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Friday, December 30, 2011

The Return of Cain? Sizing Up GOP Primaries

On the eve of the first Republican caucus Tuesday, Herman Cain has announced he will not endorse any of the other candidates for the Republican presidential nomination.

Could Cain re-enter the race? Yes, he suspended his campaign and now has apparent "baggage." (Notably and interestingly, no better proof of any sexual-harassment or infidelity allegations has surfaced.) But all of the other candidates have demerits too, and no one has caught fire.  Moreover, Cain has both pledged to and has remained defiantly active in the public/political eye -- not exactly the behavior of a man caught with his pants down -- and has held off on endorsing anyone as he promised to do shortly after withdrawing last month. 

It's as if the Republican electorate is like a 40-year-old woman, still looking for Mr. Right (or, Prince Charming) but realizing she has to settle. That attitude explains how Republicans expect Mitt Romney to be their nominee, yet the man can't crack the 30 percent barrier in any poll.

In the absence of Herman Cain, no remaining contender has been able to hold on to a strong lead in a race that seems to be calling for an anti-Romney / anti-establishment candidate. This continuing failure -- which should be viewed in the context that we've yet to have one vote cast -- indicates that a Cain re-entry would re-energize voters and perhaps finally bring the GOP race to a three-man duel between the establishment Romney, intrepid Ron Paul and the everyman businessman Cain.

Often, a candidate's flaws validate his or her decision to withdraw. In Herman Cain's case, his withdrawal has left an apparent void in the race and in the issues debate. He shows an everyman sensitivity to economic and business issues not apparent from anyone else. His re-entry would be a welcome development. Finally, his re-entry would still leave him a viable candidate, as ballot access and petition drives can still be mounted in most states.

Eric Dixon is a New York election lawyer, political strategist, information marketer and entrepreneur.

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