Herman Cain: The Right Wing Sleeper Candidate in 2012?

Politico’s Ben Smith discussed today the unforeseen possibility that right wing activist Herman Cain could be a surprise Republican candidate for president, after he bested all other Republicans in an online straw poll conducted by the conservative blog RedState. Cain, an African American businessman and radio talk show host, even topped Sarah Palin, who came in second, to be the favorite of the right wing blogosphere. Erick Erickson of RedState writes, “I like Herman Cain and, though truth be told I never thought he’d make it past Mike Pence, I am delightfully surprised by the results.”

There is already a Draft Cain movement and he operates his own political action committee, called The Hermanator PAC (seriously). He has received praise from conservative darlings from Bishop Harry Jackson and Bryan Fischer to Joe the Plumber, and Cain himself is talking-up his chances at a presidential bid, telling The Daily Caller: “I will run proudly as a non-establishment candidate. I think the public has an appetite for a non-establishment candidate.” More recently, Cain told Fischer on the American Family Association’s radio program that after Republican gains in November, he is “one step closer” to running for President. When pondering a run, he explained: “No I don’t want to…but I feel like I must run.”

Of course, a 2012 presidential run wouldn’t be Cain’s first foray into politics. Cain is closely involved with Tea Party organizations and co-signed a letter with prominent right wing leaders asking the GOP leadership make “restoring traditional moral values” a key part of their agenda. He also ran for US Senate in 2004 in his home state of Georgia but garnered just 26% of the vote and lost to Senator Johnny Isakson in the GOP primary.

During the 2006 election, Cain was the public face of America’s PAC, a group that used stereotypical language and imagery when calling on Black voters to support Republicans. Cain, who voiced many of the group’s ads, maintained, “The main thing that America’s Pac is up to is it basically is challenging the thesis or the belief on the part of the Republican Party that they cannot attract the black vote.” America’s PAC suggested that Democrats were “decimating our population” by supporting abortion rights:

“Black babies are terminated at triple the rate of white babies,” a female announcer in one of the ads says, as rain, thunder, and a crying infant are heard in the background.

“The Democratic Party supports these abortion laws that are decimating our people, but the individual's right to life is protected in the Republican platform. Democrats say they want our vote. Why don't they want our lives?”

Or as put in another ad:

Michael: And if you make a little mistake with one of your ho’s, you’ll want to dispose of that problem toot sweet, no questions asked, right?

Dennis: Naw, that’s too cold. I don’t snuff my own seed

Michael: Huh. Really? (pause) Well, maybe you do have a reason to vote Republican!

America’s PAC was heavily backed by Republican financiers and led by a conservative activist who said that teaching evolution is “tantamount to teaching atheism.” Another one of their ads suggested that Democrats who opposed the Iraq War were treacherously allied with racist and right wing leader David Duke, who also opposed the war:

Now, I can understand why a Ku Klux Klan cracker like David Duke makes nice with the terrorists. They fight voting rights in Iraq, just like he does back home. But what I want to know is why so many of the Democrat politicians I helped elect are on the same side of the Iraq war as David Duke.

According to a report by the New York Sun, “Many of the ads with conservative social themes are sandwiched between hip-hop songs that convey blunt sexual messages. A spokesman for America’s Pac, John Altevogt, said no stations have refused the ads, but a few asked for minor edits, such as the removal of the word ‘cracker’ from the David Duke spot.”

However, the ads failed to produce significant gains for the GOP among Black voters, as nine in ten African Americans backed Democratic candidates in 2006.

Certainly, the Tea Party, the Religious Right, and the GOP will seek Cain’s help to attract Black voters in case his presidential run fails to get off the ground. Judging by his track record at America’s PAC in 2006, they may want to look elsewhere.