple of minutes burst out laughing.
The next question, for what it's worth, was whether Cain would like a cabinet position in the Romney White House, and if so, what it would be. "I have already expressed to Governor Romney that I will not be disappointed if he didn't ask me to be in his cabinet," Cain said, noting that he had a lot of other things going on. "It's nothing against him."