Herman Cain decisively won the Florida Republican straw poll today by better than a two to one margin over Texas Governor Rick Perry.
Of course one can make the case that Cain’s straw poll triumph is no more significant than Michele Bachmann’s Iowa straw poll triumph last month. One can also make the argument that neither Bachmann nor Mitt Romney utilized their resources for their straw poll and if they had the outcome might very well be different.
Yet I wonder how many of those who cast their vote for Cain today decided to do so within the past 48 hours. I suspect that many Florida Republicans were swayed by Cain’s strong performance during Thursday night’s debate in Orlando.
Perry put a lot of eggs in this basket and now once again finds himself with egg on his face. There’s no question that Republicans have doubts about Perry. But I also sense that Republicans are not ready to embrace Romney and are still looking for a viable alternative to him. Paul Ryan and Mitch Daniels aren’t running and it isn’t clear if Sarah Palin and Chris Christie are going to run. Newt Gingrich’s best days are behind him, Michele Bachmann is too erratic, Rick Santorum is too abrasive, Jon Huntsman isn’t embracing conservatism, Gary Johnson needs to write his own jokes while Ron Paul is a joke.
That leaves Herman Cain.
Romney has been hitting Perry with the “career politician” mallet. He can’t do that with Cain. It is going to be a lot tougher for Romney to go after Cain. I am not saying he won’t do it but when Cain criticized Romney’s tax plan it was interesting to see Romney refrain from criticizing Cain directly. If Romney were going to criticize Cain it might be for a lack of experience. Well, Cain certainly doesn’t lack experience in the private sector. Yes, he lacks experience as an elected official but in this day and age that’s a virtue.
Now given those circumstances, there are some issues with which Cain isn’t familiar namely foreign policy. For instance, Cain couldn’t answer a question during the debate about the merits of a Palestinian state. Yet Cain strikes me as a quick study. He also possesses a boatload of common sense. Cain has the kind fo common sense which would resist the temptation to stand before the UN General Assembly and proclaim there would be a Palestinian state in a year’s time. I am far more comfortable trusting the gut instincts of Herman Cain than I am with what Barack Obama learned in the hallowed halls of Columbia and Harvard not to mention in the pews of Trinity United Church in Chicago.
Above all else, Cain has a warmth and a sense of humor that could help this country through our troubled times.